Updated: Nov 2
Buying a home is a taxing experience. You want to get it right – you need to get it right – and that means you need to find the right house. For a first time home buyer, this experience can be even more exhausting because you don’t have the benefit of experience, but you can still have the benefit of a real estate agent. You may ask, “Do I need a realtor?” and that answer is simple: Yes.
What a Real Estate Agent Does for a Buyer
It’s easy to believe that buying a house is now as easy as looking at real estate websites and picking out a house. However, there are a lot of things that must be done before and during the buying process. Knowing how to buy a house is one thing, but knowing how to do it efficiently and as seamlessly as possible is another thing. That’s why having a real estate agent is important. Here’s what a real estate agent does for a buyer at each step of the home-buying experience.
How to Buy a House: First Steps
There are several things to consider before you purchase a new home. The effort you put into home buying considerations can make all the difference in the home buying process.
Step 1: Understand What You Want
This step takes a bit of getting to know yourself. Part of understanding what you want is asking yourself some identifying questions, like:
How long do you intend to stay in the home?
Do you or will you have children?
Do you need room to grow?
Do you care how safe the location is or what the schools in the district are like?
Do you want to be able to walk or quickly drive to restaurants, work, or school, or do you want to be away from the city?
Do you want a fixer-upper or a brand new home?
Step 2: Determine How Much Home You Can Afford
Considering that homebuyers are generally expected to pay a down payment of 20%, you can anticipate purchasing a home that is somewhere between three- and five-times your household income. There are affordability calculators online to help you better understand how much house you can afford.
Step 3: Confirm That You Qualify for a Mortgage Loan
Finding out that your mortgage loan won’t fully cover the house of your dreams is a major disappointment. Whether you meet with a local bank, credit union, mortgage broker, or contact an online company of your choosing, be sure to get verification that you are qualified for the amount you intend to borrow.
Step 4: Find a Good Real Estate Agent
This can be done through word-of-mouth referrals or by evaluating credible reviews online.
How to Buy a House: Benefits of a Real Estate Agent
Now that you know you can move forward with buying a home, it is important to understand what a real estate agent does for you. This provides knowledge of the process and a checklist to fall back on to make sure your real estate agent is doing what he or she needs to do. No doubt, if you’ve found a well-respected agency, your real estate agent will be doing what’s expected as a minimum.
Step 1: Finding Prospective Homes
Finding homes is an exhausting experience. You can spend days doing this. Fortunately, a real estate agent is very experienced in searching Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other databases to find houses that match your criteria. Within a limited period of time, the agent can secure a list of ten or more homes to tour.
At these house tours, the real estate agent will also guide you through the tour, identifying key issues that you – not having an eye for the trade – may have overlooked. The agent may also highlight some unique aspects of the home. Overall, the real estate agent acts as your insightful guide who is capable of answering any questions you may have during or after the home tour.
Step 2: Choosing a Home
After viewing several houses, it may be time to choose a home. Maybe there are two or three you really like. Your real estate agent can provide an objective opinion about each, helping you decide on the house you wish to buy without deciding for you. Your agent can help you get a good grasp of the whole picture of the house, reminding you of what aspects were good and not so good, including location, taxes, any foreseeable repair costs, and more.
Since this part can be stressful, especially for first time home buyers, the counsel of an experienced real estate agent can do wonders to ease the mind and minimize the stress involved in choosing a new home.
Step 3: Arranging a Pre-Purchase Home Inspection
This is a very important part of the process. Pre-purchase home inspections can uncover any structural problems with the home that were not easily visible during the tour. This includes checking the foundation, plumbing, electrical system, and heating and cooling system, among other things. Inspections for mold, wood destroying organisms / termites, and radon may also be arranged.
Step 4: Negotiating the Price
The lender will arrange for an appraisal once you decide on the home. Your realtor will negotiate the price based on the appraisal and the rates for similar houses in the neighborhood to ensure you get the best price for your house. Once a price is confirmed, your real estate agent will guide you through the process of entering into an agreement of sale.
Step 5: Manage all the Final Details and Paperwork
Your realtor will also take control of any other final details and all the paperwork. As you can imagine, a lot can slip through the cracks, but a realtor will keep everything organized and updated. Your realtor will guide you through the paperwork to complete the sale, including the loan documents.
Step 6: Oversee the Closing
Your realtor will make sure everything is complete and provide the check to the seller. Once the seller receives it, the house is yours.
Real Estate Agent Checklist for Buyers
There’s a lot that goes into buying a house, but now you have a good working idea of what a real estate agent does for a home buyer. In summary, here’s your real estate agent checklist:
Determine what you want in your new home.
Find out what you can afford.
Obtain pre-approval for a mortgage loan.
Find a respected realtor.
Let your realtor do the work for you by finding a list of homes and guiding you through the entire process.
If you are looking to buy a house, don’t fret. Know that a real estate agent can do wonders for you and put your trust in them. Before you know it, you’ll be a proud owner of a new home.