Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Now that you are armed with that crucial prequalification letter, you can begin the search for that perfect home. For most people this begins with an online search using consumer tools such as Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia. Educating yourself on areas, home prices, and visiting open houses and builders is the key to making informed decisions. As we tell all our sellers, the buyer making an offer on your home probably knows more about the market conditions in your neighborhood than you do. They typically have been looking for a home for the past 6-9 months. They have researched numerous neighborhoods, they have watched home sales, and when the are ready to make an offer they are confident on what they believe the price of the home should be.
The process of narrowing down your search may take a few weeks to a few months depending on your familiarity with the area. We've seen people certain that they wanted to live in downtown Dallas only to end up in the suburbs. We've also seen people moving across the country come into town on a weekend house-hunting trip and make an offer before they leave to go back home.
It really comes down to how prepared the buyer is and how much research they have done prior to the formal home search. In the case of the weekend buyer, they knew the area they wanted to live, they had a prequalification letter in hand, and they were very familiar with the market conditions. We had also worked with them in the past so we each knew each other well and the level of trust was high. Regardless, every situation is unique and requires special considerations and adaptation to ensure that the right purchase is made.
As you perform your research you should also be looking for a real estate agent to represent you. Ask for a referral from friends or relatives and interview a few agents before commiting to someone. Don't fall into the trap of hiring your friend who happens to sell a few house a year to supplement their income. Doing business with a friend can ruin a friendship if they do not perform to your expectation. Find a real estate professional that is willing to work for you the way you want to look for a new home. If you like to look at homes in the evening and weekends but your agent only works days and never on Sunday, they may not be a fit for you. Do you prefer texting but your agent only responds to email and phone calls? Does you agent only allow calls between 8-6 but you do most of your online search at night and need to be able to call them at 8PM? Is your agent located in the general area you are searching for a home so they can answer the specific questions you have about the area? Being an expert in Lower Greenville doesn't necessarily make them an expert in LIttle Elm.
Be willing to sign a Buyer / Tenant Representation Agreement. This document details the relationship between you, the Agent, and the Broker. It is the foundation of how you will be represented and it illustrates good faith between all parties. This document is very important for you to clearly understand the fiduciary duties of the Agent and the Broker that represent you. Be sure to have you agent walk through each paragraph with you so that you fully understand what the relationship is.
Once you have located the area, found the home you'd like to make an offer on, DON"T FALL IN LOVE WITH THE HOME YET! The fun is just beginning; next up the offer process.