“WHAT?!” is the response you might be expecting your agent to holler back through the phone? I hope not! A great agent will work with you . . .no matter your price range and try to have all the pieces of the transaction come together with the most ideal result: a home you love, at a price and terms you are comfortable with.
I have worked in the past with folks who simply didn’t have an ideal handle on the local market in the Eastern, NC region. Real estate market reports are like local weather forecasts; snow in Boston does not mean snow in Tampa. I had a gentleman drive down from Northern Virginia, overnight, for a weekend house hunting trip. For weeks, we had been in communication via phone and email, I had been sending him listings in the price range and with features he and his family were interested in but upon arrival he was convinced last summer that he would be able to write a contract for approximately 20k below the list price of any and everything we looked at, regardless of how many recent sales I was showing him for the neighborhoods in question.
I tactfully tried to explain that an offer that low would certainly not secure any of his ideal homes as they were fairly priced and would likely appraise for the price the sellers were looking for and there was fair competition for homes in the price range, with similar homes lasting an average of 45 days on the market at that time. Essentially, the “offer” he wanted to make on these homes wouldn’t be worth the paper it would be written on, it wouldn’t stand up to the competition. I am required to write up any contract my clients want, essentially, since I “represent” you, there are guidelines and whatnot I MUST follow and laws I must abide by . . . but at the same time, it is my job to fully understand your goals; both the immediate and simplistic: buy or sell a home as well as the more detailed: for pure investment, for a lifelong home, for profit later (such as a repossessed home or a “flip” project). . .so I know what we are looking for and HOW to help YOU GET IT. After two failed contracts, written to his specifications despite my polite but firm protest, he called off his search abruptly and decided to live on base and not to buy. I asked, to improve my own services, what could I have done differently to help him achieve his goal, as well as my own,=of him purchasing a home, from me. He said “I came here expecting the market I knew 10 years ago, this town has grown tremendously but I never expected the home prices to swell this much. . . and I felt you were looking for a bigger paycheck by trying to justify a higher offered price for these properties.” Quite simply, he wasn’t listening to my advice, he wasn’t believing the emails and print out of recently sold properties, and worse, was operating under the impression that I was only seeing him as a walking paycheck for myself. Sadly, the misunderstanding led to his lack of confidence in the market, and myself. He was without a home to call his own and I was out a client.
Occasionally it is unavoidable but regardless of whom you are working with, speak up if the agent continues to show you things beyond your price range (a few thousand is reasonable if it is plausible that your offer and the accepted price is within your comfort zone), in parts of town you have no desire to live in, etc. An agent’s job is to do your bidding. . .and to navigate the hoops and, at the end of the day, get the deal done, which, in my world, means making you happy. . .within reason of course, by providing you with pertinent information to help you make the most prudent offer possible while still securing your ideal home.
The old expression “If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”. . .speak up when your search or the process is taking a wrong turn, keep the air clear and be honest with your needs and your limits. . .your agent will be appreciative of the guidance.
A good real estate professional will help prepare you before your visit to the area if you are moving from out of town or state (or, frequently in military circumstances, the country) by helping you first prequality then preapprove for a loan so you know precisely your price range and what mortgage payment you would be most comfortable being responsible for.
A great note here, especially with predatory lending being on the news daily, you can “shop” for both a mortgage or a car loan . . .a great credit score is important, and many know that each time your score is “pulled” or there is an “inquiry” it can hurt your score. . .the more frequent the inquiry, the more damage done. . .but not so with your two largest purchases! Shopping for a mortgage, within a 30 day window, is considered one “hit”. . . , so, be honest with prospective lenders, let them know to give you their best offer so you can compare oranges to oranges.
The real estate market isn’t scary, no matter what you see on the news everyday. . .a great agent helping you navigate the rough patches and taking you from start to finish and a fair loan. . .you can become a homeowner. . .and know, that your average agent isn’t after a “higher” paycheck. . .at the end of the day, if you don’t find the home and “deal” that works for you, we don’t get paid a penny, with hours, days, weeks or months worth of work down the drain. . .so, keep us in the loop, know that you are in the drivers seat to make it happen and have realistic goals. . .because, at the end of the day, your ideal “deal” is also ours.