Advice for the First Time Home Buyers
Buying your first home is a pretty big deal. You’re probably not going to realize how big a deal until you write that down payment check – literally the biggest check you will have ever written. But there’s no turning back at that point. You want to know, before all those zeros disappear from your savings account, that you’ve picked the right house, with a solid foundation, good plumbing, a roof that won’t leak and light switches that work, on a street without too much traffic that’s walking distance to a self-serve frozen yogurt place that charges less than 35 cents an ounce.
There’s no way you can be sure all your bases are covered, and that you’re getting your house at the absolute best price (less than your new neighbors paid for theirs, of course) without a professional watching out for you.
A little more real estate education than you might want
Let’s say you walk into an open house and instantly love the place. You want to put down an offer as soon as possible, and don’t have anyone to represent you, so you decide to work directly with the listing agent.
Here’s something the listing agent won’t tell you: In real estate sales, there is a “client” and a “customer”. The client is the person who hired the realtor to represent them (in other words, the person selling the house is the listing agent’s client). The person on the other end of the transaction is the customer (that’s you). While the listing agent must disclose all important information to everyone, their primary goal is to look out for their client – the seller. So… how can you know that you’re being looked out for if you don’t hire your own agent?
Since all home buyers love bullet points…
I highly suggest you take a look at these other reasons to enlist a real estate agent (ie. Ben Vorspan) to represent you through the buying process. Here are the highlights, copied word for word, with small edits to make it sound like I do it best:
- Ben Vorspan can help you determine your buying power — that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give Ben some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders — banks and mortgage companies — offer limited choices.
- Ben has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by Ben to find all available properties.
- Ben can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Ben has access to a variety of informational resources. He can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
- Ben can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Ben can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
- Ben provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Ben can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Ben, your title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
- Ben can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.
- Ben can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
So, when you’re ready to buy a home in Encino, Sherman Oaks, or anywhere in the San Fernando Valley, contact me!