Summer is the season when people move.
Buying a home is a huge undertaking. There is a lot to consider when making a move. The process is incredibly stressful. Including the right realtor for you can make the process easier and alleviate some of the stress.
Is a Realtor Necessary?
Many homes are being sold by their owners on websites such as Zillow and Trulia. Home sales websites are fantastic for shopping for a home. You can look literally anywhere for a new place to live without leaving the couch.
It’s a good idea to make inquiries about a home or property through a realtor, though. The involvement of a realtor keeps communication between the parties on a professional level. A home is about as personal as something can be, and a realtor can ask the tough questions about a home while keeping emotions to a minimum.
A home is a huge expense and inquiries about the condition of a home being considered for purchase must be made. A realtor can help you with do your due diligence in asking questions and looking for potential problems that can affect the purchase of a home.
A realtor local to the area where you are shopping for a home is a valuable resource. She can answer questions about the community, neighborhoods, the local job market, schools, recreation, and the overall lifestyle in the area where you are looking.
Yes, I think a realtor is necessary.
What to Look for in a Realtor When Buying a Home
- Look for a realtor that has lived in the area where you are looking for a home for at least 10 years and has been in real estate for at least 5 years. I think it takes that long to truly understand how a community and it’s neighborhoods function.
- If you’re really wanting to use a realtor brand new to the business, ask how he plans to deal with the “bumps in the road” that will be encountered. Does he have access to a seasoned mentor to help him navigate unexpected problems? We signed all the closing papers on one house we purchased and the selling realtor couldn’t find the house key. Issues happen and you need a realtor that has a plan and the ability to handle them professionally.
- Choose a realtor that wants to help you find a home, not sell you a house. I’ve met with slick, high-roller realtors who saw my husband and me as nothing more than a quick way to make a buck and who didn’t care one whit about what our family needed. Walk away from the hard-core sales pitch. You want a realtor who cares.
- Find a realtor who believes in you. When my husband and I were in our 20s and looking for our first home, we were asked by every realtor we interviewed who is going to help us financially with providing the down payment for a home. The answer was: No one. We worked hard and saved hard and provided our own down payment on our first home. I guess those realtors didn’t believe us because only one called back and was willing to work with us. That realtor handled 3 home transactions for us. He became a friend as well.
- Use a realtor for whom real estate is a full-time job. Someone who dabbles in real estate is serving two masters and that never goes well. A full-time realtor has skin in the game and will have no trouble returning phone calls, answering emails, and making appointments.
- Ask a realtor you’re considering if she has a list of people that help with other aspects of buying and selling a home. She should have a contact list of lenders, home inspectors, appraisers, professional home stagers, etc. A good realtor will be able to recommend good people and companies to help with every part of the transaction.
- Buying a home, especially your first home, is incredibly stressful. Go through the process with a realtor you like as a person. Don’t add to the stress by going through it all with a realtor you don’t like much. Some personalities don’t mix well. That’s normal. You don’t have to be friends with your realtor, but I think it’s important to go through the process with a realtor with whom your comfortable and your relationship is pleasant. You don’t want to dread talking to him on the phone, after all, because you’re going to be communicating a lot. All that communication should be as pleasant as possible.
One Other Thing…
Have an attorney who represents you present at the closing. It may seem like going overboard, but I promise the cost of having an attorney present can save you from an expensive, stressful nightmare later. The reason you will want legal representation is this:
- You are signing a LOT of papers with fine print and you will be very stressed and overwhelmed.
- You won’t understand everything those documents mean.
- The real estate agent is not an attorney. It is not her job to represent you in a legal capacity. She couldn’t if she wanted to.
- People can be shady. While you may have an ethical realtor guiding you through the process, the selling realtor or the sellers themselves may not be people of integrity. You have to protect yourself.
- A real estate transaction involves a TREMENDOUS amount of money. Nothing should be left to chance or handled in blind faith.
- Having an attorney present, either in person or on speakerphone, does not in any way mean you are “playing hardball” or threatening anyone. It simply means that you are protecting your own interests. You have every right to do that. If the seller views the presence of an attorney as intimidation or a threat, that is a clear sign that you SHOULD have an attorney representing you at the closing. A seller with no hidden agenda will not be threatened by you protecting your own interests with legal representation. In fact, a seller should welcome the input of an attorney. It’s an opportunity to make sure the transaction is done cleanly and correctly.
As adults, my husband and I have lived in 3 different states and 6 different communities. I can’t imagine going through all those transitions without the expertise and knowledge of the good realtors who have helped us through all of them.
EVERY buying and selling transaction that we went through had a glitch of some kind. It’s the nature of the beast. Just expect it. A good realtor and attorney can get you through those glitches as smoothly as possible and bring about an outcome that is good for everyone.
Next week, I’ll share ideas for selling a home. In late July, I’ll give you tips on finding an apartment that is right for you (just in time for all those college kids to be doing The Apartment Shuffle). 🙂
All the Best,