Look for a local expert. Does your agent really know the ins and outs of the area? Reliable, experienced guidance can help you avoid the house on the street that gets too busy for you at certain times of day.
Ask about their years of experience. Strong relationships within the real estate community and well developed negation skills are critical for a successful transaction.
Ask to see a list of transactions. Has your agent successfully closed sales in your target areas?
Get references. Take a look at their Yelp profile and ask for testimonials or references. A quality agent will have plenty of happy clients!
LENDING AND PRE-APPROVAL
Work with a lender with whom your agent has a good relationship. Not only are things more likely to stay on track and close on time once you find your dream home, you will be working with someone who is experienced and trustworthy.
Analyze your budget. After completing pre-qualification with your lender, take an honest look at your budget and decide what you can comfortably afford. Remember to include space in your financial planning for taxes, house maintenance, vacations, et cetera.
Get pre-approval. This goes a step further than pre-qualification and tells the seller you are qualified and serious about buying.
FINDING YOUR DREAM HOME
Make a list of “need-to-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” You will likely have to compromise on some things, so making some decisions ahead of time help you and your agent stay on the same page.
Stay positive. In a competitive market, it can be frustrating to be outbid.
Stay on track with your financial plan. Don’t start making wild offers on homes that you won’t be able to comfortably afford.
BUYING YOUR DREAM HOME
Discuss your offer with your agent. An experienced agent will often be able to predict the sale price of a home.
Get a home inspection. A home inspection is a good way to protect your investment. Depending on the competition in the market, you may want to include or exclude it from your offer’s contingencies, but it is a wise step to take before moving in. Work with a licensed professional recommended by your agent and get a detailed description, not just a checklist. Be sure to attend the inspection as well, so you have the opportunity to learn about all of the home’s systems and ask about estimates on any potential repairs.
Personalize your offer. Especially in a competitive market where all-cash offers are commonplace, including a photo and a letter to the seller can swing things in your favor, even if your offer isn’t necessarily the highest number.
Prepare for closing day. Congratulations on your new home! Remember to bring the essential paperwork requested by your agent and lender. You don’t want to derail a closing at the last minute!
GETTING SETTLED IN YOUR DREAM HOME
Ask your agent for vendor recommendations. Working with an experienced agent means you automatically get connected with their top vendors. Your agent should have a great moving company, gardener, painter, et cetera to recommend to help you transition easily into your new space.