When Should You Start?
Assuming your finances are in order (your debts are not too high, youíre not delinquent on anything and youíve made payments on time) then you probably should start about three months before you are ready to move.† Although it is possible to go through the process faster, it normally takes about two months to settle on a property.† There are exceptions, for example, a new home may take 4 to 5 months to build, or some loans may require a longer time before you can settle.† Then you want to allow yourself time to look and negotiate.† If you think you may need to get your finances in order, but donít know how, then you might want to start the process sooner, maybe a lot sooner if you will need financial counseling and will need to take action to improve your current situation.† Also pay attention to the financial market.† If you can get a good deal on interest rates, it may be worthwhile to move sooner and save money long-term on payments.
You should start by meeting your agent at their office.† If you meet them at a house the first time, you will be starting the process without being fully informed, and may encounter difficulties if you donít want to work with that agent, but want to buy that house.† You may also be preventing yourself from getting full and proper representation in the purchase of your new home.† There are some questions you should have answers to before you look at any houses.
You should also ask if there is any charge for their services.† This is not necessarily a bad thing if the answer is yes.† Payment normally wouldnít be owed if you donít settle on a house (find that out too) and if somebody is going to charge a couple of hundred dollars and save you five thousand, itís definitely worth it to work with that person.† In a few circumstances it may even work to your advantage to have a buyer pay a commission instead of the seller, as long as the equivalent amount comes off the purchase price (although this is unusual; in most cases it is actually in EVERYONEíS best interest to have the seller pay the whole commission).
Have the agent explain everything you are going to be doing in the process, and make sure they understand what is really going to make you happy (make sure you know first).† Trying to skip by the initial meeting with your new agent may save you an hour or two the first day, but it will cost you twenty, thirty, forty hours or more when you are looking and then buying.† Do you want someone to start showing you houses without knowing what you wants and needs are?
©2002 Douglas R. Barry