In Step 3 of how to buy a home we discussed getting your finances in order. In today’s post, we are going to talk about the fun part – Searching for homes
This is where you fun begins. Your agent will set you up with an online account. Try to stick to the account your agent recommends. Some buyers jump around to third party sites such as Zillow and Trulia. These sites tend to host inaccurate information that can be misleading to buyers. Zillow advertises “pre-foreclosures” – these properties are generally not for sale. These listings mean the home owner has missed some payments on the mortgage and somehow Zillow can track this through public records. They change the staus from off-market to pre-foreclosure. Your agent will be able to give you access to the MLS feed either directly through the MLS they use or their own website. When a home goes under contract or comes on the market you will get notified immediately. Third party sites can take as long as 3 days to refresh data. A home can be sold in that amount of time.
Once online and getting daily emails from your agent you will begin to notice a trend in the homes you are receiving. Pay attention to the trend. If most houses in your price point are 1500 sq ft and you see a home listed in the same price point with 3000 sq ft- you know there has got to be a catch. Is it distressed, a short sale, foreclosure, failed septic? Check in with your agent to find out why this properties pricing is so far off from all the others.
Start visiting open houses. Don’t forget your agents card, or at least be sure to sign in with your agents information. Agents get paid for representation based on procuring cause. Procuring cause is the how a buyer came to find a property. If you want your agent to have the ability to represent your best interests if you decide to write an offer, you better give their name to the agent hosting the open house or procuring cause can go to the agent hosting the open house and that agent does not have your best interest in mind as they represent the seller.
The best way to truly explore a home is at the private showing with your agent. In most cases you will get exclusive access to the home with just your agent. This allows you and your agent to explore the home and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each home you view. If you want to take a second look, you can go back through the house. Most showings are scheduled for a half an hour. If you have high interest in the home and take a little longer the sellers don’t usually mind. But if you have no interest, move through the showing and leave on time; Try not to stay behind and discuss other homes inside the house you do not like.
Before all showings make sure you do a drive by on all properties you want to view. Do you like the neighborhood? How is the property’s curb appeal? What about the neighbors or view from the home? You can get a good feeling if you would like to live there by simply driving by. This is important because if you don’t like the neighborhood or what the home looks like, you can save yourself, the seller, and your agent a lot of time by not scheduling the showing. If you do not have time to drive by, pay courtesy to the agent and seller by at least viewing the homes interior while there for the appointment. The agent took time out to bring you there; the seller probably cleaned up and made the house show ready for your arrival. There is nothing more distressing than getting to a home a buyer requested to see and having the buyer say they do not even want to enter. Use this home as a comparison to other homes you will look at. It never hurts to look, especially if you are already there.
In a showing of a house you are considering for an offer be sure to notice the condition of things such as the roof, systems, and other visible items. You should not attempt to renegotiate on items that were clearly visible at you showing after home inspection. You agent should be able to point out items that would decrease the value or bring up cause for concern in an appraisal.
Step 5 – You have decided on a match
Once you think you have found a match, your agent will then go over the pros and cons of that house. They should be pointing out the items you said you wanted and comparing this to properties of similar value. You agent will then run a market analysis on the home to determine its value. In a rising market it is important to make sure that the home will appraise at the offer price. In multiple offers many buyers are offering over appraisal value making it difficult to finance. If your agent believes this home is good match they will tell you one way or the other.
In the next step we will discuss Making an Offer
Here is an example of what your home search could look like