Know The “Product” And The Process
Team With A Real Estate Pro
Find a Realtor possessing these attributes:
1. Asks incisive questions that quickly clarify what you are looking for in a neighborhood, school district house, house and property.
2. Has personal connections with a variety of Lenders, inspectors and tradespeople who have a proven track record.
3. Excellent communicator, listens well, keeps you current and ask open-ended questions rather than making statements.
4. Diligent in searching for properties that meet your requirements.
5. Analytical in being able to digest all the disclosures & reports sorting determining condition of property and market value.
6. Responsive to your needs, readily available and uses their time efficiently and effectively.
7. Creative thinker good at overcoming obstacles and developing winning offer strategies.
8. Incisive, nimble negotiator who quickly grasps what is most important to the Seller and deals in those areas.
9. Understands and oversees the Escrow Process ensuring mistakes and delays are avoided and problems quickly resolved.
10. Doesn’t rest until his or her Home Buyers are happily settled in their new home.
Team With A Proven Loan Officer
The second most important person on your team is the Lender. The right Lender for you depends on several variables: the amount of the loan you are looking for and your financial strength, available cash, creditworthiness in terms of the FICO score, income level and income to debt ratio. Lenders have their sweet spots; some are good with large jumbo loans, others specialize in 3%, 5% and 10% down payment programs, and others are comfortable working across the board.
Here are some things to look for in a Loan Officer:
1. Good communicator who you can easily understand.
2. Good at educating you so you can make informed decisions.
3. Responsible partner who keeps you up to date and gets back to you in a timely fashion.
4. Enterprising thinker who is good at overcoming obstacles.
5. Has a broad spectrum of programs and quickly sorts out ones best for you.
6. Relationship-oriented with clients, realtors and other lenders.
7. Puts you first and works hard to meet and exceed your expectations.
The right lender will help you understand how much you can afford and what program best meets your unique circumstances.
See “Choosing A Loan Officer” under the “Residential Financing”. Also, there are a myriad of articles about selecting loan officers. Click here. And another.
Reach Consensus On Property Requirements
Before the search begins, you have to detail your requirements.
What price range can you live with?
Town or rural? Hills or flat? Views of mountains or valleys?
Location: School ratings? Commute time? Crime stats? Ambiance?
Ambiance: Street? Neighbor properties? Type cars in driveways?
Feng Shui: House facing direction?
Macro property considerations: Livable space? Lot size? Style? Construction? Ceiling heights? Floor plan? Natural light? Roof? Age? History? Permits?
Kitchen and bathroom: Dating? Size? Floor plans?
Rooms: Livable space? Desired rooms? Size of rooms?
Amenities: Landscaping? Pool and spa? Cabana?
Sitting down and considering each of these areas is an enlightening experience. I like to sit down with couples and have them write down their individual responses to each of the points above in silence and then compare the results. This is a real fun time for me!
Search and Research
If a property is remotely in your sweet spot meeting most if not all your requirements, you have to SEE the property before making any judgment. Pictures don’t give you a feel for space or the total experience. It is much like looking at a face in part and judging each feature separately, not rating anything high, but when you see all the parts together, you love it!
So how do you identify properties that are within your sweet spot?
I take my clients’ most significant requirements including location, price range, livable space, number of bedrooms and baths and insert them into the MLS system. Every morning the system will report all the properties that meet the specifications with respect to new listings, pending, contingent, sold, cancellations and TFT (transaction fell through) as well as price increases and reductions. In addition, to the daily MLS search I am communicating with my fellow realtors in the areas that my clients are focus on to see what is coming soon or will be sold off market.
Buyers today employ a myriad of applications like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and HomeSnap where they can set their search criteria or just browse the listings in their target areas.
No matter how a property is identified, the next step is to go see the property with your agent. Having your realtor present is beneficial for these reasons:
Saves time. If you like the property, the agent must walk the property before preparing an offer. The realtor must know the visible condition of the home, lot, neighbor properties and street.
Body language is more important than words. A good realtor will watch his clients’ reactions as they tour the property. They will see delight, disappointment and confusion and delve into the cause of that reaction. In being watchful, the realtor will be able to perfect the search criteria so he or she can more quickly find the right property without wasting the clients time, energy and goodwill.
An experienced realtor can answer questions like: Is that easy to repair? Was the addition built with permits? Are these dual pane windows? Can we get disclosures? What are the HOA’s responsibilities? Do you have trade connections like painters, flooring people etc.