Ok, so this online 'get a realtor' thing is a little tricky - almost like online dating! I'm not sure how much of this you know and how much you don't. I hope I don't bore you. But the idea is to learn how to engage with a Realtor via the internet and get them to help you buy property.
To set you up for success I'm going to out line the Marin home buying process so you can have an idea of how long this will take and what will be required of you.
In general the process can be a short as 2 weeks to 1 year or more, depending on how 'ready' you are. Most home purchases take about 3 months. The beginning of the process is knowing how much you can spend and the end of the process is your new property purchase. There is a LOT in between and you will be thourouly educated in the Marin County 'ins and outs' of buying property. So fasten your seat belt (I'm a stickler for that) and let's take a ride!
Step One: Unless you're paying all cash, you'll need to get an idea of what you can spend. Many folks go out and look at property prior to getting pre-approved (this means the bank has looked at your finances and is willing to loan you money). This is sort of like going to the grocery store without your wallet! Talk to a mortgage broker or a direct lender and find out how much money you can spend on a house. I'm sure you remember the days when it was really easy to get a loan, but those are no longer. Now lenders require you to have good or excellent credit, enough money to pay your bills, reserves and so on. Many lenders no longer consider an asset (like another peice of property) as a plus but a liability.
Step Two: Now that you know how much you can spend, you can get clearer about what your priorities are. For instance? Is a garage really important to you? Commuting time? Walkability factor? Public schools? How much natural light do you like? What about the architecture? Remodeled or fixer? Write a list of the 10 most important things you'd like to have (more about your list later).
Step Three: Ok, so you know how much you can spend and you know what's important to you. Now is the time to engage and establish a relationship with your Realtor. You may have even been to some open houses and already know what neighborhood you'd like to be in. That's even better, but remember, you're realtor knows the neighborhoods and what each has to offer. Take your top 10 priority list and ask your Realtor to meet you for coffee. Spend time talking about what you really want, what your time frame is, your budget, etc. This is an opportunity for your Realtor to ask you questions that can help guide her/him to finding the right house for you.
Step Four: Ask your realtor to take you out and see some homes. You can look on your own but looking with a Realtor is best because this is the time where both you and your realtor will be educated by each other. Your Realtor will learn what you like by listening as you discuss the homes you see and you will learn as your Realtor tells you about the neighborhoods and the houses you view together. Usually it takes about 15 houses for you to get clear about what you really want, as no house will have all 10 of your priorities and you'll learn what your true priorities really are.
In my next blog I will discuss the rest of the process starting with writing an offer.
Please feel free to contact me with questions regarding purchasing real estate in Marin County.
Annalise Demuth, 510-847-1248