If you’re looking to purchase a home within the next 6 months or even a year there are certain steps that we’ve come to identify as agents that will help to ensure a smoother and more stress-free transaction. 

To start out, buyers should begin by finding both a real estate agent and a mortgage lender who they feel confident in and comfortable with.  In both cases you will want to find the specific person who will be assisting you and get on a first name basis with him or her from the beginning.  This means that if someone was to ask you, “who is your agent?” or “who is your lender?”, the answer should be “Joe”, “Sally” or some other individual’s name, not the name of a real estate company or bank that the individual works for.  The service and attention you will receive (or not) will be almost entirely dependent on the individual person you choose to work with.  It is also our opinion that the individual, whether they work for a large national company or small local office, should be local to the state you are buying in so that they know and understand the states processes and contracts inside and out.  Each state has its own methods of doing things and if your lender isn’t familiar with the process it can cause confusion, delays and headaches for everyone involved.

Be sure that you feel comfortable talking with your agent and lender because you will be in constant contact with them over the next couple of months (or longer) so even if it seems like they’re knowledgeable and experienced, but you just don’t feel like they’re a good match for you, then it would be our advice to keep looking for someone different. 

Once you have found both parties that you feel comfortable with and confident in, it’s time to get your loan application filled out with the mortgage lender to get you pre-qualified for your financing before going out and looking at homes.  Doing this in the reverse order can (and probably will) turn in to a disappointing situation where you find that perfect home, but you have to hold off on submitting your offer while you fill out the loan application and rush to get your supporting documentation to the lender so that they can provide you with an AAR (Arizona Association of Realtors) Pre-Qualification letter.  The time it takes to complete that process can vary from a day, to a week or even more so if you are forced to wait to submit your offer on the house you love, there’s a good chance that another buyer who also loves it, but has a pre-qualification ready will end up snatching it away before you have your shot.  In our experience, it can be hard for buyer to see past that first “perfect” home as they continue their search because in their minds, nothing compares to the house they couldn’t have, making the rest of the search much less satisfying and pleasant.

Going back to the subject of using a local lender, you will want to make sure that the pre-qualification letter you receive is on an AAR form, not a bank specific form because in Arizona, the purchase contract we use clearly states that an “AAR pre-qualification form” is attached with the offer so other forms of the letter may or may not be acceptable to the seller and their agent.  An additional benefit of the AAR form is that it has a whole list of information that the seller will want to know, other than just how much you are able to qualify for.  It will tell everyone the type of financing your using, whether or not seller concession will need to be paid by the seller and most importantly, whether the lender who has provided the letter has received any or all supporting documentation from the buyer (i.e. – W-2’s, Paystubs, Tax Returns, etc.). 

Having a lender request and review all of your supporting documentation during the pre-qualification process will allow all of those items to be checked “Yes” rather than “No” which will make everything else listed on the form that must more reliable to the seller.  Having boxes checked “No” can lead to sellers and their agents wondering “why haven’t they received those items, is/are there some issue(s)?” or “has the lender really done a complete job verifying that this buyer can in fact qualify for the loan they have listed?”.

Once you have your AAR pre-qualification letter in hand, it’s time to call your agent and let them know that you’re ready to go out and start looking at homes!

Once you find the real estate agent you feel comfortable and confident working with, they should ask you what specifics you are looking for in your new home and set you up with a search through the MLS called a ‘Portal’ which will show you all of the homes at any time that are actively listed on the market that meet your criteria.  If you would prefer, they can also add in that you would like to receive automatic email listing updates so that you’ll know right away when new homes meeting your criteria come on the market, come back on the market, or change in price.  In a competitive market this can make a huge difference between getting in quickly to see the homes that look the best vs. being a day or two too late.

Most people are very familiar with home sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, Realtor.com, Redfin, etc. which can be used to look for homes for sale online.  If you find that your MLS ‘Portal’ isn’t giving you the right types of homes, or if you’re not finding the kind of results you were expecting, call your agent and explain this to them BEFORE resorting to using sites like the ones listed above. 

Our reason for saying this is that nothing will be as up to date or accurate as the MLS which will cause you to find a lot of homes that are under contract, already sold, or that have inaccurate information listed.  If your criteria that you gave your agent it accurate, all of the homes you should see on those other sites should be in your ‘Portal’ if they are still available.  If it does happen that you find homes that your agent confirms are available, but not in your ‘Portal’, it’s probably time to have your agent update your ‘Portal’ criteria to include those homes you found elsewhere.

It has been our experience that when home buyers begin the process with the correct information and take the appropriate steps in the correct order, they almost always end up have a successful and stress-free experience.

If you would be interested in taking with our team about your home purchasing needs, please feel free to give us a call anytime at (602) 777-MOVE.

Posted by Matt & Shalin Caren on
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