Congratulations! You’ve made a big decision to purchase a home, now what? The first thing to do is to find a Real Estate agent that you are comfortable with. This should be someone who communicates well and has the knowledge to help you find that perfect house. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors, which is a group of agents who have taken a vow to uphold a standard of ethics outlined by the Association to help protect buyers and sellers. Keep in mind that not all Real Estate agents are Realtors. Check out this link to read more about the Code of Ethics: http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/codeofethics-consumerquestions
The next thing you and your Realtor should do is to discuss the different types of “agency” that may come up during the process. If you are a buyer and you want your Realtor to protect your interest in one of the most important transactions of your life, you should ask about being your Buyer’s Agent and signing a Buyer Brokerage agreement.
Your Realtor will either meet with you in person at their office or possibly have a phone consultation with you about your needs and also about getting prequalified for a loan. This is absolutely essential if you are not paying cash because you need to find out if you are able to secure a home loan and find out what amount you can comfortably fit into your budget for payments. There are many types of home loans available and your agent can help guide you to lenders who can work with your needs.
Once financing has been worked out and you are prequalified for a home loan, you’re ready for the fun part… house shopping!
Your Realtor will send you current homes available from the MLS (Multi-List Service that is exclusive to Realtors) that meet your specifications and you may find some on your own on the internet (because we know you will be searching all the sites, too!) Be sure to ask your Realtor which public internet home site they prefer for most current homes. Our local MLS in the Savannah area feeds directly to Realtor.com, so that is the best option in this area.
Once you find a great home, it will be time for an offer. Your lender will send a letter to your Realtor to include with the offer that states that you are prequalified for a loan. This helps with the negotiation process because the seller knows you are serious. You will need some Earnest Money available to show the seller that you really are interested. (Earnest money will be held in a trust account and credited back to you at the closing) Your Realtor will help with the offer by sharing comparable home sales in the area, filling out the paperwork and offer, then presenting it to the seller’s listing agent. That is when negotiations begin and hopefully everything works out. The best situation is when everyone feels like they got the best outcome and will be happy with the results.
Good luck with your process! I will write another blog on the next step of the process for under contract.
Karen Miller is a Realtor with Southern Georgia Homes in Effingham County, Ga. She can be contacted by email at KarenMiller.Realtor@aol.com or by cell phone: 912-844-1057