I’ve written dozens of posts for tips for home buyers on how to find their next home over the years but I’ve never done one where I expose all of the stupid things some home buyers do to find their house. And they are really dumb – potentially dangerous. However, if you don’t know, I guess you would assume these things are okay to do. However, it seems that these issues are on the rise lately so before it becomes much more of a trend, here are 3 Things NOT TO DO when searching for your next home.
DON’T HAVE MONEY OR A MORTGAGE PRE-APPROVAL FIRST
Look, I window shop for fun on the internet too and it’s fun to look at houses. A few years back, a study found that the average home buyer spend 5-9 months searching for a home online before ever seeing one in person. But what happens when you find that perfect house? Picking up your phone to call, text, or email the listing agent wouldn’t be the first step. The first step would be to obtain a mortgage pre-approval from a reputable lender. The process is quick and they will ask you questions like how much do you make, how much do you have in savings and for your SSN. This doesn’t commit you to working with this lender (shopping can save you thousands) however it does get the ball rolling just in case there is an issue that you’re not aware of on your credit report.
To be pro-active, gather the following:
- 2 most recent tax returns
- 2 most recent pay check stubs
- 2 most recent bank statements for all of your accounts (including retirement and investment).
This way, when you find that perfect property, you’re ready to proceed to look at it in person instead of hitting roadblocks to access by a real estate agent or the owner.
This was a common issue for me when I listed a bunch of distressed bank-owned properties 5-7 years ago. Buyers, mostly investors, assumed that a foreclosed home should be open 24/7 and would break in to show themselves the property. THAT’S A CRIME! Today, the latest trend involves buyers driving out to a property on the first day it’s listed for sale, peeping into the windows, and walking around the property. A for sale sign does not give license to trespass freely! Some properties are occupied, which can be problematic if a homeowner feels threatened.
It is common and perfectly acceptable to drive by a home that is newly listed for sale (that’s very common). However, don’t proceed further without your agent or having made an appointment.
DON’T GO WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
I get it – interacting with people is so 2008 but this is one instance when having someone knowledgeable on your side can be extremely beneficial. Invest some time in finding and hiring a Realtor to represent you – preferably only you. If you call the agent that’s listed on the sign in the front yard (the Listing Agent), they can help you in the purchase of the house but they represent the Seller first and foremost. It would be like calling the attorney of the person suing you and asking for help. Technically, that relationship extends to anyone in the firm however Dual Agency (where the same agent represents both Buyer and Seller) and Designated Agency (where Buyer and Seller are represented by agents within the same firm) are allowed in both North and South Carolina. However, in Dual Agency, once that agent represents both parties, they can’t provide any information or insight that could help one side over the other. It’s in essence like they represent no one at all.
Therefore, seek out your own agent before searching for your next home. Then, make your requests to see properties through your agent who can establish access, negotiate with you, etc.