The home search can be the most fun part of buying a new home — but it can also be pretty challenging. Make it easier on yourself by keeping these tips in mind.
Find a Great Real Estate Agent
Your agent is a valuable partner in the home shopping process. You not only want to find someone who is experienced, trustworthy, and familiar with your desired neighborhood(s) but also with whom you “click.” You’ll be working with them a lot!
A really good agent will also have appraisers, inspectors, and contractors that they work with regularly and trust implicitly. This is super important to ensure any home you choose to bid on is worth your investment.
Avoid “Decision Fatigue”
We’re not going to sugar-coat this: It can take months to find a new home. Months. And seeing a dozen houses every weekend for months can push you to the point of thinking, “I’ll take anything. Let’s just get this over with!”. Don’t let yourself get to this point. There are some steps you can take to avoid decision fatigue and keep searching for the right home, not the right now home.
Even before you start house hunting, you should make a list of features that you must have and things you would like to have but aren’t critical. Your list could look something like this:
|Good Schools Nearby||Bonus Room|
|Master Bathroom||Near Freeway Exit|
|Yard Big Enough for Dogs||Ground Floor Bedroom|
|Garage||Gas Stove and Oven|
Once you’ve narrowed down the most essential features, it’s time to make a checklist. Some of the information will come from your agent and the home’s MLS listing; some you’ll have to observe yourself.
How to Win a Bidding War
If you’re in a seller’s market, you may encounter a lack of good inventory, high sales prices, and even offers from other buyers that could result in a bidding war. Your agent should be able to navigate you through these choppy waters, but it’s good for you to have a general idea of what you might encounter. Here’s what to expect in a typical bidding war situation:
- The seller’s real estate agent lets all buyers’ agents know when bids will be accepted and reviewed.
- Work with your agent to come up with a bid. Be sure to listen to your agent’s advice! If competition is super fierce, your agent may suggest some concessions:
- Have your pre-qualification letter in hand.
- Offer higher than the asking price, without ignoring your budget.
- Waive some contingencies.
- Offer a fast closing — submit your paperwork to your lender ASAP and respond to all communications from your agent and lender as fast as you can!
- Write a letter to the seller.
- Your bid may be turned down. If that’s the case, you’ll need to decide whether you want to offer more money or waive other concessions to sweeten the deal.
- The seller may come back to you with a counteroffer. Review it carefully with your agent to see if you can accept the terms.
- You may go back and forth a few times, but once your offer is accepted, you’re ready to start your inspections!
Yes, You Need a Home Inspection
No, it’s not mandated by law, but any agent or lender worth their salt will tell you to get the standard inspections. A trained and licensed inspector will look for damages, deterioration, and other issues with the home that an untrained eye may miss.
Things an inspector will look for:
- Pest damage (such as termites)
- Dry rot and fungus
- Foundation damage
- Water damage
- Electric and plumbing systems working properly and up to code.
- Many other faults and features
Depending on your location, you may need separate inspections for the roof, sewer line, and pests. You’ll get a lot of photos, information on your breakers and water shut-off, and other bits of info from the inspectors’ reports. When you’re buying a home, surprises are the last thing you want, so be sure you get those inspections!
“Shopping for a home can be very fun: New floorplans, new features, it’s very exciting! On the other hand, it can be stressful if you find yourself in a bidding war or rising cost housing market. Having patience and understanding the housing markets’ current state will go a long way during the home shopping process. Lean on your mortgage lender for support during these stressful times and ask questions about the market, it’s what we are here to do!”
-Julia May, Mortgage Loan Officer, Bartlesville, OK
Contact a lender today if you have any questions!