Real estate. Part of the American Dream is home ownership. However, the process of acquiring that piece of the American Dream can plunge one with anxiety deep into the covers of the bed-not wanting to come out till spring. Or at least till market prices decline. But I am here to tell you, you can go through the process of buying a home, without setting off your Anxiety Medical Alert bracelet (Sidenote: wouldn’t it be great if they made those?).
The very first piece of advice I’d give to someone in the beginning stages of home shopping would be to make sure you have a reputable real estate agent. Not only should they be licensed, they need to have the skills necessary to show you appropriate places. I offer my story:
Years before my husband and I were married, right before we were in the same town, we went home shopping. A friend of my now husband did real estate on the side, and we thought it was a good idea to have him show us one house that was available. Let me tell you about this house. It was h-uge (when the word huge is pronounced with two syllables it’s a big deal). Two stories with ten–yes that’s right–ten rooms, spacious living quarters, stained glass windows and, wait for it, a freakin‘ FIREPLACE! Yes, it was just the two of us, but our real estate agent explained to us that we could rent out the upstairs. I had visions of wonderfully warm Sunday dinners around the fire, laughing and inviting our friends over for popcorn and games. There was also a basketball hoop out back and I imagined our children playing hoops with their friends.
The above describes what we saw when we toured the house. In reality, there were holes in the floors, windows needed repair, appliances needed to be installed and in some instances, replaced. Oh, and I haven’t yet described the yard. Have you heard of the Amazon rain forest? That was the front yard, on a much smaller scale. I don’t exactly remember everything our real estate agent said about the house, but one phrase stuck out to me so much that I’ve remembered it ever since. He confidently assured us that, “this house is NOT a lemon!” Ladies and gentlemen, any real estate agent worth their salt will never say this. Not only that, they won’t show you houses such as this unless you want a major fixer upper. If you come across an agent that utters this brain burning line, RUN!
Fortunately for us, we decided to email pictures of our future palatial estate to our family. We explained that we hadn’t bought the house yet, but fully intended to. Now, my oldest sister is not a phone person. Never has been. So I was shocked when she called me the day after we sent out our happy email. She wanted to make sure no money had changed hands and told me we needed to find a reputable real estate agent–one who makes a living at selling houses, not just sells houses on the side as a hobby. So we listened, abandoned plans to buy the Great Amazon Mansion of the Midwest, and went about finding a new agent.
So how can you know if a real estate agent is reputable? I recommend going to www.daveramsey.com and finding an agent through their Endorsed Local Provider link. Dave Ramsey is well-known in financial circles as someone who helps people get out of and avoiding getting back into, debt. Any Endorsed Local Provider in Real Estate is required to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course and knows how to help people understand their financial options. Through the ELP page, we were able to connect with an agent that called us back promptly and every step of the way, made sure that we only saw houses that were within our budget and included items on our dream list. We recommend her to anyone we know that is purchasing a house in our area.
Make sure you trust the person that is showing you houses. Taking this step will make the rest of the home buying process that much easier. Tomorrow we’ll cover writing your housing dream list and the importance of contingencies.
Remember you are never alone.