The spring home buying season is off and running, so to help make the buying process easier Iâ€™m offering some helpful tips for home buyers.Â In most areas buyers will find itâ€™s a â€œsellerâ€™s marketâ€ â€“ there are few homes for sale and prices are beginning to escalate.Â These tips arenâ€™t intended to explain the buying process, but they should help you get organized and ready to pounce when the right home comes along.Â There are five tips, so letâ€™s get started.
1. Create An Information Management System
Be prepared for the massive amount of information that will arrive once you start the buying process.Â Listings, photographs, market reports, property disclosures, inspections reports, mortgage pre-qualification documents â€“ a mountain of information that you will need to process and file BEFORE you ever make an offer.
Some buyers like to keep paper copies of everything in a standard file cabinet drawer (maybe an entire file cabinet).Â Others prefer to scan everything to their computer hard drive and index each file for speedy access.Â Scanning the information also makes it portable â€“ you can store it on a laptop or access documents using Dropbox or other mobile document access systems.Â My preference for a digital system is Microsoft Outlook or an equivalent, because Outlook can automatically file incoming and outgoing emails, contacts, meetings, phone call records, and notes all in one spot that can be backed-up regularly.Â You can also attach photos and documents to notes and messages.
Whether your information is stored in file folders or digitally, make your system one that supports the way you like to work.
2. Write Everything Down
If your broker hasnâ€™t mentioned it already, California buyers should be advised of the â€œStatute of Frauds.â€Â This is simply a legal requirement that all agreements relating to the sale of real estate must be in writing to be enforceable.Â â€œMust be in writingâ€ means that it must be contained in the purchase contact or an addendum signed by buyer and seller.
Many brokers carry the practice of writing everything down over to their communications with clients.Â For example, my standard practice is to write an email following each phone call or meeting to review what was discussed and to confirm all instructions and action items. Â I ask clients to return the email with a brief message to acknowledge receipt and either concur with or correct what Iâ€™ve written.Â A complete paper trail can be extremely helpful in many situations.
3. Keep Your Eyes Open
Your broker probably has five or six
sources for property listings, including the local multiple listing service (MLS),
online listing web sites, colleagues with off-market properties available, and others.Â You can help by talking to your circle of
contacts to see if anyone with a home you might want is considering a sale.
4. Keep Learning As You Go
While youâ€™re searching for a home, learn as much about the market as you can.Â You may have to adjust your expectations regarding the location, price and features of the home youâ€™re looking for based upon market conditions and the types of homes that become available.Â Make adjustments to your search criteria, if necessary, and keep your broker informed.
5. Be Ready To Respond Quickly To Opportunity
This is probably the most important of the helpful tips for home buyers, since all the preparation in the world wonâ€™t get the house you want if you donâ€™t act in a timely manner.
Most couples expecting a baby keep a hospital bag packed by the door, ready to go when the baby is ready to come.Â Assuming that you and your broker have gone through the initial buying steps of mortgage-prequalification, defining your target neighborhoods and characterizing your dream home, understand that the perfect home could arrive on the market at any time.Â Have whatever analysis tools you need to use available and be mentally prepared to move fast.
Consider the timing of your vacations, business trips, and other activities that could reduce your availability once youâ€™ve gone into â€œserious search mode.â€Â Plan to spend weekends ready to view open houses and new listings, since many agents typically launch a new listing on a Saturday or Sunday to maximize open house attendance and general exposure of the home.Â Note:Â Most open houses are announced by Thursday for the following weekend, so donâ€™t expect the â€œ2 a.m. callâ€ from your broker advising you of a tactical emergency requiring you to jump out of bed to write an offer for a new listing.Â Leave that stuff to the President.
Hope you found these helpful tips for home buyersâ€¦ helpful.Â If you have any questions about the home buying process or need help buying a home or investment property in todayâ€™s market in Silicon Valley, East Bay or the Wine Country, drop me a line.Â Contact Us
John A. Souerbry & AssociatesÂ (DRE 01370983)Â