Amanda Bennett is a fantastic realtor from Middle Tennessee. To help out our future homeowners or apartment hunters we asked Amanda to share some well-needed tips to help find your dream home or perfect apartment. Photography by Mandy Liz Photography.
What are the two most important things to do or prepare for BEFORE you start searching for a new home/apartment? Take a good look at your finances to figure out what you can comfortably afford. Just because you can get a loan for a certain amount does not mean that is a smart financial decision. Be realistic. Your future self will thank you. Get preapproved for a loan. Don’t be afraid to shop around a little for rates.
What should a home/apartment buyer/renter bring with them to help have a productive viewing or search when apartment/house hunting? A list of 3-5 things your next home MUST have. Prioritize. Is it a need or a want? Sure you would like a walk-in closet the same size as your master bedroom but is that need? It will help guide your realtor in finding the home that best fits you.
I provide my buyer clients a form with spaces they can quickly make notes on as they go through the home as well as a copy of the property details from the MLS. Having those entries to go back to later will be valuable in comparing properties. After you have seen several homes, you may not remember specific details. Having those notes in front of you can help in making your final decision.
Also, all those involved in the decision-making process of home buying/renting should go on the house/apartment hunting if possible. If not possible, it is helpful to have your phone handy to get photos of things you know they would want to see as well as quick videos to share. Listing agents will often have professional quality video tours of the home up on their website to view also.
What are two questions buyers should be prepared to ask a realtor? Here are a few things that would be good to ask a realtor before you decide to work with him/her. How many homes have you sold in this area or how long have you been in this area? You want a realtor who knows a lot about the market in which you would like to buy. All the necessary information about average days homes are on the market, average sale price, average list price to sale price, also what is building up in the area, what industries are already there, how to find the best Mexican restaurant. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my point. Ask the realtor to provide a list of 'Recent' properties they have listed and sold. The price range and locations of these homes may give you an idea of where the realtor has good market knowledge also. Additionally, it is always a good idea to look online for reviews from past clients or merely ask the realtor for a few references you can contact. Even new agents should have some references who can speak to their abilities and character.
What should buyers/renters expect a realtor to ask before they take a client out to see a home/apartment? Have you been pre-approved for a loan? If yes, for how much? Alternatively, for renters, how much do you want to spend per month? The realtor can then focus in on finding properties that fit in this price range. It will also position you as a buyer to make an offer quickly when you do find the home you want.
Are you working with a realtor yet, or more specifically, have you signed anything with a realtor, however? If you have signed an exclusive agreement with a realtor already, it is a contract between you and the realtor (realtor’s brokerage) in which you both agree to a private working arrangement for a period.
If you answer yes to this question, a wise realtor will suggest you contact the realtor with whom you have the signed agreement to assist you in your home search. Nothing personal towards you. It helps the second realtor away from potential legal or ethical problems that could arise.
Ask yourself: When would you like to/need to be moved into your new home? The answer to this question will let the realtor know where in the house hunting process you are and how to assist you moving forward with a successful plan to get you in your new home in the timeframe you need. Finding your “dream home” and then missing out on it because you were not quite ready to make an offer can be disappointing. You do not want that, and neither does your realtor.
What are some of the warning signs a home buyer should look out for when a realtor does NOT have a client's best interest at heart? Let me preface this answer by saying that there are a lot of fantastic realtors out there and just as many different ways of doing business. A word of caution though in proceeding with a realtor if he/she talks more about what he/she can offer you than listening to or acknowledging your needs. For instance, showing you homes way out of your price range or homes that don’t meet any of your list of priorities should quickly tip you off that the realtor focus is not on you as the buyer. It comes down to if you trust the realtor though.
Communication is vital, and people communicate differently. Go with your gut instinct. For example, even if the realtor has nothing but good intentions if you as the buyer do not trust them or feel comfortable working with him/her, buying a home is not going to be a good experience. You most likely won’t refer the realtor to your friends or family. The realtor does not want that either. If you think the relationship is not a good match for any reason, thank them for their time and kindly agree to part ways. It will be best for everyone involved. There are plenty of incredible realtors who would love for you to hire them.
There’s one out there who’s a good match for you, happy house hunting!
Keep up with Amanda here or if you are in her area and are looking for your next place be sure to let her know #GIRLVERIFY sent yah.