I love working with buyers because it such a rewarding experience. They’ve found a place where the most important events in their life may take place. Lots of times clients will ask me in the first meeting about what they can expect in the process. So here’s a rough outline of what it’s like to have me as your agent as you search for a home. I separate the buying process into a few different phases: The Pre-requisites, the Search, the Deal, and the Relationship.
In this phase, a buyer is starting to dip a toe in the water. You’re seeing if you’re financially and emotionally ready to buy. As an agent I can help by recommending loan officers who can help through the basic application which would result in a pre-approval letter. At that point, you have some certainty that you could get a loan for a certain, specified amount. My main advice to clients when it comes to loans is to shop. The time you spend shopping should be proportional to the value of the product. If you buy a pack of gum, it’s no big deal to just pick one. But for the largest transaction in your life, you should shop and compare.
In my experience MOST buyers have an idea of what they want, but it’s not a well defined set of specifications. So as we start the search we enter into an iterative process in which we define a set of broad criteria (geographic, price, bedrooms, etc) and narrow it down as you visit homes. Of course every client is different and they each have their priorities, so if a client want to be extremely pro-active and involved I can follow their lead. Other clients prefer to wait for me to find and suggest homes.
Either way, for every home we see, we should learn what you liked and didn’t like about it. This is an extremely personal and emotional, interaction in which I feel I really get to know a client. Often I’m needed to mediate a discussion between a couple to help them come to an agreement when each partner has different wants/needs. I find that quickly, I’m able to predict how a client will react to a home. It takes some patience, but it’s a matter of time until we find a home that YOU want.
At this point we get down to business. We crunch numbers and determine what the house is worth to you taking into account your needs, wants, the home, and the market. We decide on a negotiation strategy together and make an offer. My experience negotiating multi-million dollar contracts with the government comes in handy here. Clients have different tolerances for risk and again, I am here to help you bring that into your negotiation. If you can’t stand the thought of paying one cent more than it’s worth, then we’ll offer low, but we must be prepared to lose the home if a better offer comes in and we’d go back to the Search phase. It’s a game of chicken and I encourage you to minimize your emotional attachment to the home at this stage. We present a professional, calculated image to the sellers and work for the best deal we can get.
Next, assuming we get the contract, the negotiation would continue. At this point, we bring in inspectors with great construction experience, and a title search company to better inform you about what it is you’re buying. Does the seller have the right to sell this house? What kind of problems might occur and how likely are they? Throughout this stage we continue to re-negotiate as needed as new information comes to light. Up until the moment you have the keys in your hand and the documents are signed, we can continue to adjust the deal on your behalf. This is where I get to really earn my keep and protect your interests.
Finally, after you’ve got your keys and you’ve moved in, we enter the “relationship” phase of our … relationship. Officially you’re no longer my client, but hopefully a respect and admiration was gained and maybe even a friendship can form. I am always available as a resource to help find contractors or other service providers. I greatly appreciate visiting months later once you’ve settled and seeing you in your home.