If you are starting the process of looking for a home part of your search should include getting prequalified and pre-approved. This process will take a few phone calls perhaps a meeting or two with a few lenders and you gathering all of the required paperwork and submitting copies to your lender(s).
Once you are pre-approved (we recommend you get pre-approved because this will put you in a better bargaining position with the seller) your next step will likely be searching online and working with a real estate agent. No matter whether you are working with a real estate agent now or in the future here are a few suggestions we have to get the most out of your working relationship with one.
Some of these suggestions you can do on your own but we’ll leave you to the job of deciding which things you can and want to do on your own when the time comes to it.
Tips To Getting The Most From Your Real Estate Agent
- Drive Around
- Get The Neighborhood Numbers
- Is The Neighborhood Safe
- Ask Around – Parents and Police
Once you start getting your neighborhoods down you’ll want to drive around with your agent (or yourself) to see them at different times of the day and you’ll want to look for all the different entrances. Don’t let your agent get away with showing you only the nicest – front – grand entrance. Pay attention to the number of cars parked on the street. Does it matter to you or not? Are kids playing outside? Put yourself in the community and see if feels right for you. If not, don’t force a purchase and keep looking.
Along with checking out the inside of the neighborhood, make sure you check out what’s around it too. You’ll want to get a sense of how convenient or not you would be living relative to local amenities like shopping, restaurants, dry cleaners, schools, light rail and other forms of mass transit, freeways, and fire/police services (to name a few).
Ask your real estate agent for crime stats and Megan’s law offenders (if this matters to you). There are plenty of resources available to let you know how safe your neighborhood is. Ask some families you see walking around and ask the parents about the neighborhood. Be listening for whether they are really telling the truth because they might not want to say that there is trouble around – but if you listen carefully you’ll hear what you need to hear. A quick stop to the police station nearby can also put you in touch with local information about crime. You’ll also want to pay attention to trends – is it getting better or worse. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Speaking of trends ask your agent about different trends in the neighborhood – time on the market, what are home prices doing, the percentage of renters to home owners etc. Neighborhoods change and you’ll want to find out which way things are headed as you consider different places to live.
The bottom line of all this is that you need to thoroughly checkout where you are considering to live. Liking the house is only one factor that ought to go into your home buying decision. Make sure you kick the tires and look under the hood too. Don’t be afraid to ask your real estate agent for help on looking at all aspects of a neighborhood as you shop around.