Searching For Just the Right Home
When searching for a home, one of the first steps is to contact a bank or mortgage company to obtain a pre-approval letter. This letter can be obtained quickly – usually within twenty-four hours. The bank is not committing to fund your mortgage. It is simply giving you an idea of how much you can expect for a mortgage based on the financial information you provide. It is good to shop around. The mortgage industry is extremely competitive. It is not unusual to have a lending institution offer incentives such as no closing costs to first time homebuyers. Realtors generally like to work with local lenders. If problems arise, it is easier to work with bankers and lenders we know. It can make the process a bit less complicated.
The second step is to give the agent as much information as you can about the type of home and property for which you are looking. There are literally thousands of homes available at any one time, and to search through all of them would be impossible. Keep in mind that the broader the search, the more homes will match. If the search is extremely specific, it is possible that no homes will match. Buyers have to make a list of “musts have’s” and “it would be nice if’s.” Providing a list of items a house must have will help narrow the search.
Some of the information that would be helpful to the realtor is the following:
- In what cities or towns would you like to live?
- What is your price range?
- How much land would provide you with the space you feel you need?
- How large a living area inside the house would you like?
- What type or style of home appeals to your most?
- How many rooms would you like?
- How many bedrooms would be ideal?
- How many bathrooms would you like your home to have?
- Do you have any special requirements?
- Handicapped Access
- Formal Dining Room
- Hot Tub or Jacuzzi
- Professional landscaping
Your agent will take the information and construct a search on the Multiple Listing Service that lists all available property. MLS is an enormous database for which realtors pay fees to access.
One of the most effective technological features of MLS is that it is possible to match your search with your e-mail address. As matching properties become available, they will be sent to you in your e-mail. You can then notify your agent that there is a property you would like to see. One caveat here -- visiting properties can be an extremely time consuming affair, particularly if you have many properties in different locations that match what you want most. It is always a good idea to drive by the property before having your agent set up an appointment. Seeing a property in person is different from seeing a picture of it. You may decide on a drive-by that it is not what you expected. This simple act can save valuable time and effort.
One situation that can cause a relationship between buyers and agents to sour is that buyers will want to see many properties, which is fine, but they don’t seem willing to act on a property when an ideal one is found. To insure that this process works well for both sides, buyers must be serious about buying.
Another situation that can negatively impact the buying process is having a property to sell. If you are looking to buy, how close are you to selling the property you currently have? Some sellers do not want to show their property to buyers who have not sold their own property or are not well on their way through the selling process.
A third situation is the difficulty of setting up appointments. Your agent will be happy to set up appointments for you. Getting an appointment for a single-family home is generally easy. Setting up an appointment for a multifamily house is much more taxing. In order to view the property, current residents usually want to be elsewhere. It is more difficult to coordinate this when dealing with more than one family.
When an appointment is made, please show up on time. If for some reason, you are unable to meet at the appointed time, please call the agent and let him or her know. They must inform the homeowner. If you arrive at a home that you find you don’t like, it is usually not a bad idea to go through the house to see what it has to offer. Some buyers have been pleasantly surprised to find the inside of the home to be just what they wanted. Sometimes minor changes to the outside could make the home ideal.
When listing properties, some realtors ask the seller to fill out a form about the condition of the property. If the home was built before 1978, they will also ask the seller to fill out a lead paint form. Sellers are required to fill out these forms honestly. Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) is no longer acceptable. Homeowners and realtors are required to give full disclosure about the property. In filling out these forms, it is totally acceptable for the homeowner to say, “I don’t know” if indeed he or she does not know. It is impossible to know about a problem that existed years before the seller owned the property and has never reappeared or one that is lurking around the corner. As a buyer, it is in your best interest when visiting a property to look through these forms. This knowledge will help you decide which homes are to be considered serious contenders.
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