Every client is different. Every house is different. Every selling season is different. But you know what should never be different? The residential real estate beliefs, tactics and selling strategies you establish over time that lead to one closing after another.
Almost all homebuyers have established themselves professionally and/or financially. They’re usually educated and well-spoken. They likely are achievers in their fields. But you know what else they are? Students. Your students. Because they have chosen you to guide them through the obstacle course often required to purchase a home.
Whether they acknowledge it or not, they need you to be their Housebuying 101 professor. They likely have no idea about all the intricacies that exist beyond ‘See a house, make an offer, close and move in.’ So that’s where you will really earn your commission check.
As you talk to your clients, the more you hear, “Oh, that’s interesting…” and “I didn’t know that…” and “Let me write that down…” the more valuable you will be perceived, and the more likely they will keep you as their REALTOR® going forward, referring friends and family to you.
There are generalities and there are specifics regarding what needs to be explained before the house hunting even begins. We’ll start with some generalities, then move onto specifics.
Melissa Hoff, of The Hoff Group at Compass, implores those seeking to buy either immediately or in the very near future to have their finances buttoned up.
“When thinking of buying a home, make sure to start planning financially first,” she tells clients. “Try your best to save for a down payment, of course, and a budget in order to figure out what you will be comfortable spending for the mortgage and expenses. When you are ready to take the next step, your agent can set you up with a lender to get you pre-approved for a home loan so that you will be ready to make an offer once you find the perfect property.”
Hoff also tells clients to laser-focus on the home purchase, and to make adjustments if necessary when it comes to other spending habits.
“In order to make the search easier, make a list of what you must have and what would be nice to have,” she says. “Also, a very important thing to remember is to not make any large purchases or go on expensive trips while you are in the process of buying a new home, as that could affect the qualification process.”
In the same vein, Alexander Chingas, with the Bross Chingas Bross team at Coldwell Banker, in Westport, Connecticut, explains that an agent expanding the one-on-one working relationship with a client, like introducing them to a lender they work with, can add even more value for those wanting to buy.
“In addition to offering mortgage numbers and terms, a good lender will explain the many nuances of things such as how a generous family member can participate in funding a down payment, for example, because that is not as simple a process as some might think,” he says.
Specifics for hopeful homebuyers
Pam Rosser Thistle, a REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® in Philadelphia, provides her list of points made to every client before the house-hunting endeavor begins.
“I walk each client through the process so that they can travel the path to closing confidently,” she says, “making sure they understand each point and asking them if they have questions before moving to the next.” Here’s what she presents…
- You will likely be competing against cash offers. About 40% of offers are either cash or waive the mortgage contingency (which I don’t recommend).
- It will probably take two or three tries to get a property due to competition, so let’s add another 30 days onto the 60-day window of making an offer and closing.
- The closing costs are not just the down payment, but transfer tax, title insurance, the appraisal and tax plus homeowners insurance escrows.
- You can get more than one mortgage pre-approval as you are looking. Get to know who responds, the rates and whom you trust. You do not have to decide which lender you will use until you are under agreement.
- The team you put together (agent, lender, title company) will give you an edge in finding properties and give you a better chance of your deal being accepted. Listing agents/sellers want an A team that will get to the finish line.
- Sometimes your first offer is your only chance. Don’t assume you will get a counter. The seller may just sign the best offer presented, especially if there are many to choose from.
- When you get into summer or holiday months, you may start to see price reductions and wait for the price to go lower. Then, boom! The real estate season changes, prices strengthen and that home you’ve been waiting for is gone.
- Even if a property has been on the market a long time, it can just one day sell strong, or even have multiple offers. There are new buyers looking every day. Some move quickly.
- There is no formula for how long a property will be on the market, or how much it will sell for.
- Things like contingencies, closing date and financing can be as or more important than the price you offer.
- The longer you wait to buy a home, the more time you are missing out on appreciation, which is how you build wealth.