I like to look at the home-buying process as moving forward along three paths: the money path, the contract path and the market path. Generally, people walk them simultaneously rather than one after another, but not always at the same speed along each path. And, of course, you have to put your first foot down somewhere . . .
I generally suggest that people step first onto the money path because that determines where to look when we start down the market path. There’s no denying home-buying can be stressful—even distressful. My goal is to help you minimize the stress and distress; understanding the financial options you have will help control the angst.
The first big step down the money path is pre-approval by a lender. Pre-approval benefits you in 3 ways:
Next, comes the contract path. “Whoa,” you might say. “Why should we be talking contracts when I haven’t found a home?” Good question, and it deserves a good answer. Contracts are complicated. They are, obviously, legal documents; their terms are binding, and they can run to 30-50 pages. They might contain details as simple as who gets the dining room light fixture, buyer or seller, or as complicated as common vs. private areas in condominiums; shared driveway access with a next-door neighbor or the terms of a pre or post-settlement occupancy. So it’s really important to understand them thoroughly before you sign your name.
The time to do this is sooner rather than later. Once you’ve found the house you want, you may not have much time to act, and that’s not a good time to start learning legal jargon and the basic points of real estate agreements. So, I like to schedule a session when we’re still just starting out on your home-buying journey to go over the various points of the contract and the terms you’ll probably encounter. We’ll strategize the best way to structure the terms in the contract documents so that they’re attractive to the seller, protect your interests and get you your new home.
Admittedly, it’s not fun, but it means you won’t gloss over details you shouldn’t when you find that dream home and all you want to think about is paint colors and where to put the sofa!
Last, but certainly not least, is the market path—time to step out and learn about neighborhoods, housing options, architectural styles and the many other components involved in making an educated buying decision. My goal is to help you become a market expert. I remember the old off-price clothing retailer Sy Syms whose tag line was “an educated consumer is our best customer.” I wholeheartedly agree! Understanding the market and what it has to offer starts with exploration of your wants and needs and leads to learning how different locations and different kinds of homes can help you satisfy as many needs and wants as possible. My job is to offer guidance and perspective to make the process easier and the end result a happier one for you. Interested in discussing it further, I’m happy to talk real estate, just give me a call, send a text or an email.