At age 12, your biggest purchase was the toy you saved a month of allowance for. At 18, it was that pair of shoes you had to have. Now, as an adult, you’re gearing up to make your biggest purchase yet: your first home. The budget is higher and the stress consumes you as the excitement of homeownership propels you forward. What an exciting time! Right?
You’ll have to excuse our optimism. This isn’t our first time. We’ve seen it all—buyer remorse, buyer freak-outs, buyer drama, buyer tears, buyer joy—and we don’t blame you. With hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, it’s perfectly normal to feel tense or anxious. But like anything else, getting advice from someone who’s been there before can help ease your worries.
We’ve broken down your ‘buyer journey’ into three levels that will help you maintain your perspective throughout the process.
Level 1: The Search
Soon after deciding it was time to buy a home, you opened your computer and began your descent into the Zillow rabbit hole. You spent hours each day shopping for homes, envisioning the memories you’d make with every photo you viewed. Then, you reach out to an agent and entrust them with helping you find your fairytale. Great! Now, follow these rules to keep your excitement from turning into dread:
Be Realistic and Pace Yourself
You were pre-qualified for a reason! Know your budget and stick to it.
Visualize the possibilities. Don’t let your dream home ideal make you close minded.
Too many options make your head spin! Schedule a maximum of 5 showings at a time to allow yourself to digest the homes you’ve seen.
Level 2: The Offer
You’ve finally found ‘the one’. Its time to put in that offer. This is usually where the freak-outs begin. Where do you start your offer? How long before you get a response? What happens if they don’t accept your offer? Ah!!…Relax. Now is when you lean on your trusty sidekick—your real estate agent.
Lean On Me!
Trust your agent’s opinion. You hired them and they’ve been here before.
Ask questions. Ease your anxiety by asking your agent to clarify the process for you.
There’s always another. If your offer gets rejected, don’t worry. You will find another home. We promise.
Level 3: The Inspection Period and Loan Approval
Many buyers fail to understand the exit options available to them when they enter into a contract. The inspection period is one such option. They feel that once a seller accepts their offer they are bound to purchasing the property. Not so!
Serious defects without credits mean no deal! An inspection will reveal any structural issues not immediately visible during your visit to the home. You may request credits for any serious defects that come to light but keep in mind this is not an invitation to be petty or picky. Consult your agent when deciding if you should back out of the deal.
Your pre-approval letter allowed you to know exactly how much house you could afford. But your financing process is still incomplete. While you anxiously wait to be approved, consider the following:
Trust your mortgage lender. Again…you hired them and they’ve been here before. Ask for calcification if you’re unsure of what to expect next.
Avoid sudden changes to your financials. Don’t make any sudden purchases or payoffs with your credit cards. Sit tight while the lender reviews your financial information. If they need more info, provide it to them. Don’t be difficult.
Final Level: The Closing
You’re almost there! All your finances are in order, the inspection is clear and every light is green. Buyers usually experience more excitement than dread during this phase. Any anxiety a buyer may feel usually stems from a lack of understanding.
Ask for document clarity. Chances are you’ve never seen most of the documents you’ll be signing. If you’re unsure what certain closing documents mean, ask your agent to explain their purpose to you. The process will move as slowly as you need it to.
Trust your agent. Experienced agents hate headaches as much as you do. If they’re not stressing, you shouldn’t be stressing.
You made it! With keys in hand, you leave the closing office on the way to your new home. While it’s unreasonable to assume your expectations matched your actual experience, we can hope that knowing how to get your questions answered throughout the process made it relatively painless.
Remember that your agent has your best interest in mind. They are your guru on this journey. Rely on their expertise and ask the questions that give you peace of mind.