Lots of people say that buying a house is the biggest financial decision most people will ever make, and that’s true – but it’s just part of the story. A home purchase is a major financial commitment, but it’s also a major emotional investment; after all, this is the place where you and your family will be spending a great deal of time, and you want to be certain the home you buy (and the price you pay for it) represent the wisest decision possible based on your specific needs and “wants.”
The problem is, most of us don’t buy homes very often, and knowing “how to buy a house” isn’t a skill that just comes naturally. That’s why it’s important to have someone on your side who understands all the steps to buying a house and can help you navigate the purchase process with ease. And that’s why using a buyer’s agent – someone who’s committed to your needs, and not the seller’s – is one of the smartest steps you can take to make sure you get the home of your dreams. Here’s what you can expect during that first meeting with your own buyer’s agent:
Step 1: Discuss your needs and finances.
The initial meeting with the buyer’s specialist is your opportunity to let the agent know about everything you’re looking for in a home, so don’t be shy. It can help to have a list prepared ahead of time to help ensure you don’t forget to mention any important features you’re looking for. Break your list down into “needs” or “must-haves” and “wants” or “would-like-to-haves,” maybe listing items in order of preference from most important to least. Don’t restrict yourself to the home and property itself; be sure to mention things like location, schools and other factors that could have a bearing on your home selection.
During the interview, the agent is going to be asking questions, too. Some of the questions will help narrow down the type, size and location of the home you’re looking for as well as the features you’re interested in. You’ll also be asked about your budget and whether you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage. Remember, a buyer’s specialist is all about your needs, and the more information you can provide, the more successful your home search can be. Doing a little homework ahead of time, like carefully considering what you want in your new home and getting preapproved, can really help.
Step 2 – Review the agency disclosure.
The disclosure provides all the information about how the real estate brokerage will represent you as a buyer. Go over the disclosure carefully. If you see something you don’t completely understand, ask questions. We want your experience with us to be as simple and straightforward as possible so you can feel confident every step of the way.
Step 3 – Go over the home-showing process.
If you haven’t been preapproved for a mortgage, finding a lender and getting that all-important preapproval will be the first order of business. Preapproval not only shows sellers you’re qualified to buy their home (which makes them more likely to seal the deal), but it also helps establish your actual price range – that is, how much home you can truly afford. Plus, preapproval helps ensure you’ll only be shown homes that are within your price range to avoid wasting your time. Once you’re preapproved, the showings can begin.
Next, the agent will explain the software used for home searches. MLS software is the “official” software used by Realtors®, and it’s far more accurate and comprehensive than consumer search sites like Zillow and Realtor.com.
Step 4 – Review the home search process.
Your buyer’s agent is legally obligated to put your needs first. They’re not in the business of pressuring any buyer to close a deal. Instead, your agent will provide you with tips on what to look for when viewing homes and educate you on how to find out about “nitty-gritty” details like homeowner’s associations, the home inspection process and zoning issues that should be addressed if a home is going to be renovated after purchase. You’ll also learn about the offer process and what to expect during your search, including how the agent will help identify potential homes for you to view.
Step 5 – Review the Buyer Broker Agreement.
The Buyer Broker Agreement is a contract between the broker and the home buyer, and it lets the buyer know the agent is serious about working with them to find just the right home for their needs. The agreement gives the buyer’s agent permission to identify potential homes for the buyer and to negotiate terms and conditions that are acceptable to the buyer for the purchase of a home. Be sure to review the document thoroughly and ask questions if you’re not clear on any item. Our agents are here to provide help, guidance and education at every step of the home-buying process.
Step 6 – Enjoy the hunt!
Looking at homes can be exhausting when you do it yourself, but with a buyer’s agent on your side, the process is much more efficient – and lots more fun. Once you start viewing homes, you might decide to “tweak” your list of “needs” and “wants,” so be sure to let your agent know. Your buyer’s agent is experienced in the home-buying process, and they can provide a wealth of information and ideas to help you enjoy a successful buying experience and start enjoying the home of your dreams.