Horror stories often abound when house hunting enters the conversation. Whatever you’ve heard, it’s natural to feel a little apprehensive when making what could be one of the biggest purchases in your life.
“Moving is one of the most stressful situations that a person can go through. It’s one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most stressful,” says Frank Schofield, an associate broker with Summit Realtors in Northern Virginia. So if you’re in the market for a house, follow these tips to drop the drama at the door during your search for a home.
Know What You Want
“The first step to avoid house hunting drama is to really sit back and think about what is most important to you,” advises Jason Mitchell, founder and president of Jason Mitchell Real Estate. What are your non-negotiables? Location? Educational opportunities? Price? Daily commute? “Once you have determined what is important to you and your family, then begin your home search.”
Stick To Criteria
Be sure to check that the communities in which you are conducting your search include homes that align with your values. “This will narrow down your scope so you are not looking at hundreds of homes, just the ones that fit in your criteria,” says Mitchell. If you do your research ahead of time, you can be more confident that what you want is available in the area that you want. “Looking in an area that’s not going to provide the home type that you want is going to cause frustration,” says Schofield.
The search for the right home can take long enough, let alone with extra interruptions. Avoid paperwork hiccups by submitting all of the necessary documents to make sure your loan is completely approved. “So if there is any issue, it is identified early on in the process and not the moment that you’re trying to submit a contract on the property,” says Schofield.
“Remember that you don’t make your monthly payment to the price of the home. Price is relative to the mortgage you are able to obtain,” says Mitchell. “So be sure to get your numbers locked down so you know what price range you are most comfortable with.”
Choose The Right Person
When choosing a real estate agent, do your research. “Meet with them to make sure you are a fit,” advises Mitchell. “Give them your expectations and make sure they have the ability to get the job done.
Hiring the right home inspector, like someone from the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), could also ensure a smoother home buying process.
“It’s all in the reports that they provide,” says Schofield. The ideal reports by inspectors include detailed explanations as well as photographs. Unfortunately, some reports that Schofield has received in the past consist of a two- to three-page checklist. “This can create frustration on the buyers and the sellers part because you don’t have clear enough documentation on what the problem is,” he added.
Communication Is Key
Communication is the antidote for any drama disease. “The more open the client is with the agent, the less drama is going to present itself in the transaction,” advises Schofield. “You have to trust your agent and relate to them as a confidant, as an ally.”
Be open about your biggest stressors and fears in the home buying process with your real estate agent. “If you are prone to anxiety and stress, don’t be embarrassed by that, but bring that to your agent,” he added. “We change our approach when we identify those personality types.”
Know Your Personality
Let’s face it. Most of us have at least one drama queen in our lives. And some of us might just be one. Be true to yourself, recommends Schofield. “If you know that you’re a drama-filled person, then embrace that.” A good real estate agent will have experience in working with all different kinds of people and family dynamics. “If that’s your personality type, make your agent aware,” says Schofield.
“Believe me, procrastination causes drama,” shares Schofield. If you have a deadline, he recommends beginning 4 to 6 months ahead of time to start educating yourself on the process. Do some research on your local housing market. For example, find out the average amount that is negotiated in your community. “Have the right expectations, or else you’re setting yourself up for frustration.” A little preparation will go a long way in helping your assumptions stay reasonably accurate.
Avoid Playing Professional
Self-described “moving expert” Ali Wenzke has moved 10 times in 11 years. She now shares her experience with all things moving-related on her blog, The Art of Happy Moving.
The first time Wenzke and her husband went searching for a home, they decided against working with a real estate agent. “As a law student, I thought this would be the perfect time to show off my newly acquired skills. I was wrong,” she shared.
“I took a standard real estate contract and marked it up as if my grade depended on it. The seller’s agent was not amused,” said Wenzke. “Shockingly, we did not get the house.” Luckily, she’s a fast learner. When she and her husband next made an offer on a home for sale by owner, instead of ambition, she brought muffins to the bargaining table.
“The negotiations occurred over home-baked muffins (ours) and coffee (the sellers’) and we came to a harmonious agreement within 15 minutes,” she recalled. “We gave the contract to a lawyer during the attorney review period and we lived happily ever after in our new home.”
See, happy endings do happen after all. Don’t let house hunting horror stories keep you from finding your perfect fit. Grab a cup of tea and settle in to start your home search this winter! “When you find the right home, you will know it,” shares Mitchell. “It may be the first home. It may be the eighth home. But when you see it, you will know it!”
Have you experienced house-hunting drama? Got a good story? Share with your fellow Zing Blog readers in the comments section below!
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