OK, so you know that buying a home is a smart move, that you’re throwing your money away on rent, that the DC area is a great place to make an investment, etc., But still, it just seems so complicated and so scary to take what seems like such a big, permanent step! Well, the great news is that it really isn’t that complicated (if you have the right realtor to guide you) and it’s very unlikely to be a permanent decision (unless you keep your first home as a revenue-generating rental property when you purchase your second home!).
So, how can you make buying your first home a fun, exciting and educational experience rather than an anxiety-filled semi-blind plunge? It starts with finding a realtor who is a specialist in helping first-time homebuyers -- ideally one who actually remembers having gone through the process himself or herself. That means a realtor who understands the locations and amenities sought by young buyers; knows the best and most affordable housing types and neighborhoods; explains the financial assistance options available to them; and offers all the resources and services to make the process as easy -- and successful for them -- as possible.
You may know or be referred to a number of realtors and it can be difficult to decide which one will be the best to work with. That’s why I’ve created a comprehensive checklist of qualities and services that you should expect from a first-time homebuyer specialist. Just fill in the name of whomever you’re interviewing and check off those which he/she provides. The list is divided into the three areas and some of the ways in which a realtor can be most helpful.
Helping You Find a Home --A realtor familiar with your needs and preferences:
- Utilizes a vast realtor network and his/her local inventory insight to identify homes to match your desires and budget
- Researches homes and communities that offer the qualities and amenities you value such as access to public transportation, walkability, pet-friendliness, recreational and entertainment options, sense of community, etc.
- Finds homes with good appreciation potential based on historic knowledge and awareness of future trends and upcoming development projects.
Helping You Identify the Best Financial Options -- A realtor sensitive to your financial parameters:
- Explains the many mortgage and downpayment assistance programs offered by the federal and DC government (including to those with low credit scores)
- Helps you identify and plan for the additional costs of home buying (e.g,, insurance, homeowner or condo fees, potential repair/renovation costs, etc.)
- Assists you in getting pre-approval for a mortgage and recommends favorable loan terms
Helping You Purchase the Home -- A realtor committed to aggressively representing your interests:
- Calculates a fair offer price by drawing on his market knowledge, the property’s history, a variety of data sources, and his “read” on the seller’s motivation
- Recommends real-estate attorneys to inspect property title and deed and inspectors to identify structural defects in a home
- Negotiates to lower the price or add to the value of the home, to defend your offer and/or to add a contingency clause to protect your down payment if conditions are not be met by the seller.
The right realtor will try to balance your wish list and his business sense so that the home you buy is a wise investment as well as a place you love and cherish.
Compare realtors objectively using the complete checklist of services that a first-time homebuyer specialist realtor provides in my free eBook “Choose the Right Realtor: First-Time Homebuyer Edition.”