Welcome to my first blog as the Buyer Specialist for the AroundCU Team. I am truly fortunate to be working with Mariya, Susan, Kirby and Ruth, and I’m so glad you are here today too! As I sit at my keyboard looking out the window on Valentine’s Day, I am reminded that much to my dismay…it is still winter. The snow is blowing across the prairie, and coming down fairly heavily. Although with any luck it won’t stick and make everything messy outside this week.
With thoughts of spring on my mind, it makes me think of the upcoming spring season for real estate and how the AroundCU team can help you with your home buying/selling needs. In our area, the market is strong; we have buyers looking to purchase and sellers who want to sell their current homes, which adds up to a great upcoming spring season. And now is a great time to get started!
As a home buyer you will find there are some standard basics to house-hunting beginning with, and I can’t stress this enough, visiting with a lender to get pre-approved for your mortgage loan. Getting pre-approved will open so many doors for you in your home search. Most importantly, it will make you a better buyer in a seller’s eyes because the seller will know you can afford to purchase their house. When you write an offer, your pre-approval letter will be sent to the listing agent along with your offer so the seller sees that you are able to purchase the home you are placing an offer on. If you plan on paying cash, you can get a “proof of funds” letter from your bank, saying that you have at least the amount of the house’s list price at your disposal.
There are a number of great local lenders right here in Champaign County, some smaller very local banks, some regional, and even some larger banks with a national presence. As part of our service, we make it a point to be in touch with these lenders on a regular basis, so we stay aware of interest rates, special loan programs, and grants available. Still, the best person to give you that information is your lender. Don’t worry if you don’t know who to go to; we work with so many great lenders and can help you by making a recommendation of who can best help you.
Once you are ready to buy, it’s time to meet with me, your “Buyer Specialist”. A buyer specialist (or buyer’s agent or buyer’s representative), like me, is a real estate agent who specializes in representing buyers rather than listing and selling homes. Sometimes a buyer’s agent is also occasionally referred to as a “selling agent,” although to confuse things further, listing agents are also known as selling agents in certain circumstances.
As your buyer’s specialist, I will meet with you prior to going out to look at homes to get a feel for the types of homes you are interested in. This is called the Buyer Consultation and typically lasts about an hour to an hour and a half. At this time, not only will I learn more about the types of homes and neighborhoods you are interested in, you will learn more about me and we will form a relationship to work together. Don’t be surprised when I have you fill out a brief questionnaire or take notes while speaking with you; it’s important for me to get to know you in order to help you find your new home! I am familiar with most of the properties currently listed for sale in the area and can make suggestions based on your needs/wants in a home. Once we feel comfortable with each other, there is a standard Buyer-Agent agreement form, which we will sign. This says you are comfortable with working with me to help you look for houses and I commit to working with and for you. It’s a win/win agreement that protects us both.
You’re probably thinking, “Where is she going with this and what’s the correlation between house-hunting and Valentine’s Day?” You guessed it…house-hunting for many buyers comes down to “love at first sight”! Many times, this happens upon entering the very first house; you walk through the front door and love the refinished hardwood floors; you see the high ceilings and swoon; your heart pounds at the chef’s kitchen and the huge yard, and you begin to picture yourself cuddling up by the fireplace or building holiday traditions with your family. However, there’s nothing more painful, emotionally and financially, than falling in “lust” with a place you may find really isn’t the house for you. And this, dear buyer, is where I come in with that list of needs and wants you shared with me during our buyer consultation!
Now it’s time we take off those rose-colored glasses and make a second or third visit to the property to carefully look it over from top to bottom, to the best of our ability, for any defects or problems we may have missed on our first visit. In addition, I encourage all my clients to drive through the neighborhood at different times during the day to get a “feel” for the neighborhood. For example, do the owners of the houses surrounding your dream home take good care of their homes? Are the lawns and gardens in good shape? Does that barking dog ever stop?! Every neighborhood is different and its nuisances affect different people in different ways. Make sure you love the neighborhood as much as you love the house!
Once you have decided on the house that will become your next home, the next step is putting in an offer on the property, which we will talk more about in a future blog. Have a great week!
Beth Culkeen, Buyer Specialist, AroundCU Team