No matter what stage of life you are in, we are constantly hit with “firsts” that overwhelm and intimidate us. Whether you are buying your first car, having your first child, or starting your first job, these milestones seem daunting, especially when we take them on without help. Buying your first home, however, can become a virtually painless experience once you entrust your realtor to guide you through the process. By voicing what is important to you, setting the constraints, addressing any concerns you may have throughout the entire process, and having patience, you will enable your realtor to know you better and find a home that best suits you and your family’s needs.
We’ve all been there: we start to entertain the idea of buying a home, so we browse our favorite realty websites and become immediately bombarded with variables we didn’t even know existed. What part of town do I want to live in? What mortgage lender do I want to use? How old of a home am I comfortable purchasing? What is my budget? What you imagined would be a leisurely search by applying a few filters can quickly turn into a stress-inducing black hole of seemingly infinite options. To this point, I suggest an incredibly simple solution to what seems like an impossible problem: let your realtor do the work. Seriously! These are professionals with years of experience, and their knowledge and resources are at your disposal — be sure to take advantage! So take a breath, and allow your realtor to do the dirty work for you.
In the same sense that you need to be thorough and transparent with your doctor so that he/she can properly treat you, it is important to express all of your wants, needs, expectations and worries with your real estate agent so that he/she can help you to the fullest extent in your search for the perfect home. The classic saying “help me help you” comes to mind here, as the realtor can only find your ideal property once they are made aware of exactly what it is that you are looking for. Knowing that your real estate agent is there to serve and assist you, be sure that you disclose all of the details that are relevant to your search, even if they seem trivial. Begin by assessing where your priorities lie. Is it important that your neighborhood is zoned to a high-performing school? Have you always dreamed of having a spacious backyard for your children to play in? Would you prefer that your home be near lots of activity, or do you want to be more secluded? Rack your brain for what it is that you truly desire in a home, and be sure to communicate that directly to your realtor. Trust and open communication is key when it comes to establishing a successful agent-client relationship.
After conveying your requirements to your realtor, it is crucial (although not nearly as enjoyable) to set the constraints associated with buying a home. This is where transparency plays a major role. Your realtor may find a home that has all of the features that you love, but if it is out of your personal price range, then however perfect the home is becomes a moot point. Being vague or unclear about how much you are ultimately comfortable spending results in confusion and frustration on both sides. So be concrete and honest with your realtor, and trust that they can work within the parameters that you have provided them. Remember: they do this for a living! However unpleasant, be sure to clearly address your limitations so that the real search can begin.
Now that you have an outline of what it is that you’re looking for, be prepared to view your realtor’s suggestions with a critical eye. Be ready and willing to say no to homes that you know off the bat do not meet your established criteria. Feigning a pleasant reaction to a home your realtor is showing you for politeness’ sake will only prolong the process. Be direct and concise — your realtor will thank you for this! If you are not loving the direction your real estate agent is going in, share that with him/her. While a huge part of this process is keeping an open mind, it is also okay to be underwhelmed of the options that are presented to you. Ultimately, it is you and your family who will be living in any given home, so your opinion matters most.
Lastly, even with the expertise of a seasoned realtor, the search for your first home shouldn’t be brief. However anxious you may be about settling into the perfect house, it is vital to exercise patience. Don’t compromise quality or specific features that you like for the sake of time – your realtor can and will find a home that satisfies your unique preferences. Since this is one of life’s bigger decisions, avoid rushing through it. There may be times where you feel exasperated from what seems like a never-ending search, but imagine your satisfaction when the waiting pays off and you sign the contract on the home you’ve been dreaming of.
As you are now well aware, the process of buying your first home brings with it feelings of stress and doubt. This journey can begin to feel like a headache as you’re hit with contracts, limitations, and sometimes disappointing outcomes. But take heart in the fact that this is a huge milestone and a major accomplishment that is worth celebrating. This should be an exciting time, not one that is totally overridden by anxiety! Also know that many have gone through this process and that advice is readily available from friends and family (and, of course, your realtor!). Try not to get caught up in the thousands of real estate websites and homeowner forums, and instead learn to trust your instincts. As long as an open line of communication is maintained, you and your realtor together will find the home that is meant for you.
Congratulations on entering this new and exciting phase of your life, and happy searching!