I’ve got a good Realtor® lined up, what’s next?
Understanding the Real Estate Process from A – Z – A Buyer’s Guide to Real Estate – Part 2
This is the second post of a series in an FAQ format that I hope will help would be buyers better understand the real estate process that they are about to go through. This is a follow-on series to the posts for real estate sellers.
FAQ - I’ve got a good Realtor® lined up, what’s next?
It’s great that you’ve found a good Realtor to work with. Let’s flesh out the team that you need to have with you on this grand adventure.
If you don’t already have a mortgage person the Realtor should be able to provide you with recommendations to 2-3 good mortgage people, usually people that he/she has worked with in the past. That is really a preliminary step that you need to get out of the way before you take step one in MSHDA program in Michigan that may be available or suggest other approaches. They will probably also see if you qualify for any of the VA or USDA programs that still offer zero down programs for first time (or lower income) buyers. If nothing else works, they might suggest a gift from parents and help you understand the special documentation that will be required to make that work. Your mortgage person will take the lead on that program. You will probably find that your Realtor and your mortgage person work hand-in-hand through the whole process.
So, you can see that your Realtor is doing quite a bit of work for you already and you haven’t even started to look at houses yet. Sometimes the result of all of this preliminary work is that you will find out that you are not really ready to buy a house yet. Your mortgage professional will get back to you, once they’ve pulled your credit report and let you know if there are issues in it that mean that you really don’t qualify for a mortgage. A good mortgage professional will also share with you a strategy that you can implement to get your credit in order. In the meantime, your Realtor will stay in touch and update you on the market from time to time, until you are in a position to get into the process.
Assuming that your mortgage person has pre-qualified you up to some limit and your Realtor has been able to determine a starting set of criteria for the search; you are almost ready to start. Almost ready! What now?
It is inevitable that you will see many houses in the listings that the Realtor will be sending you to consider and certainly you will be visiting more than one. Things can start to run together in yourink to the HUD suggested home buyers' checklist. There are lots of other such checklists out there, so just Google Home Buyers Checklist to see others. Each time that you visit a home you should receive at a minimum the MLs Data Sheet for the house, so you can staple that together with your checklist to help you recall each house later.
Either before your first outing to look at houses, or right after that first outing, you should probably make yourself a list of the “must haves” and the “nice to have” features that you are really looking for in a new home. That list may evolve over time and you should share it with your Realtor, so that you and they are on the same page. Just like on some of the HGTV real estate shows, you Realtor may have to show you a house that has everything on your must have list, but which is way outside of your price ranger, in order to also show you that maybe you can’t afford everything on that list. As Dr. Phil might say. It’s time to get real!
Your Realtor will probably be sending you listings several times a week and may set up an automated search for you that could send you lists every day. It might be helpful to sit down with your Realtor and go over how to read and interpret those MLS listings. There’s usually a lot of good information in them, if you know how to read them. You should also give your Realtor feedback on any changes to the search criteria that he/she may need to make to better reflect what you are looking for in a new home. I also usually suggest that Buyers do a quick drive by of listings that they think they want to goSchool Digger, Public School Review and Great Schools.
You can probably do a quick “desk audit” of the listing that your Realtor send you and eliminate a few just from reading the listing. Remember tell your Realtor why these didn’t fit for you, so that they can make adjustments to the search criteria. If you have the time, I always advise doing drive-byes on the ones that you may wish to visit. You will probably eliminate a few more that way, just because of how they look for the curb or how the neighborhood looks. It really throws the schedule off when you are out with your Realtor to visit multiple homes and you eliminate one or two without even going in. It’s also not very nice for the people who had to get out of the house and then you didn’t even visit.
In the next post we’ll cover the different types of homes that are out on the market, so that you understand the differences before you encounter them. The post after that will go over the etiquette for those visits and give you some tips on what you should be looking for as you walk through each house.