You know when the time is right, to purchase a place to call HOME. You have your reasons and your preferences but it’s important to be prepared.
Here are 15 tips from our Brokers to help you along the way:
1. First-time Home Buyers are usually renters that think it’s not possible to buy a home so they rent, then move and rent again. It can take 6 months to a year but it can be done. There are ways to get your credit score up, special programs that do away with the the old “I need to save 20% down to buy a house” rule. There are also special incentives from MFA & VA that can get you in a home for $500! >> ask us how
2. Know who you are working with: “A real estate professional” or “real estate brokers” are person(s) licensed to practice real estate by the Real Estate Commission, managed by the regulation an licensing department of the State of NM. There are qualifying brokers that manage the associate brokers. A REALTOR ® is all that and more, they are licensees that choose to become members of a local, state and national association of like minded professionals that abide by a higher ethical standard. Lastly, agents are assigned under special contractual agreements (not general practice in New Mexico unless they work as property managers.)
3. Home tours should be more than a walk-through. Checking out an open house is great but it deserves another look around. If possible never purchase a house site unseen. If you can’t be there, send a friend or colleague to take a tour or have your realtor take you on a digital tour with their phone. If possible your realtor should take you through the house one more time as you consider the offer you will make. It’s also a good idea to get a home inspection and a home warranty.
4. Most home buyers start their home search online. These mass sites gather information, compile lists and advertise properties “For Sale” to capture your information by offering you small favors, access or information. This gives them opportunity to sell, yes sell your information to the “REAL” real estate professionals who are licensed to list and sell property for others. So PLEASE be weary of “signing up” or “creating an account” on a whim. Know who you are dealing with; ask questions and choose who you decide to work with for the right reasons. A REALTOR will have direct access to the local MLS database ie: the original listing(s) source. They should also have access to showing instructions and agent notes that are not public. We do!
5. Yard signs are public notices that make the home owners intentions clear. There is a common misconception that you as a home buyer need to call the number on each sign to take a tour of the home but that’s not the case here in New Mexico. All customers and clients are consumers, and all real estate licensees in our state work as transactions brokers. Not agents as a common rule. That means we can list, show and sell any property listed for sale in the State of New Mexico (including FSBO when permitted by the home owners)
6. As brokers we earn commissions by offering services that bring transactions full circle and are not paid until closing. We are here to assist, inform and protect our customers whenever possible; throughout the home buying process. We are not here to make decisions or lead buyers astray. There should be no requirements only requests. Decisions should be kept between the buyers and sellers. If there is a problem, your go to person is the company or brokerages managing qualifying broker.
7. Many buyers don’t understand why it’s important to get “PRE-APPROVED” before you start your home search. Here are the most common reasons: The fist approval letter will be conditional upon you as the buyer, providing the documentation requested from the lender. There is a preliminary credit check and questionnaire that will provide a starting point for your home search. It gives you an idea of loan options and how much you can spend on your new home. You should also ask for an estimated closing costs worksheet, how much it will cost you to get your loan (fees, appraisal and down payment, etc.) as well as what your monthly payment will be. So you can look at homes in your price point and feel confident with your home buying decision. This letter can also be used as a statement of sincerity or a buffer if there are several offers on the table when you submit your offer.
8. As a realtor, I believe that anyone who wants to own their own home should have that opportunity. I believe in it so much that I have build my career on it. Lets be honest… Showing you homes that you might not be able to afford or having someone take liberties with my time while working with someone else or someone who is waiting on someday… doesn’t pay the bills. This process is built on loyalty, mutual respect of time, services, honesty and reasonable care. The path to home ownership is not smooth and easy going, that’s why it’s so important to work with a professional. Especially for buyers; which is often FREE when the sellers offer the brokerage compensation(s) as part of the listing agreement.
9. Be cautious of things like “you need to work with our” or “you can only” or “It’s required” who you work with is your choice. As real estate professionals, we can recommend service providers in our area. We have our preferences. Vendors we have worked with in the past; who we know and trust. You still have options and choices regarding who you work with, what services they offer and how much you will pay for their services. For example: If a lender insists that you work with one of their real estate brokers; be curious. In most cases there are referrals or commission splits that may seem on the up and up, but it may not be. Ask questions and get the answers you want or look elsewhere. The key is to be firm and let anyone who puts you in this situation know; who you are working with and that you are not interested in letting anyone make choices for you. If you ask for recommendations try to get 3 or more. Most brokers keep ready made lists.
10. Take note of what you like in a home and why. Look at the way you live. Do the kids drop their shoes and backpacks in the doorway when they get home from school? Do you like to cook and need a pantry, do you have collections to display or boxes of old junk you can’t seem to part with but need to hide away. Ask yourself why you are moving and where you want to go. Then keep it all together in a file on your phone or a binder you can keep on a shelf. When you look at a house think of it as your home… look around and rank them 1-2-3 as you go. Especially if the market is hot and you don’t have days to decide. Refine your home search from the get go. If you look at to many homes they start to blend. You will want the backyard from house B mixed with house C and the pantry in house A. The problem is just looking to look won’t do you any favors. While it can be fun, this is important. It will change your life, how you live and where you go from here. It’s important to be honest with yourself, your partner, your realtor, your lender, etc. Don’t make a decision because someone else wants it or thinks you should or because it’s a top 10 trends for the season.
11. Video surveillance and security systems are turning up more than ever. It’s important to be mindful of what you say. You may not notice the cameras or recorders, so comments and questions should not be mentioned while on the property. Imagine: talking about what you can pay, coupled with what you will be offering. Then a magic counter offer comes back with the exact amount you can pay because the seller was listening.
12. Tour groups in vacant houses are not much of an issue but when it comes to occupied homes we ask that everyone stay together. It can be trying at times. Like trying to see how many people you can pack into a phone booth but it is necessary. Especially if there is only one realtor in the room.
13. The Real Estate Commission requires all brokers to disclose broker duties to anyone who could potentially become a client. It is also the first 2 pages preceding any NMAR contract. Not to be confused with a buyer/broker agreement. Which is a binding contract to work with that one broker exclusively throughout your home buying process. If you sign a buyer/broker intentionally that’s great, it can clear some of the confusion. However, if a broker asks you to sign such an agreement before they will send you information or show you a house think twice. If it’s “for your protection and theirs” make sure it’s the broker duties document and not a Buyer/Broker or Agency addendum. This is why I cannot stress this enough that you READ before you agree and/or sign and GET A COPY of every page. Even if that means taking pictures with your phone.
14. Contracts are vetted by NMAR our state level realtors association. The committee meets monthly with our real estate lawyer to update our contracts. I have faith that the contracts I use are the most up to date forms on the planet. This also means that new sections are added and old sections are edited regularly and keeping up is not an easy task. There is nothing worse than finding a new section with clients on the other side of the table. Be patient with us during signings, It’s not a easy to read upside down. The contracts are standard across the state but we continue to encourage our customers and clients to read all forms and contracts front to back before you sign them.
15. Safety is always top of mind with us so please don’t be offended if we ask to meet you in a public place the first time around, so we have a chance to get acquainted. Don’t take offence if we ask you to make an appointment for home tour or ask you for your contact information. An please don’t “Walk around the house and peek in the windows.” Just because it’s listed for sale does not negate trespassing laws. Take a look at the video below to get a better idea of how we look out for our clients and each other.