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  • Writer's picturePDuran

How to buy a Home in 6 Showings or Less.

100 Homes

It was an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters that always stuck with me. The realtor had shown this family 100 homes. You only see three of the homes they considered, but the narrator mentioned at the end of the episode that the family decided to buy the first house they toured. That poor realtor, I thought. What a waste of time. By my rough calculation, the real estate agent made about $5.00 an hour – less the cost of gas.

It’s Your Time Too

I know, you have no sympathy for the realtor. That’s their job – to show you houses. Let’s put that aside for the moment. It’s your time, too. You probably have a job, kids, know, a life. Do you really want to physically tour 100 homes? You have to drive there, tour the home, drive back. Plus the time looking at the listing online, talking about it, and thinking about. Let’s say 2 hours per home. 200 hours or 25 eight-hour working days. Most of them on the weekend.

Buying a home is a huge decision, but if you learn how to work with a realtor, you will find the best home for you and your family in the shortest time possible. Here are 5 rules to working with a buyer’s agent:

Rule #1 - Get Prequalified

You decide you want to buy a home. Your budget is $250K. You call up a realtor (anyone will do) and they start showing you homes. If you call me, my first question is, “Have you been pre-qualified?” If you say you have not, and many do, then I refer you to a mortgage broker. If you say yes, I ask to see the pre-qualification letter. If you refuse to talk to my mortgage broker or show your prequel letter, I recommend another realtor. Why? Serious buyers don’t guess at the amount of house they can afford. (FYI: I’m no longer a licensed realtor. Those who don’t have patience do marketing for other agents.)

Rule #2 – Make A List

Make a list of the features you want for your new home. Actually, make three lists:

  • Hard requirements. What the home must have. For example, 3 bedrooms with a commute under 30 minutes.

  • Soft requirements. Things you’d like to have, but can compromise on. For example, a large yard or a fourth bedroom.

  • Optional features. Things you can totally live without. But, boy it would be nice to have a pool.

Rule #3 – Be Flexible

You will not get everything you think you need or want in a house. Only really rich people get that. I mean Oprah rich. The rest of us mere mortals must compromise. Smaller house, smaller lot, outdated kitchens and baths – something's gotta give. May I suggest that a bigger home is not worth doubling your commute. Stay at a hotel in the area for a week and commute to work from there. If it gets old after three days, sacrifice size for close proximity. Good schools are more important than a fourth bedroom. Another $25,000 at 5% over 30 years is $135 a month in principal and interest. If that’s going to stretch you, consider looking in a lower price range.

Rule #4 – Do Not Buy Online

Don’t use online real estate sites to see if your requirements can be met in your price range. I don’t care how hot a market it is. You need to see the home in person. If you’re out of state, have the realtor give you a FaceTime tour. The home never looks like the pictures. Never. Especially with photoshop and drones.

Rule #5 – Don't Hire Any Agent

Your agent negotiates the price and the terms of the contract. They make sure you have at least one way out of that contract. They help you find a great home inspector. They assist in the decision process. Buying a home is emotional. You may want to walk away because the sellers wouldn’t concede to a $1,000 repair. Your agent is there to talk you through that. I’m shouting this: Realtors do more than show you homes!

I Can Buy That Home in 10 Showings Or Less

Confirm the price you think you can afford by talking to a mortgage broker before you start searching. (Notice I said “mortgage broker” and not “lender.” A broker has access to more options.) Use online searches for research only. Separate needs from desires and be willing to compromise. Find a great buyer’s agent who will be your champion. Do that, and you’ll be able to find your next home in 6 showings or less.


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