While all you say about what you would provide to a buyer if they contacted you is true alas all buyers will not be contacting you. There are good Agents and Bad Agents so a Consumer should first inform themselves enough about the Process and what it is they wish to do so they can choose wisely when the Selection of an Agent/Services is made...With the internet there is plenty of good information available to the public to learn a little about the obligations, responsibilities and options available to them in order to make decisions that may best help them attain their goals.
I still suggest informing yourself about the process, different options (Foreclosures/Fed Loans/Resources) and understanding your goals so the other important decisions like choosing a Agent or a Lender can be made wisely and with a understanding of what your options are.
The first thing to do is not find a Realtor or a Lender. Why? Because the selection of both are important decisions which can impact the process of buying a home in a Positive way or a negative way.
Agents are selling Services and you need to know enough about your options, types of Services available, your goals, your targeted market area ect.. to be able to ask the questions necessary and interview wisely so you make the correct selection for you.
Selecting an Agent is not a (Find a Agent) situation, you are hiring Services so show the responsibility needed to interview, ask questions, shop around, compares Services, Commissions, Fees and YOU choose an Agent to Hire that will best assist you in attaining your goal...
The same applies for a Lender..Choose Carefully and shop around....
The FIRST Thing you need to do is become as informed about the Process as possible, you are considering a Huge Financial obligation and will be making decisions which will impact your life for many years. It is your responsibility to yourself and family to take the Process/obligation seriously by informing yourself in preparation of decisions this important so you may act wisely.
Hud suggests 9 steps...
1. Figure out how much you can afford
2. Know your rights
3. Shop for a loan
4. Learn about homebuying programs
5. Shop for a home
6. Make an offer
7. Get a home inspection
8. Shop for homeowners insurance
9. Sign papers
I would suggest reading their page on buying and the resoning for the steps they suggest, plus review the resources/tools provided..
Use the internet...learn what you can about the Area you are interested in...Look at the Bank/Gov Foreclosure sites to get an idea of Pricing, the Process ect..The sites explain it all..The links to the Bank/Gov sites can be found here..http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/wiki/REO_Database_List.asp ... http://www.biggerpockets.com/bank-reo.html
Look at the local listings also and give yourself an idea of what's available....
This is the FED Gov. site for all Fed. housing loans, you can get specific information, compare options, or take a short questionnaire to determine your eligibility for each program.
Do what you are doing now....Ask Questions...Learn...Then Shop
Real Estate Agents go back over 100 years. In today's world that we live in, nothing stays around long unless there is a need for it. I've been selling real estate for many years now, and the tougher the market the more valuable a good experienced agent is. Selling homes is something I do daily and usually my clients only sell-purchase a few homes in a lifetime. Though it seems simple to do and sometimes it can be, but if something starts go go wrong, then a GOOD AGENT IS PRICELESS.
Just remember that this is probably the more expensive purchase you will have to date and to have someone watch over your choice, guide you and perhaps save you money with good smart aggressive negitaging....may be the smartest decision you make.
Do your research, do back ground checks on their past and PRESENT CLIENTS then you decide who will work their best for you.
Good luck and ENJOY THIS EXCITING TIME IN YOUR LIFE.
I think starting the home buying process by speaking with an agent is a perfect place to start..."start" being the operative word. It's a beginning, not a conclusion.
I am not looking to get married when I first sit down with a new client....even if that client thinks they may already be "educated" in regard to buying a home, they probably aren't. I always schedule time to walk them through the process step by step, clearing explaining what to expect. There is no guranatee I will see them again, but I feel it is my duty to make sure they understand the process. It is their duty to also find out as much as they can and be educated....your links and suggestios along those lines are excellent.
Let me say that I responded from my own perspective. Perhaps I should have pointed that out to Cris.
Cris, Where I am, we don't rush to have anyone sign any agreements that bind them to us. In fact, we work without any such agrements. So....I have often counseled a new buyer ......given them a detailed overview of what to expect..and not wound up working with them . That's ok.............I am a great source for someone who doesn't know where to begin......lots of valuable information......no strings attached.
I am a quick "in person" real estate 101 course! Theother agents in my area work the same way.
I have an in-house mortgage broker who is there as an accommodation to help pre-qualify a buyer so they DO know what they can afford in advance. Once again.....no strings attached. The buyer is free to go elsewhere for their mortgage.....and I let them know they are free to shop around so they can be sure they are doing the best they can. The in-house mortgage person is there to help make the home buying process as easy as possible............but no one is obligated to use him
When someone like Cris says "I don't know where to begin"....your list is certainly helpful and complete, but it can also be quite overwhelming.....as there are lots of "to do " items on the list which might be confusing to someone brand new to the market.
I agree with you (as we often agree) that everyone should absolutely do whatever they can to educate themselves. I love working with an informed consumer. Many buyers come to me already "internet educated" in some respects..They usually still have a lot to learn about the process.
But............just as a starting point, sitting down with someone like me is a great way to start (come on Dunes..wouldn't you want to sit down and talk to me! :) ) Anyway, . I am not looking to attack or have anyone sign on the dotted line. That isn't going to happen. It's an informative meeting which may or may not lead to an ongoing business relationship.
The way I offer advice here on trulia.......I offer advice in the real world to perspective clients, too,
My one error, perhaps, was not pointing out to Cris that this isn't how it may work in his area where exclusive buyer agreements seem to be common .....that's .not so here.
Cris...........good luck in your home search...............I wish you a smooth trip to the closing table!
Dunes.....have a great day.....did Kitty graduate college yet or finish rewiring the house??
I think the first thing anyone should do when thinking of buying a home is......(drumroll please)...........find a good Realtor! (gee, what a surprise answer) !
Seriously................find an agent (ask friends or stop by a local agency and speak to the manager for a referral) .....then sit down, and let him or her walk you through the process, step by step............this way you will know what to expect.......the next part is to have them recommend a mortgage broker........you will then sit down with them and see where you are financially, and what you will be approved for, and what the costs are.........once you have those 2 pieces of the real estate puzzle, you are ready to start looking at homes !!
Again..a good agent will hold your hand through the entire home buying process, and guide you through the various stages.
Be open to style and area when you first begin your search..The more homes you see, the more you can narrow it down....and, the more confidence you will have in making a final choice.
Good luck in your home search!
Prudential NJ Properties
ps I am sure you will see a number of agents respond here anxious for your business..........interview a few until you find the right "fit" and feel a rapport!
You can ask friends, relatives or coworkers who they used for a loan and go apply.
If you know a realtor that you would like to use they can refer you to a good loan officer.
Like Cindi (the 1st response) said, compare between lenders, fees maybe different from one and another.