We’ve all heard the phrase “Buyer, Beware,” but I don’t like it because it’s just so dire. Although I’ve spent the last few weeks writing about the stresses and strains of real estate and how it might affect my clients, I really don’t want you to be frightened of what can actually be an incredibly exciting and invigorating time in your life. I like “Buyer, Be Aware” much better, because with a little awareness about what’s to come, you can prepare. Prepare for those heart-tugging, hair-pulling moments of craziness that eventually lead you to the home of your dreams. But, wait! We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Buying a home is not for sissies. There’s just no way around that fact. Lucky for you, I’ve helped a few hundred (thousand?) clients buys their homes. It’s not my first rodeo, which means it doesn’t have to be yours, either… even if it actually is!
The first thing most home-buyers start to stress about is securing financing for their new home, figuring out how much home they can afford and creating a realistic home-buying budget. Fortunately, your trusty Realtor® should have a list of mortgage experts who are ready and willing to help walk you through the process. It is crucial that you are honest and upfront with your mortgage broker and Realtor® regarding your finances.
The only thing more stressful than applying for a mortgage and waiting to hear a yay or nay is getting a yay that is way more than you can actually afford. Then, you’ve turned a temporary strain into a permanent one and it can have a long-lasting and very negative impact on your future. Let the experts do what they do. Provide good information, be patient and get a pre-approval, If possible. Then, when you actually get out there and start looking at properties, you’ll know exactly what you can afford and sellers might be enticed by your pre-approval status. Being able to make an offer without financing contingencies can be the difference between getting the home of your dreams and watching it fall into someone else’s hands.
Many clients think that once the money talk is out of the way that it’s smooth sailing. After all, it’s a buyer’s market, they’ll tell me. And while that might have been true even three years ago, today there are more BUYERS than there are homes. In Middle Tennessee, which never saw the disastrous real estate bubble burst of the past decade, homes are flying off the market. It is absolutely not uncommon for homes to sell within one or two days of listing. In high-profile neighborhoods, bidding wars are common as sellers know that they have what you all want! So, how do you avoid the stress and strain of getting into a bidding war or losing the home you have your heart set on? First, understand that homes aren’t like soul mates. There really is more than one and with patience and perseverance, you will absolutely find the home that was meant to be yours.
Allow your Realtor to counsel you about the home you decide to bid on. If said home is in a highly desirable zip code and has been renovated to the Nth degree, chances are you’re going to have to make a near to asking price offer. He or she may be able to use other angles to make you the most desirable bid, so prepare to let go of the reigns just a bit and let your Realtor® do the job you hired them to do. While it won’t completely alleviate your stress, it should help you maintain a bit of calm as you wait to hear that your offer was accepted. If, on the other hand, your offer is rejected or the seller responds with a counter-offer, be prepared. Know what your next step will be. Do you have some wiggle room in your budget for negotiation or are you prepared to walk away? Knowing exactly where you stand and then sharing those expectations with your Realtor® will relieve so much of the stress of buying a new home.
No, buying a new home is not for sissies, but if you’re armed with information and a top notch Realtor®, you can turn the process from anxious to exciting, stressful to enjoyable and (most importantly!) wind up in exactly the right house for you and your family!