Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chronicles of a First Time Homebuyer: Know What You Want

Today's Tip:
(and make sure your realtor does too)

My husband and I had a general sense of what we wanted in our home:  3 bedrooms, a yard and nice neighborhood.  We had a financial range we could work within.  How hard could it be to find a bunch of houses that fit that criteria?

Well, not hard at all.

We found TONS of houses that fit the criteria.  And we went to every. single. one.  Over the course of 2 years, we saw a lot of houses.  It became frustrating, because houses would have the 3 bedrooms, a nice yard, but...something didn't fit the bill.

Enter in our realtor, David.  David did something the first night we met with him that totally changed our outlook on looking for homes.  He had Bill and I sit down and each write out the Top 5 Things We Wanted In A House.  Dream big, he had said.  So Bill and I scribbled away on our legal pads of paper, and when we were done, David went through each thing with us.  This exercise helped us realize which aspects we were NOT on the same page about.  And since David challenged us to think beyond how many bedrooms we wanted, we were able to realize some of our deeper desires for a house. 

David then proceeded to ask a lot of questions:  How long are you planning on living there?  Do you want a move-in ready house? You want to live in this town, but what is your radius that you'd be willing to look within?  Or are you willing (or want) to do some work?  He went over our financials so he completely understood what we had to work with.  David helped paint us a picture of the kind of house we wanted.  And after our first meeting, I felt confident that David knew exactly what we were looking for as well. 

This made the home search process more simple: if a house didn't fit inside the perimeters, we didn't look at it.  And since David had a good sense of what we wanted, he knew what kind of property listings to throw our way.

We still saw a lot of houses, but the houses we looked at all fit the bill (a future post will be about how to handle multiple offer declines. Ahem).  And it felt good knowing that we weren't compromising on anything:  Bill and I were finally on the same page, and David knew what we wanted.  Win - Win -Win.

Home Search Pointers

Spend time nailing down exactly what you want in a house
I highly encourage the exercise David had us go through: writing down your top 5 Non-Negotiable Desires for a Home.  Dream big, and let yourself think through what you really can't do without.  Is it a garage?  An updated kitchen?  A certain number of bedrooms? A particular town?  Renovations?

Be on the same page with your buying partner
Whether it is a spouse, a family member or business partner, if you are co-buying a property, make sure you understand what each other wants.  Being on the same page keeps you from seeing unnecessary properties, which saves you time in the long run.  And in the end, you can be confident that you get exactly what you want.

Make sure your Realtor knows exactly what you want
A lot of time can be wasted when there is a lack of communication between you and your realtor.  If your realtor only knows you want a 2 bedroom condo, she will spend a lot of time getting you 2 bedroom condo listings.  But maybe you deep down really want a bi-level, or a turn-key property.  Perhaps there is a particular neighborhood you'd prefer to buy in.  Maybe you want sliders to a patio, or can't imagine not having an end-unit.  If your realtor doesn't know your Non-Negotiables, you will become frustrated with one another and waste a lot of time looking at properties that don't fit your true criteria.

In the end, keep this in mind: Know what you want and open the lines of communication!

We'd love to hear from you:

How did you keep the lines of communication open between you and your realtor?
What are/were YOUR non-negotiables?
What other advice would you give first-time homebuyers?

Leave a comment below!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post Steph! Have to make sure your little sister reads this too - she just emailed me last night. :-)

    Love my Recchiuti girls!!!