Buying a Home Part 1: Choosing a Realtor
By Lorri Gifford
The thought of “nesting” is very appealing to some people. Some of us are ready to commit more permanently to a geographic area, may want to start and raise a family or may just simply want something we can call our own. Whatever the motivating factors, it is first important to feel “at home” within our own human dwelling, our body. Once we accomplish this, the rest will follow effortlessly and easily.
Right now I am mid-transition in my move to the Raleigh area. I am sitting at the kitchen table that overlooks the backyard and golf course at my brother’s house. It is a beautiful house and definitely a home. As I take a deep breath I realize that the transition here has been a little easier because I already feel at home in my own body.
Feeling at home in my own body centers and grounds me and creates the clarity I need as I contemplate my next place of residence. For me the search for a house will have to wait until I have lived and held a job in the area for a few years. I choose to feel at home first before I purchase one. And I also look forward to the day when I can do that.
I did briefly dip my toe into the “potential home owner pool” in Asheville last summer and it was very educational. I realized however that before I committed to an area, I wanted to be closer than four hours to my family. So dear reader, I encourage you to feel at home in your body first and then at home in the area you wish to live before you purchase a house. This will make it a much easier road.
There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home. ~Kenny Guinn
Last month we explored the importance of your credit score as well as your DTI (debt to income ratio). Now we will explore the next steps to take in finding your dream home. This month we will continue our journey with the help of Sandy McCall, Broker/Realtor/Owner at Southern Life Realty in Asheville.
There are a number of things to do to find the right home. First it is important to find a good realtor. There are a number of reasons for this:
- They have a lot of insight and info that you may not know
- They are constantly taking continuing education courses
- They know the latest laws that “experienced friends or family members” may not
A big part of a realtor’s job is to educate the homebuyer.When looking for the right one, ask your friends and family for a good realtor. In other words, someone that returns calls, texts and emails in a timely fashion and is knowledgeable about the area and real estate. These two factors are essential in building trust. After all, you have to be able to trust the realtor as well as trust what they are telling you.
Buying a home with a realtor is a partnership. If you don’t have one that you trust, it isn’t a good partnership. ~Sandy McCall
Next it is essential to build a good team of professionals. The other professionals that you will need in this process are: a lender or loan broker, inspectors and an attorney. (We will talk about this in more detail in the upcoming issues.) Just know that your realtor is the hub of this team of professionals. She/he communicates and forms the bridge between all of the people you will be dealing with throughout your home buying process. Often your realtor has a list of people that they have had experience working with in the past and can give you a copy of that list if you request it.
Your credit score and DTI both play key roles in the loan approval process. As you are shopping for a lender, you will be asked to give them your financial information so that they can determine the loan amount that you are eligible for. Talk to one or more lenders and “shop” for good service and rates. And, PLEASE get pre-approved before making an offer for a house. Offers fall through and hearts are broken everyday because people skip this process and assume that they will be fine. Do everyone on your team a favor: DON’T ASSUME.
You need to get a preapproval before having the realtor set up your search and before driving by, or viewing properties.That way your realtor can set up the search for property you can actually afford and not a number you are guessing about. Everyone is spinning their wheels if they spend time searching for, or looking at properties that the buyer cannot afford. And if you can afford, according to your lender, $150,000 and you choose to only spend $125,000, all well and good.
Be aware that a good realtor will advise you to shop around. Do not be talked into going with a lender/broker who is affiliated with the Real Estate Agency that your realtor works for.
Once you have been preapproved, ask your realtor to set up a property search and give them the price range and parameters that you wish to set. The broader the search, the more listings you will see.
When you are searching on your own and find properties not in the search done by your realtor, ask your realtor to get more information to you.
Take time to drive by the listings sent to you by your realtor that piques your interest. You are the only one that knows if the location works for you. The house can be changed, the setting and location cannot. If you drive by a listing and like it, call your realtor to schedule a viewing.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that a good realtor educates you throughout the process? Well, they also encourage you to ask any and all questions during the time that you spend with them. Keep asking questions throughout the process as they come up.
If you don’t understand keep asking questions until you do. – Sandy McCall
If you view a property and you are interested in it, communicate this to your realtor. Once you do this have your realtor send you any and all information available on the house.
- Look at the Residential Property Disclosure for the property.
- If the house was built prior to 1978 it will need a lead paint addendum.
- Your realtor can ask if there were prior offers on the house.
- Your realtor can ask if there are prior surveys, appraisals or home inspections on the property.
However, the seller is not obligated to share the details about the previous offers, appraisals and home inspections, though often times they will. And they DO have to include items from previous inspections in their updated Residential Property Disclosure unless it has been properly repaired. There are a few exceptions to this that your realtor will know about.
Once you have viewed all of that and it meets with your approval, it’s time to make an offer. Next month we will continue with information on making an offer and the steps that take place after that.
To recap, I have listed the eight steps we have talked about so far in the process of buying a house:
- Ask family and friends for recommendations and find a good realtor.
- Get Pre-approved by a lender
- Have your realtor set-up a “property search” for you based on your parameters. (What you are willing to spend, location, type of home, number of rooms, etc.)
- If you find listings on your own, have your realtor get as much information on the listing as possible.
- Once you have viewed the listings, drive by the property to see if you like the setting and location.
- If you like the setting and location have your realtor set up an appointment to view the property.
- If you are interested in the property after viewing the property communicate this to your realtor and have your realtor send you all of the information available on the house.
- If you are still interested it’s time to make an offer…
Remember, once you are feeling at home in your body you will come from a centered and grounded space. From there, choose the area you want to live in and find a realtor that you trust. When you have established that, you are truly ready to enjoy the process of shopping for your dream home.
A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. ~Benjamin Franklin
In closing I would like to give you some additional information that Sandy McCall shared with me regarding first time homebuyers and realtors.
THINGS FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS OFTEN DON’T KNOW
- Realtors know what to look for and if they are tuned into the buyer, they are a great resource.
- Realtors can gather information about property that you cannot; many times websites like Trulia and Zillow do not have accurate information.
- Any realtor can show you property, only some realtors actually do the leg work for you, make sure you are legally protected and make the process as easy as possible—trust is crucial
- Sellers pay the realtor commissions for both buyer and seller. There could be an exception but it is not likely—always ask.
Lorri Gifford has been reading Tarot Cards since 1986. While living in California, she worked at The Chopra Center for Well-being as their Spa Director and a Lead Educator. Lorri enjoys writing, giving readings, coaching and helping others develop and deepen their intuition. She currently resides in the Raleigh area and is available for phone or Skype consultations. Call her @ 619-602-8981 or check out her web site @ www.readingswithlorri.com.