So you’ve secured a loan approval from a lender and now you are ready to go out and look at homes. Have fun! This is the good part about home buying. During this process you’ll see tons of interesting things and really get to know the real estate market in the area you want to buy. With the help of your Realtor, this should be the most fun and exciting time of the entire process second only to closing day!
To make things easier and less stressful on yourself, have a detailed conversation with your agent about exactly what you are looking for. The more specific you can be about location, schools, neighborhood traits, home details, and price, the easier your search will be on everyone. However, understand that this clear picture you have in your head of what you want and don’t want will often change during the course of home searching. Sometimes you’ll find out that what you want doesn’t exist in your price range or you’ll find out that because of low inventory, you may not get every feature of what you’d like to have. What I’m saying here is that it’s ok to change your mind. In fact, it happens to almost everyone. As long as you communicate with your Realtor, things can keep going smoothly. Try to be creative in your thinking. If you need a 4 bedroom house, ask yourself if you’d be open to a 3 bedroom with a bonus room or a basement. If you need hardwood flooring and a home doesn’t have it but everything else is perfect, ask yourself if it’s that big of a deal to install hardwood floors yourself before you move in. Asking yourself these kinds of questions and being open-minded can open you up to a perfect home that you would have never thought was perfect. I can’t tell you how many times my clients bought a home that included a feature they said they absolutely did not want. Sometimes you’ll think that way until you get into a house and fall in love. Know that your agent expects this and may even suggest homes to you that include some of your disliked features, because they know some things in homes are easy to change, if everything else is awesome. Walk into the house and have fun picturing where your TV and sofa would go, how you’d set up the kitchen, and which bedrooms the kids would choose.
If you’re an avid reader of our blogs you know that I’ve mentioned moving quickly on a home you like. I want to reiterate this point because in Atlanta and metro Counties, we are currently in a sellers’ market. This means that there is low inventory and a larger buyer pool. This causes homes to sell for the list price way more often than they did back in 2010. Most listing agents will expect a home to go under contract in a few days as long as it is priced appropriately. This is another reason why it’s so important to be clear with your Realtor about what you want and why being diligent in your home search is important. If a home is listed on the market on Friday and you wait until the following Wednesday to see it, it may already be under contract by the time you see it. This is another reason why Zillow, and websites like it, can be so frustrating. You’ll see a home that is active and available and then you’ll find out it’s been under contract for a week already. Get with your agent about setting you up with an MLS search that will email you the second a new home hits the market that meets your criteria. If you see pictures of a listing online and think it may be “the one,” don’t hesitate. Go see it and if you do like it, make the offer. Remember that you can always back out of a deal during the due diligence but if you wait 5 days to “think about it” before making your offer, it’ll likely be snatched up by someone else. Inevitably people tend to miss out on a couple of homes before realizing just how hot the market is right now so take my advice and don’t dawdle.
The negotiating can be a bit of a stressful process but it doesn’t have to be. Understand that your agent should be looking at comparable sales for each home you are interested in to make sure that whatever you end up offering is not more than it’s worth. For that reason alone, try not to focus too much on the list price. A seller can list a home for whatever they want but the market dictates what it will sell for and therefore the listing price is mostly irrelevant. Try not to listen to your friend when they tell you that you should never pay list price for a home. Maybe they bought a home that the seller had overpriced or it was in an area of town that wasn’t as hot as where you are looking. Just taking their advice at face value may cause you to miss out on a good home at a fair price just because the seller had more awareness of what their home was really worth. Also be aware that in this market, multiple offers may happen. When they do happen, not even your agent will know what the other offers are for. The best advice I can give anyone going into a multiple offer situation is this: Offer the max amount of money that you would feel that if you paid, you didn’t get ripped off. This way if someone out-bids you, you can rest easy knowing they overpaid, but if you get it, you don’t feel like you overpaid. Also try to remember that you should always fight to get the best price you can for a home but adding a few thousand dollars to a mortgage will affect your payment minimally. In other words, don’t lose your dream home to someone else just to save yourself half of a family meal at Applebees per month.
Hope you learned something and happy hunting! Don’t forget to share your name and email with us to the right of this page to be in constant communication with our team of real estate professionals.