By Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson
Step 1 – Establish Your Real Estate Dream Team
Before you start searching online or begin creating Pinterest boards around your dream kitchen, backyard, etc. lock in the most important people to help guide you through this process, your real estate agent and lender. These two people (along with yourself) make up the holy trinity of home-buying. Finding and choosing an agent and lender is really quite easy. PREMIER features some of the best in San Diego, you’re in the right place flipping through the pages of this magazine. The main objective is finding and working with people you trust. If you don’t have a realtor, ask friends and family if they’ve had good experiences with any realtors in the past. Once you have 2-3 to choose from, interview them and see who you have the best rapport with. If you don’t have recommendations from friends or family members regarding a lender, ask your real estate agent! When interviewing lenders, be sure there is not only trust and rapport, but also, that they have loan products that fit your buying needs. Remember, your agent and lender are working for you!
Step 2 – Get Pre-Approved
This is incredibly important as most agents will not allow a buyer to view their listing if they are not already pre-approved. It’s an immediate sign to the sellers (and their agent) that you might not be a serious buyer. Since you’ve already locked in your real estate dream team, connect with your lender and find out what your purchasing power actually is. Once you have your “pre-approval letter”, it’s time to start the house hunt!
Step 3 – Mentally Prepare For The Process
What’s your timeline? Are there several homes on the market that fit your criteria or are there few and far between? While you’re beginning your search, you and your agent should be dialed in to what it is you and your family are looking for. Depending on the type of home you’re purchasing, it can drastically change the escrow process.
- If you’re purchasing new construction, expect delays. Many new construction contracts will have a clause stating that the seller (builder) can delay for up to 12 months past your estimated closing date without penalty.
- Want to buy a fixer? Expect and plan for the inspection process to be lengthy and for the reports not to be pretty.
- Looking for something turnkey? So are the majority of home buyers. Understand up front that those types of homes are likely to sell for over list price. Only entertain them if your max offer is still under your pre-approval amount from your lender.
Step 4 – Communication is EVERYTHING
- Each of these steps are important, but this last one is the step most often missed or fumbled. From the time you establish your real estate dream team, there should be a regular communication schedule, even prior to getting an offer accepted. Find a cadence that works well for you and stick to it. Your agent and lender are your teammates but they also work for you, don’t forget that.
- Using the fixer example in step 3, it’s incredibly important your agent educates you on the importance of your contingency period lengths and how those are in place to protect you during escrow so you don’t lose your earnest money deposit in case you need to pull out of the deal.
- It’s not a matter of ‘if but when’ something sideways happens during your escrow period. The more you’re actively speaking to your agent and lender the more you can be prepared for whatever is thrown your way. When you and your team are communicating at a high level, the escrow process can be smooth sailing.
With low inventory and high buyer competition today, patience is key, but preparation and persistence (along with a great agent) will pay off. Best of luck with your home search!
Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson, Agents of Architecture, 858.232.6383, DRE # 02111716