When you have made the decision to buy a home, it is time to find a real estate agent to represent you. You should go through the process to interview several agents, talk about their experience, and call some of the references they give you. Then, pick the one that you feel can best represent you and help you buy a great property. But once you’ve selected that agent, you might wonder; “What’s next?" and "What are the things my agent should do for me?"
The first thing your real estate agent should do once you've picked a property is direct you to a mortgage lending professional or two. This is because without sitting down with a lender and getting qualified for financing, you probably do not know within which price range your buying power affords. The lender will look at your income and debt payments, which are your liquid assets and cash, and pull a credit report. Then, they can let you know the maximum-priced house you can purchase. With this information, you can let the sales professional know what range you will be comfortable spending, like $250,000, and then the sales professional can start to work for you.
Your realtor should then meet with you and instruct you, depending on your knowledge level, about the local areas, costs, the buying process, the type of property you want, and the types of areas and living situations you'd prefer. They should also answer any questions you may have. They will use all of your inputs and research what areas of town fit what you want and what you can afford. They should then set up an automatic query in their multiple listing service (MLS) so that all the properties that match your criteria are automatically emailed to them and you.
As you review the listings that come out of the MLS with your realtor, you can look at the pictures and descriptions and figure out what properties may be of interest to you. The sales professional can then schedule with you, the listing agent, and the owner to set up for you to view the properties. You should really view at least 10-20 properties over several months so that you really get a feel for what the market has to offer. You may not find something that works for you for a while, so keep shopping, looking, and going to open houses until you find the property that you love and will own for a long time.
Once you find that property, your agent will prepare for the purchase and you will sign a purchase offer for the property. Take your time and read it carefully because it’s the largest purchase you will ever make, so be cautious. In conjunction with this, you and your agent should review recent comparable sales of similar properties and the listing price, plus the market and how many other offers you feel will be submitted, and submit your written offer with the price and terms you would like to have the seller accept. Hopefully, you will be in the seller’s ballpark and with a little negotiation here and there, you will be the one who gets the signed contract and the property into escrow.
Once you enter escrow, the agent will coordinate all the other disclosures and addendums you need to review and/or sign, assist you to move forward with financing, help get the home inspection moving, help escrow and coordinate all the items and issues that need their i’s dotted and t’s crossed. There really is a lot of work, and most laypersons have no idea what a property sale entails. But once you get your home inspection done and decide to move forward with the purchase, your agent will facilitate and assist in keeping you in line and on time within the contracted purchase agreement terms.
With any luck, in the following 30-45 days, your agent will probably negotiate a little more over the price or terms on your behalf and you will move forward and close escrow on and take title to the property.
And then you can move in and relax. Whew!