Basics home buyers need to know before they start

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When meeting with your potential Realtor before you go on your first showing when buying a home… Wait let me back it up a step. If you are buying a home, I highly recommend having a meeting first.  I suggest meeting with your agent at their office. This is something I now require of most of my buyers. This is most likely the largest purchase you will ever make in your life. It deserves thirty minutes to an hour of your time before you start. Even if you have bought a home in the past five years, this meeting is still important. A lot has changed in the world of real estate lately, the paperwork and financial disclosures are different, along with the market conditions. Also, you need to interview the agent!

So now, where were we. Ah, yes, what you should know after your meeting with your Realtor. This list is tailored to South Carolina where I am a Realtor and may contain a few items that are not relevant to other states. However, much of the content should be the same across the country. So let’s see what you should come away with after that first meeting.

  1. Your agent should, at the very least, do a quick overview of the agreement you need to sign with them and the current contract for sale that you will be using. In Greenville, SC these have both gotten more complicated recently. There has been a lot of “legalese” added and they are longer and more complicated. You want to be familiar with what you are signing when it comes time to make an offer. If you are in situation where a quick offer is a necessity, you don’t want to be learning all the possible contingency options while someone is getting their offer in before you. You definitely don’t want to be surprised after the offer has been accepted. You should receive a copy of all the documents you will need to sign so you can read through them again on your own time.
  2. Current market conditions not just for the general area you are in, but for the specific neighborhoods you are interested in. A few miles can make a big difference in how much competition you will be facing. Do you have a specific neighborhood that you want to be in? Chances are you are not the only one. Do houses on your side of town go under contract in 24 – 48 hours for list price or do they typically stay on the market for 2 – 3 months and have some room to negotiate. When your Realtor puts your criteria into the system, do you have 20 choices or 2? You need to embrace the reality of your situation and be prepared for what you will face.
  3. Now that you know what you’re up against, you can form a game plan. What is your preferred way to communicate? I have clients who almost exclusively text me. Some can’t stand to text. Some are not able to text or talk during the work day but can email at any time. How urgent is your move? Do you need to be able to run out and look at a home on your lunch break, do you need to plan on seeing at least one home a night until you find something, or are you in a position to wait and line up 3 showings on the weekend?
  4. It’s usually Win – Win or Lose – Lose and nothing in between. I have had people request the same thing in different ways from me. Sometimes they want a “bulldog” or maybe a “shark” when it comes to negotiations. From my personal experience, this rarely turns out well. If a seller feels like you are trying to take advantage of them or extract every last painful penny you can, it normally doesn’t turn out well. You may win that first battle of getting the home a little cheaper but you normally lose in the long run whether it be during repair negotiations, final walk through, or some other way that they figure out they can “get you back”. In the end, you have to remember that they have a home they want to sell and you want to buy. If you are firm but understanding in your negotiations, there is normally a way to make things work out well for everyone. I have seen offers that were not as high as others be chosen because of the reputation of the Realtor who is representing the buyers.
  5. What is the process after you have a home under contract? Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that finding the home (even in our current crazy market) is the easy part of my job. Will you need recommendations on home inspectors, pest inspections, a closing attorney? Your agent should have a list of vendors to handle anything you will need. Are you in a market where sellers are offering to do cosmetic repairs or are homes being sold as – is outside of major problems? How long is your inspection period, when will the appraisal happen, when will the title search be done, and when will I know for sure that the sale will go through? You also need a thorough understanding on earnest money, when does it leave your account, who holds it, what situations warrant you getting your money back if the deal falls through, when will you forfeit it? What cost will there be if the deal doesn’t go through even if you get your earnest money back?
  6. Most importantly you need to know that you are working with a Realtor that you trust to protect you and get the job done. There are so many variables when buying a home that it would be impossible to put them all in one blog post. Make sure you are comfortable that you have the best representation. This does not always come down to how many years they have been doing business or how many transactions they have closed. Sometimes the Realtor who has been in business for 18 months and closed 12 transactions has the passion and fire that another agent who has been in business 15 years and closed 12 transactions last month has lost. Whoever you choose to be on your side, that choice could turn out to be the most important one you make in the whole process.

Happy house hunting!

-Brad Buczkowski                                                                                                                                                      facebook                                                                                                                                                twitter 

 

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Why a hot market is the time to move up a level.

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The real estate market is hot in Greenville, SC and in many cities across the country. Inventory is low and in the lower price ranges the competition is tough. We don’t have enough homes for the amount of buyers that are looking to buy a home. Now Realtors are talking to people who are thinking about selling their home and hearing this: “I’m afraid if I sell my home that I won’t be able to find something else to buy”. So who is primed to take advantage of this hot market? If you are looking to “move up a level” in the real estate world, this could be the perfect time.  So let’s take a quick look at the levels in Greenville and see which category you fall into.

These are not exact ranges. They are not predicated on scientific numbers. They are what I am seeing from my buyers and sellers, they are a very simplistic way of breaking down the different markets, and are meant to give you an idea of where you are and where you can “move up” to. Obviously, some areas around Greenville, such as the North Main area and Augusta Rd, are always going to be outliers and are a market unto themselves. The average home price around Greenville, SC in February of 2016 was just below $195,000. What many would consider entry-level homes would fall in a price range of $0 – $150,000. The inventory on this level is low. Buyers are having a tough time finding a home and if a seller prepares to list their home properly, with the right price, homes are selling quickly. The price range for level number 2 will be $150,000 – $225,000. The market for this range is very similar to level 1. Level 3 would be $225,000 – $300,000. This is where the market begins to shift. A home listed in the lower half of the range is moving very quickly and things begin to slow as you near the upper end of this price range. Level 4 would be $300,000 – $400,000. Houses on this level are selling but we are starting to get into a price range where we are pricing out the average buyers in our area. When there is less demand, a home may stay on the market longer before it sells. They are still selling faster than a few years ago and even last year but we are not seeing as many house immediately go under contract the same way we are in the first few levels. A seller in this price range needs to be sure they are doing everything correctly in the pre-listing phase to present their home on a level that the buyers are expecting. For the sake of brevity and to stick with the main theme, I will put level 5 as being $400,000 and up. This is where we start to see even longer days on market because of lack of demand. There simply aren’t as many buyers in this price range. Homes are still selling but not often in the first few weeks on the market. If a seller does not properly prepare in the pre-listing phase, they run the risk of the home staying on the market too long and becoming stale as prospective buyers begin to wonder what is wrong with it since it hasn’t sold yet in a hot market.

So what does all this mean? There are opportunities in moving from almost every level to the next. Moving from level 1 to level 2 can still be a little tricky. When using the right Realtor, you will get the most money for your home but inventory is still low in level 2 and you must have a great Realtor to help you find the right home, prepare you before hand for making the right offer, and know how to win in a multiple offer situation. Moving from level 2 to level 3 can be a little easier. This is where I see a great opportunity right now. You will be getting top dollar for your home and, especially if you are moving to the higher end of level 3, you will have more choices with a little less competition. Moving from level 3 to level 4 is also a good opportunity right now. Houses are still moving on level 3 and are going for a good price. On level 4, houses tend to stay on the market a little longer and you won’t necessarily have to move as fast as the lower levels. Multiple offer situations are fewer in this price range and gives you more leverage in negotiations.

So who’s ready to move up a level!

 

Brad Buczkowski

Email: bradbucz@gmail.com

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