They make it look so glamorous on real estate TV, don’t they? In half an hour you watch a lovely couple flit from home to home with their REALTOR®, gnashing teeth over counter tops and pondering the pros and cons of one location over another. By the end of the show they’re sitting in their new home with big smiles on their faces reflecting on how they made the best decision EVER.
What you don’t see on TV is what happened before our happy homeowners got down to just 3 houses and decided on The One. What of the 50 of houses they tromped through already? Or maybe the 3 different real estate agents they road tested …and dumped? How about the arguments over budget, location, size, style, and darn it, where IS that Notice of Assessment the mortgage broker asked for?
If you’re planning to buy a home in Lethbridge sometime in the future, you may be wondering how long the process will take and maybe even how it all works. Well, unless you’re made of time and money and have bought and sold many houses in recent years, the process is much more involved than you might think.
Here Are 5 Key Steps to Finding Your Perfect Home in Lethbridge:
1) Get pre-approved. It is so important to do this before you start physically looking at homes. You will set yourself up for much wasted time, effort and heartbreak if you don’t have everything ready to go with your mortgage professional. Once you make an offer, you may have 10 business days or less to meet your financing condition. This simply isn’t enough time to put together a mortgage from start to finish. It may have worked a few years ago. It doesn’t work now.
2) Review listings. Most homebuyers start reviewing listings months before they contact a real estate agent. But once you’re ready to get serious it’s time to select an agent who can help you narrow things down. Our MLS® System allows us to create custom home searches for you based on your specific budget and criteria so that you’re only looking at homes that fit.
3) Choose a real estate agent. Surprisingly, many homebuyers don’t realize that they can and should choose one REALTOR® to represent them from beginning to end. You do not have to call a listing agent in order to view a property. Calling real estate agents off their yard signs might be a good way to book an impromptu showing, but give careful consideration to who you want representing your interests over the long run. Call around. Ask for referrals. Take time to select an agent who aligns with you and your needs.
4) Do a buyer interview. How a REALTOR® responds to a “buyer lead” signals whether or not you’re dealing with a true professional, one who values both their own time and yours. A good real estate agent isn’t interested in taking people on Twinkle Tours through people’s private homes. Find an agent who will sit down with you ahead of time to discuss your needs, your financing, your home ownership history and goals for the future. Every step forward after that will be a productive one.
5) Start looking at homes. No kidding, right? Actually, this part can go really well or really wrong, depending on the skills of the agent you’re working with—and depending on how much homework you’ve done ahead of time. According to the Department of Housing & Urban Development, home buyers view an average of 15 properties before choosing to make an offer on one of them. That number may be a good benchmark for you and it definitely aligns with my own experience as a buyer agent in Lethbridge. The key is to be open minded. Many buyers don’t know what they want until they’re standing in it. Now, if you’re certain you want a 3-bedroom home backing onto green space in West Lethbridge, then the process is going to be fairly simple (as long as you have both budget and time to spare!).
I truly believe there is a perfect home for every buyer, but it need not take months and months to find it. Be realistic about what the local market can offer versus what you can afford. And work closely with a real estate agent who will make the time and effort to get to know you and aims to set you up for home-buying success. If you and your agent are diligent about doing the pre-shopping homework, the process of finding your perfect home in Lethbridge should not only go more smoothly but be a lot more fun!