You have the right agent in your corner and the loan pre-approval you are ready to buy a home. Now all we need is the home, so how do we find it? This is the biggest challenge in the whole process in our current “seller’s market” where home inventory is low.
First of all, I should mention the internet has been a game changer. Gone are the days when your agent is the only one with the information on homes & you as the consumer were helpless. Now everyone has access to the information and it’s not uncommon for the buyer to find their own home.
One word of caution regarding home sites like Zillow, Trulia, etc. These sites don’t always have the most accurate information, in fact in a fast selling market like we have now I’d steer clear of these sites. I think it’s better to have your agent set up an automated search for the area you want that will email you and the agent any time a new listing hits. This will give you the real time information you need.
So what if you have the auto search set up and you aren’t finding the home you want. This is common, in this market where homes sell fast it’s not likely the home you love is sitting there on day 1 when you start your search. You really need to zone in on what you want and be ready to pounce as soon as it hits the market. It’s a big, expensive long term purchase…don’t just buy a home quickly because you are ready to buy. (Quick tip: The best homes are gone fast so as soon as you see something you like notify your agent and try to see the home the same day)
I suggest that buyers go see some homes, even if they know it may not be “the” house for them, just to gain some perspective on what they really like and don’t like. You can only tell so much by looking on-line, you need to get out and “kick the tires” on some homes. When the home you love does appear you’ll have to act fast and you’ll be much more confident in doing so if you’ve been out and toured 6-10 other homes in the area.
What else can be done to help you find the home you want? A local agent that is focused one your selected neighborhood will go a long way. These hyper-focused agents will have a network of other agents they know in the area, they’ll have sellers approaching them to sell their homes and they’ll hear of coming soon deals. All of this can be a major advantage for you as their client! It’s not uncommon for a neighborhood focused agent to hear about deals before they ever hit the market which allows them to give their buyer clients the inside track.
Need an example? I recently had a client approach me about buying a modern style home in Stapleton on a quiet street in the $600k’s price range. I put out the word to my broker network in the area and found the perfect fit, an Infinity home that was coming soon but not yet on the market. Because I knew the listing agent he got us in early and even gave us a contingency on the purchase to allow us to sell my client’s home first. These are the benefits you get with a neighborhood focused agent that you would not get if you just had a generalist agent who works all over town.
One common mistake I see is a buyer will try to find their own home and then find the agent and lender to help them purchase the home. This is backwards and the home will surely be gone to a qualified prepared buyer before this unprepared buyer will have a chance to get their ducks in a row.