Three Questions Every Buyer Has And Never Asks

Dated: 10/05/2016

Views: 147

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Buying your first home is like riding a roller coaster - exciting, scary, and at some point things will go upside-down and you'll feel sick.

You're going to hear a lot of terms - disclosure, contingency, stipulation - that you're not used to hearing. Buying a home is a big point in your life, and like anything, everyone has their own take on how you need to do it. At times, it'll feel like the whole process is bigger than you can handle. You're also going have questions.

Lots of them.

Let me be the first to say, you agent wants you to ask them - even the ones you think are silly. The truth is, no one starts the process by googling "How do I buy a house?" We take advice from family and friends, and we pick up half-truths from HGTV, and we run with it. You're naturally going to ask about the things you know to ask about - How are the schools in this area? What can I expect to get for my money? How long will it take to find a home?

Your agent will have plenty of questions for you - about your financial and credit situation, your plans for the future, your timelines and deadlines. A good agent will may bring up some topics you didn't think were relevant, but may have a bigger impact on what you do and when you do it than you had counted on. I encourage you, don't shy away from those.

Most of the questions will focus on your wants and needs, and the basic process of buying a home. What that doesn't quell is the broader concerns - are you making the right choice? It's a tough question to answer that's extremely personal, but we thought we'd take a crack at it anyway. Here are the three questions every first-time buyer has, but few ask:

How do I know when it's the right one?

Often times, you won't.

Most people are trying too hard to suppress the emotional side of the decision, and look at the home from a purely rational standpoint. While I'm certainly not advocating being reckless with a major financial decision, I will say that you need some emotion in it. There has to be a balance. Remember, this will be your home - a place you'll make a lot of memories. There are plenty of houses out that that might make be a sound financial decision that hit on your wants and needs, but you absolutely hate.

The hard truth is, most people miss out the "right" house a couple times before they find it. They spend too much time getting wrapped up in what they think they're supposed to do, decided to sleep on it, and miss it. Around Nashville, homes just don't stay on the market long enough to keep looking and circle back around. Don't wait for the "right" house to speak to you. If it does, that's means it's haunted and you need to run.

The "right" house is going to have most (not all) of your wants and needs, some unexpected charm, and a (hopefully) short list of dislikes and to-do's. Most importantly, the "right" house is the ones you get the keys to.

How many houses should I look at before I make an offer?

There isn't a number. Some people will look at thirty houses before they ever feel comfortable, some will go after their first one. It's entirely personal. Unfortunately, Nashville is moving fast enough that if you have to think about it, it's not the one because it's already gone.

That's okay. People tend to start out with a very clear idea of what they want, and by the time they've started looking, that changes. Stainless appliances might be a must initially, but you'll find yourself scrutinizing the outlet placement in the master so you don't need an extension cord just to plug up your phone at night. You'll start to realize the little things you didn't think mattered mean a lot, and the stuff you had to have is more like "Eh, it'd be nice to have."

Every time you see a house, you (or your agent) should ask three questions: 

1.) Do you like this house?

2.) Do you like this house more or less than the last one?

3.) At what price would you buy this house?

Notice how none of those questions bring up your needs and wants? Or whether or not it's a sound financial investment? All that actually matters is whether or not you like the house, and if there's a price you're comfortable buying it at. If you like the house, and you've identified a price you'd buy it at that's anywhere near the asking price, then you should make an offer on it. It's a simple concept, but it's a hard one to swallow in the moment.

What could go wrong?

Well... a lot, but don't panic.

One of the first things your agent will do is set you up with a lender they know and trust to get you pre-approved. Keep in mind, you are absolutely free to choose your own lender, and you should never feel like you're forced to use someone. However, agents will recommend a lender because they have a history of success. If something is going to fall apart, more often than not it's going to be in the loan process. Since your agent is your go between with everyone involved, they like lenders and vendors that are quick, effective, and cause as little stress as possible. This translates to few bumps for you to brace for.

On your end, avoid any big changes in income or spending. If you know you're going to change jobs, or need a new car, talk to your lender. Even something seemingly harmless like applying for a credit card to save $20 on groceries can be a red flag. Mortgage companies value stability and predictability, and change is a monkey wrench you don't need. 

Once you get to the contract stage - you found the house, put in an offer, and it was accepted - we have a new set of hurdles. Deadlines will need to be met, inspections might turn up unexpected problems that affect the offer, and the appraisal threatens to wreck everything. This is where your agent shines. As your advocate, they'll help you negotiate and meet all that needs to be done. The biggest thing they need from you is constant, honest communication. If there is something happening - even if you don't think it's related - let them know early.

A good agent spends a lot of time wrangling everyone in and making sure the process goes smoothly - or at least as smooth as possible. The more they know, the easier that is.

Have a question we missed? Let us know and we'll do another post on this topic.

Or drop us a line at or 615-383-3142 for advice or a free consultation.

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