Your finances are in order. You’ve consulted with a lender and know how much home you can afford. You’re ready to embark on your home search. Finding a new home is exciting and fun, but it requires you to do some planning (and a little homework) to provide us some basic information in order to assist you efficiently in finding the right property. There are numerous resources available to find the information you need to be an informed and savvy home buyer. We can find appropriate homes for you to see, but having an idea of what you want and where you want it can provide a successful and satisfying home buying experience.
Do Your Research
Research the areas where you might like to live so that we can maximize your home search. The Richmond Metro is a very large, diverse area that has many different types of housing, including townhomes, condos, duplexes and single-family homes. You can live in the city, the country or somewhere in between. So, of course, narrowing down the locations will speed the search and bring us to a successful conclusion of finding your best home. Determine what’s important to you, whether it’s being close to work, accessibility to the interstate (including ease in getting to the airport), nearness to family and friends, or wanting a lot or a little bit of land. Remember the three most important words in real estate: location, location, location.
Your Realtor cannot legally point you towards certain schools or neighborhoods, unless you specifically request them. We are not allowed to comment on “safe” neighborhoods or “good” schools. What we consider to be safe or good may not match your thinking or expectations, and even if our opinions are the same, “steering” buyers towards certain areas is illegal. We can only point you towards resources that will provide you with information about schools, crime statistics, and other data that you need to make an informed decision. We’re fortunate in the 21st century to have the internet, overflowing with websites, especially city, county and state sites that provide all of the information you need to be a smart, successful home buyer.
What’s In A Home
Determine the style of home you want and the features you need. Single family home, townhome, condo? Two story, split ranch, tri-level? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Gas or electric? Newer home or older neighborhood? Do you need a basement, garage, walk-up attic? Are there any special features you need/want like wheelchair accessibility, a large yard, abundant closet/storage space? It’s especially important to be clear about what you want in your home so that your search doesn’t crash and burn in frustration and aggravation.
Most buyers have features that are important to their satisfaction with their home and also things that would bug them to the point where their dream home turns into their constant nightmare. What are the things you want in your home that you know are “must haves” and what are the things that will drive you crazy? Regardless of how much you like a house, that thing that bugs you the most – a busy road, a small master closet, a poorly laid out kitchen – will eventually make you regret your decision to buy it. Conversely, if your house lacks that thing that was most important to you, you will similarly begin to regret buying it. Remember, the ultimate decision on which home you purchase is yours. So, when you decide which house you want, make sure you can live with whatever is in the house you buy.
Make A Note Of That
The average buyer looks at about 10 homes before deciding to make an offer. After the first three or four, it’s easy to start forgetting the individual features of each one. By the tenth home, the first one may be nothing more than a blurry memory. One way to make the process more productive is by keeping good notes on each property. No matter how good your memory is, the specific features of any one particular home will fade with each successive home tour. If you end up looking at fifteen or twenty homes before you make a decision, your notes will come in handy. We can provide you with printouts for the homes you tour, but your own notes should supplement whatever we provide.
The style of notes you take is up to you. Some people devise a ratings system for each feature they want and they rate the features of each house they see. Others take pictures of each property or make videos. In the metro area, it is perfectly legal to take pictures of properties that are on the market, unless the sellers have specifically prohibited it. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply jot down the significant things you want to remember about each property. Whichever style of note taking you choose, it should be easy for you and enough to jog your memory.
In addition, you should pace yourself. Unless your timetable is so tight that you only have a couple of days to look, seeing more than six houses in one day can be exhausting and make your home buying experience more stressful.
Put Your Best Offer Forward
Be prepared to move quickly to make an offer on the home you want. If you’re interested, others may be, too, especially if the property is new to the market. We are trained to help you write and negotiate an offer that appeals to a buyer. Often, you will find yourself in a multiple bid situation and we can offer advice on how to present the best offer possible for your situation. Depending on the buyer’s response, always be prepared to walk away. Never get emotionally attached to any particular property until you’re sure everything will work out. Once you’re under contract, there is still the home inspection and title search to get through before you’re in the clear. It’s a business deal until you’re sitting at the closing table with your settlement agent.
Work closely with us to ensure that the process goes smoothly. We will be with you every step of the way.