Roughly half of my time is spent helping Buyer clients Find Their Dream Home. I love this part of my job. Some agents think it is a waste of their time looking at 10 or 20 houses with their buyer clients, but I don’t mind at all. Actually I love looking at houses more than some of my clients do.
A Buyers agent’s main job is to assist his clients in finding the “Perfect Home”. There are many other things that an agent has to do, whether helping Buyers or Sellers, but I want to focus on just this one… 5 Tips to Finding Your Dream Home.
1. Write a List of What You NEED.
The most important question to ask when buying a home is, “Does this home have everything we need”? The best and easiest way to answer this question is to plan ahead. Make a list of everything you and your family will need with the purchase of your dream home. It would be best to prioritize the list. The easiest way to do this is to start writing down everything you can think of that is a “Must Have”, then go through the list and put everything in order of importance.
The idea is to make sure your dream home has everything on this list. The reason you should prioritize the list is that it will help your Realtor search through property listings quicker. Then he/she can direct you to the right properties without having to waste time on homes that don’t have everything you need.
2. Write a List of What You WANT.
YES, after all this is your “DREAM HOME”. Same as above make a list of everything you want and prioritize the list. This time have fun with it! Put everything you can imagine on this list. Whether it’s granite in the kitchens and bathrooms, a “Man Cave”, a 3 tier deck with a natural gas grill, an in-ground pool, pool house, 18 car garage with a lift, or anything you can think of, put it on the list.
It might seem crazy to put all of this on the list but remember you are going to put everything in order of importance. The 18 car garage with a lift will be on the list but if it’s the last thing on the list chances are you may not get it. Every item on your list may not be available in one home but if you are working with an outstanding Realtor he/she will be able to help you find a home that includes many of your wish list items and make sure you can add the items not already there to the home your buying.
3. Get Pre-Approved.
Only about 16% of buyers purchased a home with all cash in Stark County Ohio in 2017. What that means is the majority of buyers (84%) need to get a loan to purchase a home. For these buyers getting Preapproved is the most important step of the home buying process. This step is overlooked by many Buyers, especially first time home buyers.
Getting preapproved is fairly easy to do. Most lenders can do this over the phone or right on their website or App. You just give them your financial information, amount in savings, current employer and wages and SSN. That’s about it, it’s pretty simple getting preapproved.
Once you get approved you will get a Pre-Approval Letter from your lender. This will state the type of loan, FHA, VA, USDA, or conventional. The letter will also state the amount you are approved for. This usually will say something like “Approved for a Conventional loan not to exceed $285,000 with an estimated down payment of $15,000 with an interest rate of 4.15%”.
Now that you know that you can get a home loan and how much you can borrow you can confidently look at homes in your price range. Another reason to get preapproved is that most Sellers will require a copy of your preapproval letter with an offer submitted. It is very wise to take care of this before you start looking at homes because there is a chance that you would find your Dream Home and lose it to another buyer while waiting for a preapproval letter. This may sounds crazy or unlikely to you but houses were moving fast in my area last year. In 2017, in Stark County Ohio, just over 40% of homes listed SOLD in under 30 Days and 24% SOLD in less than 2 weeks. I sold multiple properties in under 1 week in 2017, one property I got a call with an offer only 10 minutes after putting the sign in the yard. Be prepared, get preapproved early.
4. Search by Location vs. Price Range.
This may sound strange but it makes sense when you think about it. What’s the most important factor in Real Estate? LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! The one thing you can’t change about a home is location, unless you spend a ton of money hiring a building moving company. When you search by price range alone you will get too many results to go through. There might be a home in your price range but it’s not in the school district you want or it’s too long of a commute to work.
The best way to search for a home is to start by searching by location, whether that be city, neighborhood, school district, or by a radius of your job. Check out what comes up and see what the price range is of the homes in your desired area. If the results come back with too many homes to go through then you should narrow it down by price, number of bedrooms, lot size or any of your need list items. When working with a Realtor, one of the first things they will ask is “Where would you like to move”? Location is always the starting point of a good home search.
5. Aim High!
WHAT?!?!? Yes, look at homes above your price range. Now let’s not get crazy here though. If you are approved for $225,000 don’t look at homes listed at $350,000, which you would never have a shot at. The truth is most Sellers are willing to take a little less then they listed their home for and if you are working with a great Realtor that is really good at presenting offers and negotiating then you will have a shot at a home listed $5,000 or $10,000 above your limit.
Now there are other factors that might come into play. How long a home has been listed for or DOM (Days On Market) will play a role in how much a home will sell for. A Seller that has a home with 300 DOM will be more likely to take a lower offer then a Seller with less than 30 DOM and if it’s the first day they listed it then forget the “Low Ball” offer altogether. Another factor in presenting an offer lower then list price would be a “Multiple Offer” situation. Almost all multiple offer situations produce a sale price at or above list price so again the low ball offer won’t work.
The best advice I can give someone wanting to find their Dream Home would be to find a good local Realtor and then follow these tips. A Realtor will walk you through your Home Buying and dream home finding process. I have had many satisfied Buyer clients that I was able to help find their dream home. I never try to push a home on a buyer, I never want to hear from a buyer, “You sold me the wrong house”. If they don’t love a house we keep looking until we find the one they do. Using these 5 Tips to Finding Your Dream Home has helped many of my Buyer clients find their Dream Home.