First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide: Part 3
Find a home
You’ve found the mortgage with the best rate and the right term for your life situation. Whether referred by a friend or fresh off an internet search, you’ve teamed up with a friendly mortgage professional. Now you’re ready for the third major step of the home-buying journey: finding your perfect home. This is when things get really exciting! Adding the right real estate agent to your team helps you locate the best neighborhoods and properties without taking too much time from your life.
Finding the right real-estate agent
Like your loan officer, your real estate agent needs to be knowledgeable, friendly and accessible. Below are important questions to ask during your first conversation with an agent:
What’s your experience?
A seasoned veteran with lots of experience will know the neighborhoods better and have more skill in handling unexpected situations.
Is this your full-time job?
Asking an agent whether they dedicate all of their professional time to real estate is a reasonable question because the answer may determine their accessibility.
Do you charge up-front fees?
The agent who requires a fee to get started on your search doesn’t need your business, though this can mean they’re highly successful and might close the deal faster if you’re willing to pay for it.
How will you keep me informed about progress?
Find out how frequently you can expect communications, and what times the agent is available for you to call with questions or for updates.
Researching the neighborhood
Now that you’ve found the right agent, it’s time to find the neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle. Consider these four general topics when doing your research:
- If you have children, the school district is the natural starting point of your search for the best neighborhood. A quality school has a positive effect on a child’s social development and prospects for future success, so it’s important to do some deep digging on this topic.
- Many people like to be in the thick of things, while others seek a little more solitude and less activity. If museums, theaters and the trendiest restaurants define your leisure time and social calendar, a neighborhood closer to the city is a no-brainer.
- Proximity to public transportation, infrastructure or everyday necessities is important to many people when searching for the right neighborhood. Walkscore.com is a useful site when you’re trying to determine relative distances to the bus stop, freeway or grocery store.
- Feeling safe in and around your home is essential for your peace of mind. A property’s safety factors include crime and violence, air and water quality and natural weather phenomena like hurricanes, tornados and floods.
In next week’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide…