For more reasons, see blog post below!
Buying or selling a home can be a lengthy and complicated process. Real estate agents complete classes and training to learn how to navigate this process best, hone their negotiation skills and learn the tricks of the trade. Years of experience teach them industry best practices, and how to avoid common pitfalls associated with the transaction process.
Most people don’t get this kind of training, so there are inevitably misconceptions about the industry that real estate agents find themselves explaining to client after client. We asked some of our agents what the most common questions they get are, and what they wished more people knew coming into the market. It’s our hope that their answers can help potential clients get a better idea of what to expect when starting the home buying or selling process, and what they can prepare for!
Here’s what our expert Realtor®s at HomeCity Real Estate wish all clients knew from the start:
- It's best to find one agent and stick with them throughout the process. "Find an experienced Realtor® that you connect with, and work exclusively with them,” advises Seth Thompson, the Broker at HomeCity. “Many buyers think agents have different lists of homes, which is not true for 99% of what is available. You will also get full attention from an agent if they know you aren't asking five other agents to work with you too."
- Zillow is not for consumers. Websites like Zillow were not intended for consumers to use as their primary home search tool. “They have no way to report correct numbers such as sales and what your property is worth,” says Rhonda Riley. “You’re much better off getting the help of an agent who has access to the MLS, and in turn accurate comparable properties.” Zestimates are often inaccurate estimates of what you should sell your home for, and buyers will often find old data on the website!
- The lender you choose to work with is as important as your offer. “When it comes to lending, the cheapest lender is not the best lender,” warns Sterling Mack. “Service and performance matter as well as experience. Finding a lender that closes on time and is there to answer questions during ‘non-business hours’ is critical to keeping the deal together.” Your agent can help you find the best lender for your needs.
- Buyers should put their best foot forward when making an offer. "In this hot market, it is best to come in with your highest and best offer first as you may not have the opportunity to do so later and you could lose that house you love,” says Kristi Richards. “Everyone wants a good deal, but a good deal today is getting your offer accepted over others." In markets like ours, multiple offers are common; you don’t want to miss out because you were trying to low-ball an offer.
- Continuing to rent could be costing you money! “The time to buy is now,” Carmen Nichols advises. “If you wait another year and keep leasing, you could be faced with increased values and higher interest rates, and on top of that you are missing out on the tax benefits of homeownership. In other words, continuing to rent is costing you a lot of money!” Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone, but many people don’t realize that they could actually save money purchasing a home sooner than later.
- However, also make sure you can afford the true cost of ownership. “When purchasing a home it's not just about what your mortgage payment will be,” says Donna Ciccarelli. “Consider what the true cost of overall ownership can be. This includes not only PITI but also utilities and maintenance costs over time. For example, in two years will the AC need to be replaced, or will the house need to be painted? Does insulation need to be added because cellulose packs over time and R-value may be lowered? All these potential costs should be added to an overall cost of homeownership budget.”
- Life is not an episode of HGTV. "I think HGTV has some great shows with some great design ideas for your future home,” adds Jonathan Bane. “However, what you may not know - especially in today's market - is that homes don't sit on the market for weeks at a time like on the show, and they also won't accept 10% below listing price like on these shows. Many of the homes shown are ones that have been on the market for quite some time, this why they have so much time to pick between three of them." When you see a home you like, make an offer quickly! This also circles back to putting your best offer on the table the first time.
- Understand that there are costs and processes involved before closing. “I wish more buyers knew about the amount of money that is expected upfront, before the closing,” says Christina Mugno. “For example, many people don’t realize that purchasing a home involves earnest money, option money, inspection and appraisal payment all usually out of pocket before you get to the closing table.” These together can cost hundreds of dollars, before you even put down your down payment! Saving up before you start your search can help you prepare for these expenses.
- You should understand credit, what affects your credit, and what score you need to buy a house. “Buyers need to be very aware of what their credit scores are and the impact they have on their ability to buy a home,” instructs Tracy Kilpatrick. “Buyers need to actually speak to a lender and not rely on the credit reporting services that they see on TV to get ACTUAL credit scores. Knowing the difference between a bad and a good credit score, as well as what influences your credit is so important. Trust your lender and your Realtor® to guide you along the way.”
- Don’t change your financial situation before closing – seriously. “Your debt to income ratio is extremely important when being approved for a home loan,” advises Lauren Tindal. “If this changes after you’ve been qualified then it’s likely your approved loan amount will change as well. Be careful after you’ve been approved not to make big purchases (think appliances, furniture, vehicles) or open new lines of credit. Making these mistakes can cost you the home of your dreams.”
- Listen to your Realtor®s advice – they negotiate for a living. "When you hire me as an agent, I'm there to offer the full range of my expertise,” says Matt Witte. “Yes, I'll find you the home, but I'm also going to help you negotiate the best deal, and make the process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible." That means when they say to price your home a certain way, you should probably heed their advice. If they tell you you’re getting a good deal on a home you want to buy, you should probably take their word for it.
- We want to leave you better off than when we found you. “We chose real estate as a means to support our families but just as important to us, is our use of real estate as a platform to help people,” says agent Richard Fowler of his and business partner Donna Ciccarelli’s philosophy. “Together, we do our best to make a positive difference in people’s life every day, and for us, it’s personal as well as professional. This could mean our commitment to continuous education so that our clients get the most out of our services, being giving of our expertise and time and handling every real estate transaction as if it were our family’s personal transactions. We want our clients to be “better off” when we complete their transaction than they were before they hired us, whether that be enjoying that special property, getting top dollar from the sale of a home or a great ROI on an investment.”
Have questions that weren’t mentioned here? Feel free to reach out to your friendly neighborhood real estate agent; they’ll be happy to provide answers. Coming into the home buying or selling process with a basic knowledge of what’s to come can give you a leg up in this competitive market!