Beginning the search for a home for the first time is a thrilling experience, but it can become overwhelming as you do not want to make the wrong decision for such an important investment.
Knowing which properties to view – as well as how many to look at, is key to helping you narrow down your choices. But once you have selected your finalists, how do you know which property to put in an offer for and which to reject?
Russell Pearson, chief executive of RE/MAX Address, and Carlo Mariani, founder of The Property Coach, share their insights to help you make the right choice when buying your first home:
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Before you start
Before even venturing into serious buying mode, Mariani says you must know your credit score. Is it above 620? if not, what can you do to improve it quickly? And what is your range of affordability?
“Get pre-qualified and start the purchasing process like a pro. Sellers and agents will also be more willing to work with you.”
You need to be seriously ready to buy though, Pearson says.
“The bottom line is that a top agent will get down to the needs and wants of any buyer within their specific budget. However, if you are not motivated to buy right now, not even the most dedicated or experienced agent can assist, and this would be the time to part ways until such time as you are ready and able to buy.”
Deciding which properties to view
Once this groundwork is done, the first step in the house hunting process is to establish your needs and then correctly qualify them financially, he notes.
“It then becomes straightforward to narrow down choices to view.”
Mariani says you should look at properties that are 10% more and 10% less expensive than your target purchase price in order to get a better idea of how much difference there is between properties.
Is it possible to view too many or too few properties?
The answer in both instances, says Pearson, is yes.
“We get buyers who are just so undecided and just want to keep viewing, and then others, who can make up their minds very quickly. An experienced and quality agent can normally get things narrowed down quite quickly by asking many qualifying questions.”
The general rule though, says Mariani, is to rather see more properties than less, especially at the start of the buying process. He also advises that you “start ‘window-shopping’ as early as possible – at least three, but preferably six months, before you actually want to buy”.
Choosing the right home from your finalists
Pearson says a qualified agent will be able to advise you of all the benefits and/or disadvantages when comparing homes.
“So, a professional agent who has a great track record of sales in the area will be able to present you with comparative market values, not only on current homes for sale, but historical ones too.”
Making the offer
You should never pay more than market value, even if you love the place, Mariani says. This is because banks are unlikely to finance a property bought above market value. Once you have decided to make the offer, you need to be serious about it.
“And make it in writing. Keep its validity for no longer than 24 hours. Agents are always in contact with their sellers,” he says.
Dealing with a rejected offer
If you put in an offer for your dream home and it is rejected or the sale falls through, you should “keep with it and not give up hope”, Pearson adds.
“A good agent will keep in touch and find you the home of your dreams. Top agents also list the most properties in their area, and have built up a great referral system with their sellers.”
Mariani also points out that offers are rejected all the time.
“Breathe and do not counter-offer for at least three days, but preferably wait for seven days. Give the seller some time to reconsider or fear that the deal is gone for them too and then see them becoming a lot more negotiable.”
Should I put in an offer for my second choice or another of my options?
No, you should not, he explains: “Don’t compromise on what is often the biggest and most important investment of your life. Another property, in the right area, at the right price will be there for you, if you are prepared to be thorough and patient.”
However, if you need or want to buy urgently Pearson says you could consider putting in an offer on one of the other properties you like. Alternatively, they could wait for more properties to come onto the market.
Start your hunt for the right home here.