By Will McCullough
So you’re thinking about buying a property in the area? Here are a few tips from my “local agent” perspective that might help make the process a good bit more efficient and effective for you.
Find a local agent with whom you connect well: There are hundreds of local Realtors. That’s right, hundreds. And, as it should be, we’re all competing for the right to earn your business. We all have the ability to show/sell you the exact same properties regardless of who has it listed. So what is in your best interest is to identify who is the best local Realtor for you. Don’t be afraid to initially communicate with a few local agents to determine who responds in a timely manner and with a work ethic/personality that fits your personal needs the best.
Establish Buyer Agency: Whomever you select as an agent can (and will) explain this to you in much more detail but, in short, all real estate agents in the State of South Carolina work for the seller by “default.” That means, even if it is not their personal listing (or even their company’s listing), all agents are required to represent the seller’s best interests in a hypothetical transaction unless you have transferred that ethical/legal obligation to serve to you, the buyer, via what is called a “Buyer Agency Agreement.” This is a topic that warrants a column all of its own but, for now, just know that it’s very important to establish representation and you should discuss it in detail with the agent you have selected to work with.
Get a “Pre-approval letter” from a lender: This is another topic that warrants a column of its own but, in short, a pre-approval letter is a note from a bank or mortgage broker stating, in advance, that you have undergone their credit checks, etc. and are qualified for a mortgage up to a set price limit (subject to certain conditions). Having one of these already in hand when you begin shopping will greatly assist you in your quest to find the perfect property for a variety of reasons to include personal peace of mind, negotiations with a seller and offer consideration. On a related side note, if you are a cash buyer, consider having a means to provide documented proof of liquid capital in hand.
Articulate your criteria: Make a list of exactly what you are looking for in a “perfect property”. Consider location, maximum price range, square footage, bedroom and bathroom counts, whether a garage is essential, ideal floor plan, what you’re looking for with regards to amenities, etc. I can assure you that you can never cover too much detail on this topic. Once you’ve got your basic criteria established, share it with your buyer’s agent leaving no stone unturned.
Give Feedback: When your buyer’s agent sends you property information via email and/or when you tour properties with your agent, don’t hold back on explaining what you do and do not like about a property. Like everything but the small kitchen? Say so! Wish it had a bigger back yard? Say that too! I was a Marine for many years and I always consider this portion of our real estate relationship to effectively be a “reconnaissance.” We’re essentially gathering as much information as possible on your likes and dislikes so we can even better fine tune our service to you and help locate/secure the most ideal property possible for you.
When it comes down to it, a successful transaction boils down to successful communication. Find an agent with whom you can communicate well, communicate well with them in return and be sure you have proper documentation on hand to be able to communicate your ability to purchase to a seller once you find that perfect property. Happy hunting!