One of the best things about my job is showing homes. I have the pleasure of escorting clients as we tour homes in search for the one that meets their criteria. I’m always amazed at how the interior of a home is another world, hidden from view, and full of surprises. Some are in better shape than others, but everyone is looking for something different, so even a fixer-upper in dire straights can be the One for the right buyer.
I recently showed a new listing in a neighboring town to a couple I’ve been working with for a couple of months. They have specific criteria, and are serious buyers, and this home hit all the right notes for them. I was so happy to have finally found the One for them! They loved it. Then, on the drive back home, I got a call from the listing Agent, asking how my showing went, and letting me know that if they were interested, he also had another offer coming in, in case we wanted to also make an offer to be considered by the seller at the same time. I relayed this information to my Clients, but when it came down to it they weren’t really ready to jump on the opportunity, and lost out to the other buyer.
The Moral of the Story?
I was disappointed in myself for not helping my Client be more prepared. We had discussed things like pre-approval letters, but I hadn’t followed up to be sure they really were ready to rock and roll when the right opportunity presented itself. In the current market of low inventory, when you spot the property you want to buy, you need to be in a position to move quickly! This means that you need to do some prep work before hand to prepare.
One of the most important first steps is to have that conversation with your banker. Find out what your do-able price range will be, get pre-approved, and get a letter from the bank that certifies that pre-approval status and can be included with any offers you may wish to make. Without that letter, your offer may not be seriously considered. Some banks prefer to issue the letters for specific properties, but a general letter is nice to have on hand, especially if you are house hunting on a weekend and need to be nimble with your offers. If you will be paying cash for a purchase, you will need a letter certifying that you have the funds to do so.
Before you head out to look, consider the possibility that you may find that great property that day, and decide what you are willing to do about it. Are you prepared to sign your name on an offer? Have you had those serious talks with your spouse? Have you discussed which locations you would be willing to live in, or what features are deal-breakers or deal-makers? Are you ready, in your own heart, to sign that check or that mortgage?
In other words, are you mentally and emotionally prepared to jump into the real estate game of offers and counter offers? You won’t be alone, your Realtor will be there to interpret, to guide the negotiations, to stay on top of things — but you need to be ready, willing, and able to make a viable offer, or you may lose out on the property you want to call home.
Take your time and prepare yourself before you venture out into the heady world of house-hunting, get that letter from the bank, know how much you are able to spend, and be sure about what you want to do if and when you find the house you want to commit to. If you are faced with a quick decision, and need to be able to pull together a fast offer, you will not be working in a panic, you won’t be making any spur of the moment choices, you’ll just be taking the next step in a well-planned process that will culminate with you living in that wonderful new place you’ll call home.