So far in my First Time Homeowner blog series, I’ve covered the initial research phase, pre-qualifications and planning down payments, and now it’s time for the fun part: viewings. For those who love home decor or enjoy real estate in general, viewings can be an extremely exciting time to start being able to physically picture yourself in your new property. This is the first step to actually seeing your dreams and hard work come to fruition, and can be a major key in figuring out what does and doesn’t work for you.
After you’ve familiarised yourself with the local real estate market and gotten your prequalification (and preferably, also have an estimated down payment already saved), this is the time to reach out and start viewing properties. At the viewing, you can discuss what you’re pre-qualified for so that the real estate agent and seller (if they’re present at the viewing) know that you’re a serious and prepared buyer.
One option to arrange viewings is to get in touch with a real estate agent personally and let them know your financial situation and type of property you’re looking for so that they can help you narrow down your search and accompany you to showings to represent you as the buyer in the sale. You may also choose to browse various real estate listings online and reach out to the listing agents when you find specific properties that interest you. Some properties are sold directly by the seller, in which case you can also contact the seller personally for a viewing, although those are less common.
When I started my search, I chose the second option. I viewed several properties which I found online and reached out to the agents myself for the viewings; some were extremely helpful and offered great insight although in the end I didn’t go ahead with buying those properties. I actually fully intended to put my down payment down on one of those properties that I viewed, but after telling a friend my plans, they mentioned that their relative was considering selling their property and that they’d match the price if I bought it ASAP, and it turned out that the location of that property actually worked out much better for me than my original plan. We love a good negotiation!
So although I didn’t end up buying with an agent, I still found the viewing process and the information I gathered from discussing with those agents very valuable. I was considering things that I hadn’t thought of before, like how much sunlight I’d actually get when building too closely to buildings that would likely be much bigger than mine. Generally, in any property purchase you should consider: price (obviously), size and/or room for expansion, nearby amenities (gyms, shops, schools etc.), maintenance costs, the development or potential of the area, security and environmental considerations, to name a few things. A good agent will help you to consider all factors in your best interest, and may also be able to introduce you to some new properties within your budget that may match your preference which you might not have come across or had access to find on your own.
Another consideration is that as listing agents are paid by the seller, it could be possible that some agents may favor the seller's best interest in a transaction. Since things such as price, the time-frame to close a sale and the split of stamp tax fees between buyer and seller are all negotiable, you will want someone to have your back as the buyer, especially when you’re a first time home buyer and may not know much about the industry. Although these agreements are normally finalized by each party’s lawyers in the sales agreement phase (which I'll be writing about soon!), it can be useful to have agents help you to come to these agreements earlier on in the buying process so that everyone knows exactly what’s on the table from the start. Ideally, the buyer and seller would both have an agent representing them respectively (at no extra cost to the buyer), to ensure that all parties are getting an equally favorable deal.
Ultimately at this stage in the process, you will want to make sure that you’re going with the right property and have the right advice and team behind you to purchase it. Always look at a few properties to make sure that the one you’re going with really suits you, since it’s such a huge commitment. If you’re ready to start the viewing process, reach out to a real estate expert here at 1 OAK or start browsing listings to take the first step to becoming a homeowner.