If you’ve ever been searching for a new home or endeavored to sell your own, you know that realtors are considered the pros at this process for a reason. Not only do they have a rigorous education in the subject, but they also keep themselves steeped in the market at, well, pretty much all times. All that to say … no one is more equipped to tell you what you need to know! We decided to get the scoop from two members of our very own extraordinary team: Heather Booth and Jan Corley. Asked what realtors really want you to know about selling and buying homes, their first unanimous reply was …
Find Out What You Can Afford before You Look to Buy a House
While this might seem like something you would just know based on your own finances, the fact of how much house you can afford actually lies in the hands of a lender (unless you’re buying with cash, of course!).
“We do have pretty savvy buyers, so they aren’t often surprised by this, but we always emphasize that it’s a good idea, in most cases, to get preapproved before you start your search,” Jan says. Heather chimes in, “Think of it this way: You wouldn’t go on a shopping spree without knowing what your credit limit and budget is, right?”
One aspect that does sometimes trip up even the most savvy of buyers is the jumbo loan! If you’re purchasing a property for more than $550,000 (and again, if you aren’t buying with cash), you’ll be seeking a jumbo loan. The criteria for those is different, and so are interest rates! “Our homes at Upper East River, for example, fall into that jumbo category,” Heather explains. “So, if you’re thinking of buying here and looking at interest rates as reported by USA Today and The Washington Post, you’re not getting the full picture.” It also changes based on whether or not your purchase will act as a primary, secondary, or investment property.
Phew. Yea, it’s a lot of detail. But that’s why your realtors are there! These are just things it’s better to be aware of—your selling and buying expert can handle the fine print!
Speaking of that, here’s something else realtors want you to know about selling and buying:
New Construction Homes Often Demand Flexibility
When you buy a home that is still under construction, there is a whole other slew of things you have to be cognizant of. For example, we just talked about getting preapproved before you start your search, buuuuut if you plan to buy something that isn’t built yet, that actually changes a tad.
“Most of the time, interest rates can be locked in for 60 or 90 days,” Heather says. “So, if you’re looking at a home that is going to take another nine months or a year to be completed, you either have to start the prequalification process toward the end, or, there are some banks that will work with you to establish longer periods for a rate to be locked in.”
And you might really need that longer time range, because construction can be unpredictable. Even when a developer/builder has the best of intentions and the most talented, on-the-ball team, it’s almost impossible to stay on a tight schedule. This is mostly because of constantly shifting materials availability, but it’s also just a result of the process.
You don’t always know what challenges you’ll face when building a home!
“We caution clients against making too many plans around a specific target date, because builders are at the mercy of a lot of factors outside their control,” Heather says.
Jan adds that the scale of your project is relevant here: “Our construction process here at Upper East River is a bit different, because it isn’t fully custom. When you decide to build fully custom, you run into different holdups, usually related to decisions and desired features that aren’t easy to execute.”
Whereas, with a home like one of ours, you get the beautiful new build but with a smoother process (and historically informed design!). But to contemplate the “to go custom or not to go custom” dilemma more, check out our previous blog post.
But for now, let’s keep talking about what you must know!
Real Estate Rarely Loses Value
Another point of concern for many modern-day sellers and buyers is that of value math. Everyone wants to make money off of their home, and everyone wants to know they’re buying something that may do the same in the future.
But did you know that the real estate market is historically less volatile than pretty much anything else?
“If you look back over 100 years or more, even when there are recessions and drops in the GDP or problems in the stock market, housing does not go down in value as dramatically as everyone always fears it will,” Heather explains. Even when it does, it shoots back up. “If you are going to be in a home for two years or longer, it would be extremely rare that you lose value.”
Still, if that worries you, say so! Because realtors really feel that …
Open Communication with Your Realtor Is Essential
There are so many moving parts when it comes to any real estate transaction, whether you’re selling or buying, or both!
Heather and Jan agree that encouraging clients to verbalize their thoughts—their objections, fears, concerns, and dreams—is a big part of the job. You can help by devoting some time to contemplating the lifestyle you’re seeking in your new home, and what you might need to ask about to get there. Many people focus solely on the specs and design of the property, but demographics, surroundings, amenities, etc. are just as important.
A good place to start is considering your hopes for neighbors. “What are the other residents in the neighborhood like? That’s a question I get quite a bit,” Jan shares. “Buyers want to know that there is a likelihood of them making strong connections and friendships with those nearby.”
Heather adds that considering other amenities and logistics is important, too. Do you like to boat along the river? Is golfing your favorite pastime? Are you a runner who loves tree-lined routes that start from your front door? These elements make a huge impact on your quality of life.
On that note …
You Should Consider the Future in the Buying a House Process
The concept of aging in place is a good one to consult regardless of your current age! While it usually refers to the idea of ensuring a home can accommodate the elderly as their mobility needs change, it can also inspire buying for all types of change.
If you plan to have children in the near future or welcome in elderly family members, it’s key to think about what you’d want in a home when those circumstances evolve. Or, maybe you are trying to start a business. Work spaces that suit your specific needs might be at the top of the list!
When Home Buying, Compromise Will Probably Happen
This is a fact of life when it comes to real estate. The place with the perfect in-town location might not have the extra space for your dedicated movie theater. The sprawling country manse might have all of the room for fun you envisioned, but be so far off that no one visits anyway. You will likely make some concessions when looking for your dream home. That’s why it’s so important to think about those current and future priorities.
Heather and Jan also note that between couples, it’s good to nail down the nonnegotiable versus the flexible before you begin the process. If you can’t come to an agreement that makes you both happy, you could do what some of their clients have done. “Some people make up for this by keeping one place at the beach and another in the city, or whatever the split may be.”
Well, there you have it, folks! That’s what realtors really want you to know about selling and buying! Stay tuned for a future post all about the state of Savannah’s real estate market, specifically! In the meantime, if this post has got you thinking you might like to become an Upper East Riverite, check out our available homes! 🙂