What follows are some notes from a recent meeting with new buyer clients. I have expanded on my notes quite a bit as I think that many first-time homebuyers have similar questions and conversations.
– Meet with a lender to ensure that your credit is in good shape, go through the pre-approval process and understand the process.
– Start here – Posts with Enduring Interest – Just for Buyers. This post from last year has links to stories about choosing the right Buyer’s Agent, Top 5 Questions Buyers ask, Why I ask all of my clients to sign Buyer-Broker agreements and more.
Dual Agency – Who benefits? The Realtor.
– Work on deciding what you want/need to be “close to” – this is one of the most important questions you can ask yourselves. Where do you go every day? You’re buying a lifestyle. Every week? Where do you think you will be going every day/week – in two years? Four years? Will you have kids? Will your job have changed? Will the kids be playing soccer? Doing ballet? What do you value being close to? Grocery store? Coffee shop? Park? Gym? Soccer field?* Schools? What is “close” to you? For my clients from Northern Virginia, California, New York, “close” means under 45 or 60 minutes. For me, having lived in Charlottesville for 20 years, “close” means less than fifteen minutes and preferably five minutes.
– Ask Questions – lots and lots of questions. As I said on WINA radio recently, I expect everything that I say to be Google and vetted through family, friends, Facebook, LinkedIn … now is the time to ask questions.
– There are no stupid questions … even though I call them “stupid questions.” Let me explain – my profession and expertise is real estate. If I were educating myself on whatever your profession is, I would have my own “stupid questions.” I guess I could say “basic” or “rudimentary” but the term “stupid questions” – with the caveat that I’m not being condescending – usually conveys the intended concept.
Doing things methodically helps to reduce the stress of the home-buying process. Start slow. Ask lots of questions – better to ask them now than halfway through the contract process.
* As an aside, my soccer team is desperately seeking a goalie – we have been for a couple of years. If you’re interested in playing, please let me know.