If you’ve thought about beginning your homeownership journey, you probably realized pretty quickly it isn’t a straightforward process. Real estate agents are supposed to try and help you with the complicated parts, but many rush the deal over the finishing line, leading you astray from your needs, wants, and musts. Between the financial commitment and the swarm of information, some young adults abandon homeownership entirely.
But maybe they just haven’t found the right agent yet. As a REALTOR® at Realty One Group Titanium in Athens, Alabama, Kristy Reith’s top priority is education. She believes homebuying is far from out of reach for college grads, newlyweds, young families, or anyone wanting to purchase property. The difference-maker is who you know and how much they help you out.
“A lot of first-time homebuyers come into the process excited but unsure where to start,” she explains. “There are so many steps before buying a house, but helping them through it is rewarding. Not only are they learning the process as we go, but when they decide to leave their starter home and move again, they feel more confident, secure, and prepared.”
The REALTOR® believes real estate professionals should be less concerned with transaction volumes and more invested in their clients’ real estate goals. To that end, she shares three indispensable steps for all aspiring homebuyers to follow at the start of their journey:
1. Liaise with a lender
Taking the first step is often the hardest part of first-time homebuying. Once you’ve got the ball rolling and are in the homebuyer mindset, you’re one step closer to your dream. Get the necessary parts out of the way first; the rest will be a breeze.
“Start by talking to a mortgage lender,” Kristy offers. “A good one will help you get pre-approved for a loan if possible. However, if you can’t get approved yet, they can give you great tips to get your credit and debt-to-income ratios in order so you are pre-approved in the future.”
It’s understandable to worry about your finances before beginning the homebuying process. But talking to a professional first will help you understand where you’re at and where you need to be. Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a reputable lender—doing so will enable you to reach your real estate goals sooner.
2. Be rigorous about your REALTOR®
Many real estate professionals will gladly let you think you need them more than they need you. However, it’s frequently forgotten that, as a homebuyer, you are their client—REALTORS® are there to serve you. So go wild; set your standards as high as you need to ensure you partner with the right agent. If they’re like Kristy, they could become a friend and valuable contact for years to come.
“Anyone you ask is going to know a handful of agents, but do your research,” she advises. “Look into agents’ online reviews, ask for personal experiences on social media community sites, and then narrow down your choices. Once your list contains two to four agents, interview them!”
The dual-licensed REALTOR® in Alabama and Tennessee believes compatibility forms a pivotal part of the equation. During your research, consider an agent’s personality, values, and style as you would their expertise and reputation. The homebuying process may last several months, so enlisting someone you get along with will make the period smoother and more enjoyable. As Kristy says, ‘There are no dumb questions.’
3. Hatch a home viewing plan
It seemed a lifetime away two steps ago, but you’re here. It’s almost time to view houses. But don’t throw everything you’ve learned—the research, knowledge, and diligence—out the window now. Becoming a homebuyer is all about the boundaries you set in advance.
“Start with a solid plan—I give all my clients a checklist in which we go over their wants, needs, and musts,” Kristy says. “With this information, I help them to get as much as they want from their list while setting realistic expectations. It also streamlines the process and allows me to filter out houses that aren’t going to be of interest to them.”
Despite popular opinion, being selective doesn’t harm your homebuying search. It lets your real estate agent focus on what matters to you, meaning you waste less time on properties that fall short of your non-negotiables.
Once you’ve spoken to a mortgage lender, found the perfect real estate professional, and sketched out your expectations, you can explore as many properties as you please. Remember Kristy Reith’s knowledge and compassion while you stand in that hallway, envisioning you and your family doing what you love in that house. It’s your home-buying journey, so never settle for less.