You’ve decided to STOP wasting your money renting and invest in your first home or you need to move up or down! How exciting! First things first… Congratulations on seeking guidance and informing yourself.
Too many people go out there and try to do this without the initial homework or research and end up wasting a LOT of money and time. This is especially true of New Home Sales. They see those pretty model homes and start talking to the ‘friendly’ on-site sales person (who represents the builder, by the way) and before you know it, they’ve contracted to buy a house in an undeveloped area where values haven’t even been established! The VA/Military buyer is most susceptible to this and, actually targeted, and should be VERY CAREFUL when considering a new home. Sometimes they’re influenced by ‘horror’ stories from friends and relatives and end up making bad decisions on those experiences. Feeling that because that happened, it’ll happen to them as well OR WORSE they judge others involved in their own transaction as if they had been responsible for that ‘horror story’ heard. But looking for a home should be a fun and exciting time for you when you prepare well. Therefore, again, I extend to you my sincerest CONGRATULATIONS!
Shopping for a home is just a little more complicated than going to the mall. The difference is you MUST do your homework up front in order to not lose out on your hard-earned money. When you go to the mall – hopefully - you balance your checkbook, you check what cash you have at hand OR you have a VERY GOOD idea of what your credit card limits are. Same theories apply to buying a house, except that you MUST first get your financial ‘house’ in order. This will minimize ‘money surprises’ which tend to be the most stressful during the process. I suggest you meet with a loan officer. DON’T visit with many. I’ll tell you why… They will ALL pull a credit report and the more your credit report is pulled the lower your ‘FICO’ scores, which qualifies you for your interest rate. You want to be able to qualify for the BEST interest rate out there. The lower the FICO, the higher the interest rate. Once you’ve visited with ONE, then you can ask GENERAL questions of others without having them get at your credit report. Become an informed buyer. By the way, I also suggest that you NOT apply for those department store credit cards that offer you a 10% discount if you apply for their card. Remember inquiries on your credit report are BAD for your scores and translate to higher interest rates.
Next, you REALLY should seek an experienced and qualified Realtor. (That’s us, by the way…) You’ll find that you’ll save time researching neighborhoods, calling on ads, and you’ll have an ally that knows the business well enough to not allow you to be ‘snowed’. A Realtor’s duties to you, legally, are the following:
He/She MUST represent your best interest ALWAYS! Keep in mind that in the State of Texas agents CAN NOT represent themselves. They either represent the buyer or the seller. Be aware who is representing whom so that you do not disclose information that can be used against you later when you are negotiating.
- He/She MUST disclose anything they know about a particular property or seek disclosure.
- He/She MUST keep all information you’ve provided to them confidential.
- He/She MUST be accountable to you during your transaction.
- He/She SHOULD give you current market comparable information on the area and the property you like so that you don’t OVERPAY.
- He/She SHOULD be effective negotiators and your buffer between all parties.
- He/She SHOULD be able to advise you through inspections, appraisals, and risk management.
- He/She should have a STRONG knowledge of the processes and managing your risk throughout the purchase period.
- Seek an agent that has enough business that they don’t HAVE to sell you a house. Hungry agents are dangerous ones.
After you’ve committed to an agent that you can trust, I suggest, have fun! Be specific on what you’d like and wouldn’t. After seeing a few homes, you’ll start making adjustments to your criteria because of floor plans, functionality, location, and money. Keep your Realtor informed of any changes you wish made in your search or any flexibility thereof. Keep those lines of communications open.
Be realistic. If you’ve seen 20 houses and none of them meet your criteria, or you’ve made offers and lost out on properties, something gives! Maybe you’re looking in the wrong price range, area or have unrealistic expectations in regards to your offers. Listen to your Realtors’ advice. Very few homes are ‘dream homes’. Even those that are custom built, owners have found after living them for a while, they forgot the broom closet or the family room turned out smaller, or SOMETHING.
Your agent will guide you through your transaction; helping you make good decisions through your inspection period, mortgage processing and closing. Surrounding yourself with a good knowledgeable ‘team’ will ensure a successful and stress-free purchase.
Angie Borras the Founder/Owner of Houses In San Antonio (a real estate brokerage) and a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI), Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource (SFR) and Certified Distance Education Instructor (CDEI). She has been ranked #35 in the Nation and #1 Hispanic Female by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) in San Antonio. She has been in the real estate field since 1996 and considers herself an ‘educator’ to her clients. Most of which, entrust her to counsel them on realty investments after their initial purchase. She also represents over 60 bank institutions that assign foreclosure listings for rehabilitation and sale to maximize the return on their investments. Most recently, Angie has been certified by the Texas Real Estate Commission to provide educational courses to her peers. She’s also the Founder of the American Spirit Alliance, a non-profit organization committed to keep the American Spirit Alive thru community events and development of courses that teach the history of our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.