Robert Frost famously wrote “good fences make good neighbors.” Equally true is the statement “great teams lead to superior real estate transactions.” Although reality television shows lead some people to think differently, buying a home in today’s market means more than doing a simple search, looking at a few houses, and choosing your “forever home.” Home buying is a delicate process that involves many moving parts. Building a specialized team of professionals will help you make a successful transition from home buyer to homeowner.
Choosing a real estate agent
A skilled real estate agent is the foundation of your team. An agent works as your representative throughout the home buying process. Real estate agents have access to industry tools that allow them to locate homes that blend your price range with your lifestyle. They set appointments for home showings, complete market analyses for specific homes or neighborhoods, and negotiate real estate contracts. They also act as liaisons between all parties to a real estate transaction and your team. Three crucial characteristics you should look for in a real estate agent are reputation, compatible communication style, and his or her ability to achieve results.
Finding a Lender
Traditionally, a buyer works with a bank, credit union, or mortgage broker to secure a mortgage loan. Of course, not all lenders are created equally. There are various loan types available, including Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, and Renovation Mortgages, in addition to down payment assistance and first time homebuyer grants. Remember, a lender is a critical partner to your home buying experience. If you already have your money on deposit or have a loan with a financial institution, you may want to consider that institution as your first choice. If you are looking for a lender, your real estate agent will be able to connect you with one that has the programs and services that meet your needs.
Locating an Inspector
A thorough inspection of your new home is a must. A qualified inspector will assess the structure, the mechanicals, and the foundation of the home. He or she will also look for evidence of pest and insect infestation, moisture infiltration, and other factors that affect the condition of a home. After the inspection, you will receive a report with details on every aspect of your home, from the basement to the roof. The report usually contains a summary of items the inspector deems most important because of safety concerns or cost of repairs.
There are reputable inspection companies available in every city. Ask friends for referrals, search company websites and read reviews online, or contact companies directly to ask questions about the services they perform. Well-connected real estate agents will likely have a list of inspectors with positive references.
Consulting with Contractors
Contractors are individuals or companies that work with organizations or individuals for the construction or remodel of homes, buildings, or other structures. Your new home may be ready to move into with a few things you’d like to change to make it your own, or you may be purchasing a fixer-upper. In either case, having a qualified contractor on your team is essential. A contractor will help you access the scope of your project in terms of cost and time before you decide to make an offer on a home. This evaluation could be the difference between you selecting one home over another.
Engaging an Insurance Agent
Insurance is a critical component, not just in home buying, but with any major purchase. The cost of your homeowners insurance will be factored into your monthly mortgage payment. Shopping for the best coverage at the best rate is a good practice. When discussing insurance with an agent, ask about:
- Multi-policy discounts
- Life events and how they impact your coverage
- External situations and their impact on your coverage
- Flood insurance
Do you have up-to-date life insurance or an annuity? Do you own a car or other insured property? You may want to start with companies that already provide insurance on other types of property you own. As an existing customer, you may be able to get a better rate on your homeowner’s insurance. If you want to shop for the best rate, get two to three estimates to compare.
Building a great team will help you realize your dream of owning a home. Knowing what to look for in your team members and what they can offer will make your search easier.