5 Things That Successful Home Buyers Do

first-time home buyer tips

Are you a first-time home buyer? Worrying about getting your offer accepted, and whether or not you will be happy in your new home only adds to the stress. Follow these simple steps and you can put that worry (well, most of it) to rest.

Get Pre-approved

You’ve already been told this, but it’s true. In today’s hyper-competitive market no seller will take you seriously unless they know you can close. Get pre-approved with a well-known, trustworthy lender, and a loan officer that is experienced, competent and ethical. Strong endorsements go a long way.

Find Your Home on RealEstate.com

Know What You Want

There is no worse feeling than making the most expensive purchase of your life only to discover that you don’t like the location, or the house isn’t right. Determine what is important to you before you go shopping for a home.

If schools are important to you, find the school district you love. If you have to commute, make the commute to work from the neighborhood you are considering for a few days. Can you live with it? If the characteristics of the neighborhood are important, drive through the neighborhood several times during the day and a few more at night.

How much home will you need? Some families can live happily in small spaces; others can’t. How many rooms do you need? How much space? Do you entertain? You may want a formal dining room or living room.

There is no worse feeling than making the most expensive purchase of your life only to discover that you don’t like the location, or the house isn’t right. Determine what is important to you before you go shopping for a home.

Are you handy? If not, you want a turn-key house. If you are very handy, a fixer-upper might give you the chance to make a little sweat equity. You should know what works for you, however.

Try this exercise: Grab a pile of sticky notes, and start writing down what’s important to you, one item per note. They might read “good school district,” “under $300,000” or “four bedrooms.” Don’t limit yourself – write down anything that comes to mind.

When you have exhausted all your ideas, stick them up on a wall, with the most important ones at the top to prioritize your desires and needs. Shuffle the notes as you think it through. You will hopefully see by now that you won’t get everything. If you can get your top five or seven priorities, everything else should be negotiable.

Choose Your Real Estate Agent Wisely

Your real estate agent is responsible for advising you on the most important aspects of your purchase – location, location and location. The person should be an expert in the neighborhood that you have chosen. There is no substitute for local knowledge.

Get an endorsement from people you trust; someone that actually used the same real estate agent (a trusted family member or close friend) is the most valuable.

The person should be an expert in the neighborhood that you have chosen. There is no substitute for local knowledge.

You will be spending an awful lot of time with your agent, driving around, looking at properties, writing up offers. Make sure that your agent is someone you would be happy to spend lots of time with, because you will.

Hopefully, by now you see that once you find your dream home, it might be out of your pre-determined price range, or not have all of the features that you once considered “must-haves.” This is a good time to review your budget or your needs and wants list and adjust.

Make a Good Offer

When you’re ready to make offers, don’t waste your time, your agent’s time and the seller’s time. Make serious offers. In today’s market, low-ball offers will rarely be successful. You don’t have to over-pay, but you do have to be serious.

Have your agent talk to the listing agent to learn about the seller. Many agents assume that a fast close or the highest price is most important. But sellers differ, and that may not be the most important thing to them. Their agents knows them, so have your agent ask.

Don’t let multiple offers scare you off! It’s not always about the highest price. Tailor your offer based on what the seller wants most.

Reassure the Seller and His or Her Agent

Have your loan agent call the listing agent to confirm that you are qualified. The seller is rightfully concerned about whether an offer is real or not – whether you are actually qualified to buy his or her home. If you are pre-approved, your loan agent should be able to set any concerns to rest.

Once in escrow, don’t drag your feet – stick to the calendar

Finally, once you are in escrow, don’t mess around. Stick to the calendar that you agreed to. Deviation from it will make the seller (and his or her agent) nervous, and put the transaction in jeopardy. Take your inspection, loan and appraisal contingencies seriously and get those things done on time, and close when you said you would.

Now go find your dream home!