There are already enough scary, nerve-wracking things about investing in a new home. It can be time-consuming, complicated, and confusing. And there’s a lot of money at stake—so it’s a major commitment for you.
What you DON’T want to make is a monstrous mistake. What you DO want is the wise advice of a knowledgeable, experienced, licensed Realtor©. Why? There are lots of good reasons. Here are some of the most important ones:
• These days, the average home costs $100,000 or more. And buying a home is the largest transaction the average person makes in a lifetime. With that as a perspective, consider this: if you had a $100,000 tax problem, would you call in a CPA to help—or work it out on your own? If you had a $100,000 legal problem, would you get an attorney—or work it out on your own? Don’t you think the financial importance of a home is worth bringing in a professional who’s on your side?
• When it comes to the real estate industry, you’ll discover that there are dozens of terms and acronyms you may not understand. Some of them will be legal, others financial, and some are descriptive of a piece of property or home. A Realtor will be able to explain all of them to you. This is essential, because you’re going to be signing a lot of legal documents and you need to know what you’re doing.
• Emotions and moods can run high (and low) when you’re looking for or buying a home. Your Realtor can be an objective, logical, cool and calm sounding board. He or she will be your advocate and have your best interests at heart at all time. A good one will know the difference between what you want and what you need—
and will do his or her best to help to find a home that’s right for you.
• Before you ever cross the threshold of a home that’s for sale, you should have your financial ducks in a row. Your Realtor can be a really big help here; he or she can walk you though the mortgage pre-qualification and pre-approval processes. He or she might even be able to guide you towards willing mortgage lenders. Once that’s taken care of, you’ll know how much home you can afford, and you’ll be able to narrow your search for a home. You won’t waste time and energy looking at houses that aren’t right for you.
• Many Realtors have developed an expertise in specific neighborhoods or communities—so they know the territory, the state of the market, the property values, the negatives and positives—and what these could ultimately mean to you.
• A Realtor has access to information resources about properties that you don’t.
• A Realtor will be there for you from start to finish. He or she can help you with negotiations, pricing, financing, terms, dates of possession, repairs, furnishings, equipment, titles, the closing—you name it.
Now, how should you go about finding the perfect Realtor for you?
Do your research. Ask for recommendations from family, friends, neighbors and colleagues—especially those who have had recent experience with a Realtor. Find out what a Realtor’s credentials are. Has he or she been consistently successful? Ask for a print-out of his or her recent track record—what he or she has listed and sold within the last 60 to 90 days, what neighborhoods those homes were in, and what their final sale prices were. Does he or she have good professional credentials, several years of experience, and a reputation for integrity and ethical business behavior? Does he or she have a solid, reputable organization behind them? Talk to several Realtors before you decide on one. Ask questions. Do they pay attention and listen well? Do they seem to be organized? Can they explain things to your satisfaction? Do their suggestions and answers make sense to you? Do they return phone calls in a reasonable amount of time and show up for meetings punctually? Do you feel they’ll have the courage to be honest with you—even if they have to tell you bad news? You’ll need to pay close attention to your instincts. You’ll be spending a serious amount of time with the Realtor you select. You’ll have to be able to trust him or her. Your housing investment—and the way you live for years to come—will be heavily impacted by how he or she does the job. If you don’t have rapport with a Realtor from the get-go, it’s probably going to be a train wreck. Don’t sign anything if you’re not sure about him or her! Shake hands, say goodbye, and move on to the next interview.
Don’t get spooked.
Be brave. Be wise. Figure out what you want in a home. Then find yourself a Realtor to help you figure out how to get it. Chances are, you’ll be safe and settled in your home sweet home sooner than you think! And if you ever decide to sell it, well—now you know exactly who to call, right?
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