Before You Buy, Define Success or You'll Waste Your Time

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 01 October 2013 13:52

Buying a home is arguably one of the most significant financial decisions that a person makes. As many found out over the last several years, success is not guaranteed and financial calamity can result. While not every variable can be addressed, many of the fundamental ones can and if properly done, trouble down the road may be avoidable. Owning real estate has inherent risks, it also has many rewards and those that take a methodical, systematic approach to home buying tend to be the most successful. This is a list of things that we believe every home buyer in Atlanta should have a firm grasp on. By that we mean have in hand, have answers to, have considered and be prepared to act upon. It's in no order and it's far from all inclusive. It's compiled after almost twenty five years of working in real estate; seeing how successful people operate and seeing  things that common in failure. Of course there are cases where folks did everything "right" and still failed; the criminal activity of lenders and Wall Street that embodied the real estate collapse did not discriminate.

The steps to success for home buyers:
  • Define success. If  the home buyer doesn't know what they want, how can the agent? A buyer should be able to describe the broad characteristics of the home, where it is, how much it costs and critical must haves/must not haves. The home buyer must be prepared to tell the agent what they want - in detail.
  • Be mortgage smart. Speak with more than one type of lender; bank, broker, credit union...each is likely to have slightly different options. Communication and accessibility are vital; the buyer, agent, closing attorney....will need be in constant contact throughout the process. We always suggest avoiding the "too big to fail" organizations - bloated fees and packages, poor to zero communication when needed, impersonal service, delayed closings and banker's hours tend to impede success. Learn what you can afford and be certain to buy with your head, not over it.
  • Have contingency plans in place. Home buyers should be prepared should the search fail to produce tangible results. Discuss ahead of time modifying the  characteristics, area, price as or if needed. Consider the current abode - if it's a rental when is the lease up, what does it cost to break the lease early if needed? If it's a home being sold, what happens if the existing home sells prior to finding another - or after - or long after?
  • Properly select a real estate agent. Arguably the single most important part of the process, few home buyers know how to properly select a real estate agent. The performance bar for real estate agents is virtually non existent; failure to properly understand that has hurt many home buyers. Experience and production are critical; an agent should be earning a living and be able to easily answer these 7 questions.
  • Set reasonable expectations. What "used to be" is immaterial, this market is extremely fluid and "the house" may pop up at any time - including right after the search begins. It may not take weeks but days, or it may not happen at all. It is highly unlikely that deep discounts will be found in this market. Short sales are no longer a bargain, most that don't end in flames and wasted time settle at retail. Foreclosure inventory is down and list prices are up - often above where they should be. Rates are increasing and will continue to do so.
In our experience, home buyers that take the time to address these five steps before actively home shopping tend to be the most successful. While all are critical, it's hard to argue against selecting a real estate agent as the most important. Considering that the agent is involved in every aspect of the process (finding the home, researching the data, writing and negotiating the contract, providing guidance during appraisal-inspection-due diligence...) proper selection cannot be stressed enough. Buying a home can still be an enjoyable and exciting process. Times have changed to be sure, but by being proactive and full engaged, many obstacles can be avoided and those that will come along be better managed. HMT has been appraising and selling Atlanta real estate since 1994; we know the area, know the inventory and know the data.
Hank Miller,SRA
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
Atlanta Communities Real Estate
678-428-8276 direct
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Hank Miller, SRA

Hank Miller is an Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser in the north metro Atlanta area. Since 1989, real estate has been his full time profession. Hank´s clients benefit from his appraisal and sales experience; they act upon data, not baseless opinions. He is an outspoken critic of the lax standards in the agent community.

Hank remains an active certified appraiser and completes specialty work for FNMA, lenders and attorneys. He is a well-known blogger and continues to guest write for multiple industry publications as well as national outlets like the WSJ, NYT, RE Magazine, USA Today and others. He is a regular on public Q&A sites on Zillow, Trulia and many others.

Hank consistently ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the metro Atlanta area. He runs the Hank Miller Team and is known as much for his ability as he is for his opinions. He is especially outspoken about the lack of professional standards and expectations in the real estate industry.

Agent Resource

Limited time offer - 50% off - click here

Realty Times

From buying and selling advice for consumers to money-making tips for Agents, our content, updated daily, has made Realty Times® a must-read, and see, for anyone involved in Real Estate.