Looking to buy your first home; how do you start? Your best first step is to contact ChoiceOne Bank and get preapproved for your home loan. You’ll need to know how much house you can afford to begin your house hunting. Once you know what price range you are in, then you’ll need to find a REALTOR®. Especially for first-time buyers, a REALTOR® makes for a better experience because they will know the housing market. In a competitive market, this will be your next best step as your REALTOR® will keep you informed about the homes for sale and negotiate your desires.
Since real estate agents and REALTOR®s are located in almost every city, and this is your first-time home purchase, you want to make sure your candidate can provide the experience you want before asking him or her to represent you.
State requirements vary, but in all states, a real estate agent must take a minimum number of classes and pass a test to earn a license. A REALTOR® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, which means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics. For the purposes of this article, we are using the term REALTOR®.
What is a REALTOR® going to do for you? This is the person who sets up appointments on your behalf and gives you information on the houses that may be of interest to you. Choosing the right REALTOR® can really affect your overall house hunting experience.
Typically, there are two REALTORS®/agents involved when you are purchasing a home. The seller’s REALTORS®/agent represents the seller of the house, and the buyer’s REALTORS®/agent represents you, the buyer.
It’s important to vet a REALTOR® before committing to an agreement. Here’s what you’ll want to consider before shaking hands:
Find Your REALTOR® Through Referrals
The best place to find your REALTOR® is through referrals. Start asking friends and family for their referrals. Typically, people will have extremely positive or negative experiences to share about the person who helped them find their home. Listen to these opinions. The experience you want will become clear.
You can also ask past clients for referrals when you see that a REALTOR® is active in selling and buying homes in an area where the homes are priced in the range you can afford.
- Ask friends and family members about their experiences
- Get references from past clients
You will want to determine your REALTOR®’s commitment to the profession – is this a job or a passion? Some REALTOR®s will use real estate as a holding position while looking for other work. Some will start a real estate career part time while taking care of a young family, and others will dabble in real estate in retirement. All will take care of your needs when they are committed to their profession.
- Conduct an interview asking about their history, time in the profession, etc.
- Ask about the office they represent, who they work for and how many homes they have purchased for other clients
Interview Multiple REALTOR®s
Unless you have a really strong referral from a friend or family member, you’ll want to interview several REALTORS® to make sure they understand your needs and can meet them. Find a REALTOR® who knows the neighborhoods or the areas that you’re looking at – schools, restaurants, entertainment venues, and transportation. You want someone who knows what a fair market price looks like for the area where you want to live. Also, you’ll need a REALTOR® to help you negotiate the price and create a purchase agreement. It helps when a REALTOR® can break down terms and the process so you can do your homework and browse listings by yourself at home.
- Make sure REALTOR® can offer homes in the neighborhoods you can afford
- Make sure your REALTOR® can discuss fair market prices and is willing to negotiate on your behalf
Compare REALTOR® Services and Fees
All REALTORS® have fees for their services. Most will charge a percentage of the sale of your home as their commission. These percentages can vary depending on length of time in the business, reputation, real estate sold, and the real estate office they represent. Make sure to compare the services the REALTOR® will offer and the fees they will charge.
- Compare services covered by the REALTOR®
- Compare fees you will have to pay
Feel Good About Your Choice
In the end, a REALTOR® who makes you feel comfortable about the buying process is important. This is most likely one of the largest investments you have made in your life so far. You will want to make it a positive experience where you can learn the process and feel good about your decisions. Knowing your REALTOR®, and trusting that your best interest is at heart…is invaluable.
- You want to feel comfortable with the process
- You want to trust the advice given and the decisions made
Finally, you will need to process this information and make a decision when choosing a REALTOR® and buying your first home. At ChoiceOne we will get you pre-approved in about 20 minutes and can typically close your sale in 28 days. Because we are in a competitive housing market today, your REALTOR® will want to know you are pre-approved so they can offer the best recommendations to you and negotiate on your behalf when you find your first home. We see opportunities for your home!
20-Minute Pre-Approvals and 28-Day ClosingsAll pre-approvals and mortgage loans are subject to approval of credit. Final loan approval is contingent on property appraisal, clearance of title and confirmation of current loan application information. A 28-day mortgage loan closing timeline is not applicable to government insured loans such as VA, FHA, USDA or MSHDA. Timeline calculations are based on completed application and is not a guarantee. Equal Housing Lender.