It's not uncommon for a first-time home buyer to say to me, "Gosh, just last week I called you about buying a home and now I'm in escrow! How did this happen so fast?"
The answer is it didn't. First-time home buyers start the search long before most even realize it.
Here's what you can expect from your home shopping experience.
Figuring Out the Benefits
You should buy a home. That's what you've been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that home ownership was the best decision for you. That's a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.
Defining Search Parameters
Almost 90% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You've probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach your real estate agent's office, you are halfway to home ownership.
How Long Should It Take to Find What You Want?
Most buyers by the time they have started to physically look inside properties can identify a home within a few weeks and sometimes even a few days. A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren't motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of my buyers find a home within a few days of the house hunting process.
Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well so as to avoid wasting time on properties that do not fit your criteria.
How Many Homes Will You See?
Studies show that the your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, layoff the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that I show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don't expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it's physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them. It is better to go out 3 separate times then try to do the marathon home hunt.
The "Red Shoes" Experience
Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.
How to Rate Inventory
- Most properties will have a color flyer at the home that you can take to help you remember them. You can also bring a digital camera to take photos if needed*(with home owner permission)
- Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements.
- Pay attention to the home's surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
- Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant?
- Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
- Always be putting the best home at the top of the list of each outing so you can discard the ones that don't work for your lifestyle.
View Top Choices a Second Time
After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.
At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers' motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn't come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.
Buyer Info Request
Making the Selection
I'll let you in on a little secret. A good agent generally knows which home a buyer is going to choose. It's an intuition. But they make it a practice not to steer buyers, and insist that buyers choose the home without interference.
Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer's search parameters.
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