Buying a home is a big undertaking, and can be overwhelming at times. You may not live near your new home's location, you might be juggling the demands of a new job and with a large family, you've got many competing priorities throughout the home buying (or selling) process. That's why it's important to understand your role, as you're just one member of the real estate team.
One of the most important things to understand is your role in the home buying (or selling) process. Picking the right real estate agent is important, and so is a mortgage broker but YOU are the team leader and your most important role is assembling your team to achieve your goals.
Your Real Estate Team Includes …
Here are the professionals you want on your team, because you can't do it all yourself.
- Real estate agent/broker, Realtor or buyer's broker
- Mortgage broker or loan officer at a bank
- Home appraiser to establish the market price for the home
- Home inspector and handyman to make repairs as needed
- Title company for title search and title insurance
- Real estate attorney or settlement company (depends on the state where you live)
- Insurance agent for required insurance, i.e. do you need flood insurance?
- Home stager to prepare your home for sale
- Moving company which typically also has people to help with packing
So for every real estate transaction there is a seller and a buyer. Let's look at the real estate process from listing your home, to buying or selling a house, financing your home and the closing. Of course, after the closing there will be 2 home owners moving and getting settled in their new homes.
Real Estate Team Members to Help Prepare Your Home for Sale
If you're selling your home, you need to understand the home professionals you need on your real estate team before you list your house for sale. Here is an overview of the various ways in which they can help.
- Realtors should offer a market analysis of your home to help determine the listing price plus a prioritized list of repairs and updates to get the best price.
- A home inspection before your home goes on the market is a good idea. There will be more showings and interest in your home in the first few weeks, so finding and repairing small items will help your home show better and avoid delays leading up to the closing. A well maintained home can influence prospective buyers who want a home in “move in condition”.
- You should de-clutter your home to make it look bigger and showcase your home's best selling points. While you might love your red kitchen, it's not for everyone so it's a good idea to use a home stager who knows how to present your home to attract the most buyers, from picking new colors to removing personal photographs and more.
- Don't focus all your energy on the inside of your home. How your home looks from the curb is very important to attract those who drive buy to want to see the inside so read Curb Appeal, A Quick Checklist.
A Real Estate Agent Should Guide You
For many homeowners, buying and selling a home is stressful given the financial decisions involved. Assembling the right real estate team can help take some of the stress out of the process, as these people have experience with many of the problems you might run into. They'll provide you with advice and resources to get through the process efficiently, critical with all the new regulations being added to address the problems that led to the housing bubble. Here are the most critical steps to the real estate process.
You want to work with a Realtor who has expertise in the type of transaction you're getting involved in. If you're buying a new home from a builder, or a home in foreclosure, find a real estate broker with this experience. Ask questions like how many short sales they've handled, and how many were successful.
- Your REALTOR® will help you negotiate the price with the other party, buyer or seller.
- Navigating the loan process has become extremely difficult so be sure to complete all paperwork early and track progress on a weekly basis. Be prepared to resend information as the banks are swamped and frequently lose paperwork holding up many closings.
- The bank will require an appraisal to support the purchase price and loan being requested. If you haven't bought a home recently, read Appraisal Guidelines Change.
- Inspections are important regardless of the type of home you're buying, i.e. a brand new home needs an inspection. You may need more testing, i.e. for water quality, air quality and well/septic inspections where applicable. Surprises aren't fun but you need to know what problems you're buying.
- Negotiating with the seller after the home inspection can be emotionally stressful. You want the house but you're not willing to pay for all required repairs, and want them done prior to closing. Learn about your options reading After the Home Inspection, Who Does What?
- Get your insurance in place and request the seller to get a report of insurance activity, i.e. so you can insure that all repairs have been completed. You may need special insurance like flood or earthquake insurance depending on where the house is located.
- The closing will follow the custom of your state, e.g. in California, the title company draws up all of the legal documents while in the Northeast, a lawyer does this work.You need to have a title search and purchase title insurance. The bank will require title insurance to cover the loan amount and given the housing bubble problems, you also want to buy coverage for your down payment.
Moving and Settling In
Now that the paperwork is signed, it’s time to move. Maybe your company is helping you move, or maybe you’ve invited friends and family to help you over the weekend. Whatever plan you have, take time to insure nothing gets lost or broken. Make sure that at the end of each day, you also take time to congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made as too often, we just focus on how much work is left.
It’s wise to have a plan for unpacking and settling in. When children are involved in the move, it’s a good idea to put their rooms high on the list to minimize their sense of dislocation (can you tell I've moved frequently). Where one/both adults are working at home, getting the home office up and running quickly is also important.