Finding a home in this market is no doubt stressful. Finding a “good deal” on a house in this market is almost impossible. Granted, I came into this situation with a totally different perspective. I wasn’t “looking” to move, and I didn’t need to move. We were totally happy in our previous home, so if we didn’t find exactly what we were looking for, it wasn’t the end of the world. So, I’ll preface my experience from the other side, with admitting it isn’t totally the same when you aren’t under pressure to find something now.
However, I did learn some things about being the buyer that I feel will help me as an agent going forward. The first thing, is trust the process. Sometimes, I get the feeling that my buyers think I am slowing them down and keeping them from getting what they truly want by making them follow along with my systems, process, and checklist. However, being the buyer made me realize the importance of these things. One, we truly knew what we wanted and needed in a house. We didn’t waste time on houses that we “might” be interested in. We looked at 2 houses over the process of 2 months. We made offers on both. The first one didn’t work out because of inspections. We bought the second one. I know there is the “what if” and “what else” theory. But, in a tight sellers market with exceptionally low inventory, it is even more crucial to be fully aware of what you want and need, and zero in with a very narrow focus. You’re more likely to lose something you want waiting for something else, because it goes under contract before you put an offer in, than you are to miss out on something amazing that comes to market. I’ve been saying it for a few years now, but it is even more true today. “If you have to sleep on it, you won’t be sleeping in it.” The “hot market” inventory homes, aren’t staying on the market more than a couple days. Yes, there are some areas of town where inventory is setting, and you have a few days to think on it. But, as a general rule, being focused and decisive will save you time, money, and heart ache.
The second part of the system, is having your financial house in order. Trust me, accounting for us self-employed folks does not necessarily lend itself to great accounting for purchasing a new home. Fortunately for us, we don’t really have any desire to buy the most house we could possibly afford on paper. However, it was still vital to have the pre-approval and initial hurdles covered with our lender. We knew going in exactly what we could and couldn’t do, and negotiated from that stand point. And, we didn’t waste time looking at houses that were debatable as to whether or not we could afford them. The bonus of this process, the only additional paperwork we were asked for in the underwriting process was a “darker” copy of a portion of the sales contract addendum. We were able to close our purchase in 15 business days. I witness a much harder process day in and day out with my clients and others in the process. Just this week, one of my agents had a buyer go under contract on new construction, only to find out they didn’t qualify for the loan. The agent wasted time and money, the buyer wasted their time, and got their heart set on something they can’t have. If you have all of your checklist items up front, go through the pre-approval process, not just pre-qualification, up front, the lending process truly can be stress free. Buyers are often stressed trying to gather documents on a moment’s notice at work to get back to the lender in time to keep the process on track. The process is over, and I am actually still friends with my lender and will continue to recommend him to my clients. Not many people can say the same.
Be diligent in the inspection process. By the time inspections roll around, you’ve seen the house a few times and you are completely in love. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you and cause you to make a bad financial and investment decision. If the inspection is bad- walk away. Trust your gut, if it seems like your biting off more than you can chew, move away from the table. We lost over $1000 on inspections for the first house we were going to purchase. $1000 is a whole lot of money and I don’t like seeing money go for nothing. But, trust me, walking away with $1000 in was a much wiser and safer financial decision that getting into a house that was going to cost us thousands more than we anticipated spending. And, guess what, another house came along. A month or so later, we moved forward with a purchase on another home. We purchased this home as-is, meaning the seller would make no repairs. And, the inspection revealed some decently serious issues, but they were issues we were willing to deal with and easy enough to fix. We looked at our budget, and decided based on the information we had that we were comfortable moving forward.
Let your realtor do their job. Maybe once or twice, I had to tell my husband to cool his jets and let me do my thing. There are very very few sales that I haven’t got to the closing table. My job these days isn’t finding people houses for sale, they can do that online. The vast majority of my job is managing the process and getting everyone to the closing table. Trust the process and the systems in place. Follow the checklist, and let your realtor do the heavy lifting for you. Ask questions, respond quickly, and home buying can still be a fun process. Truly, the hardest part in all of this for us was just waiting on closing day to get here so we could get to work on the new house. Yes, I’ll say it one more time. From the buyer side of the table, I’ve learned that my checklists and systems are even more important than I originally thought they were. I’ll carry on being anal retentive…..