Where do you start when you’re ready to buy a home in Iowa City? You start by finding yourself a good buyer’s agent to work with. If that sounds counter intuitive, think of it this way. Home Sellers call an agent right away when they have a home to sell in Iowa City. They know they need someone to represent them for this major transaction. You just don’t have the house yet, but you definitely need the same exclusive representation!
Buyer Agency is not a new idea, but not too many buyers are aware of all the benefits it brings with it. Buyers are also not aware that this service is Free to them as the commission is negotiated with the seller at the time of listing a home. This post give you an idea of the service you can expect when you work with me as your buyer’s agent. At the very least it will get you thinking about the value of having a Realtor represent you exclusively in a real estate transaction. Best case scenario it will prompt you to pick up the phone to talk when you’re ready to buy a home in the Iowa City area!
The Importance of Communication – Working on Your Wants, Needs and Wishes
Many of my clients relocate to Iowa City so the first contact is via email or a phone call. Communication is hugely important to me and I typically craft book length emails to get as much information as possible before moving forward. We need to work on your Wants, Needs & Wishes List. I need to know what is important in a house for you. At the same time I like to have as much background information as possible. The location and layout of a home might well be influenced by children, pets, disabilities or any number of other things. It’s really important to me that we find the right house that totally fits your needs and your lifestyle so the more I know at the start the better the chance is that we don’t waste time looking at homes that don’t make any sense to you.
Setting Up the Home Search and Viewing Homes
The next step is to set up a home search on the Iowa City MLS. To start with I typically set up the broadest search possible with just location, style and price point as the main criteria. (Depending very much on what you’ve told me you want). This is tweaked and fine tuned based on input from you. Soon after that starts the fun part where you actually get to see some homes. I typically do some research before we view the homes so I can provide you with some background info on when the houses we view last sold and how much they sold for. During this part of the process this gives you a sense of how homes are priced on the market and later it will be good information to have when you’re ready to make an offer.
While we’re viewing homes I point out pros and cons of the houses we view. I’m your buyer’s agent so have no obligations to the sellers, which means I can be totally objective and tell you what I think are the positive and negative aspects of a house. Typically since I do work with many relocating buyers resale is a hot button issue. If a house is likely to be tough to sell down the road for one reason or another, I will certainly make sure you know that.
Making an Offer to Purchase a Home in the Iowa City Area
The more choices you have when you’re viewing homes the harder it is to make a decision about which one to make an offer on. I’ve always found that finding the “right” home works best through a process of elimination. You kick out the houses that don’t work for you as you go along. The size of bedrooms, the location of the kitchen, the general poor lay out are all good reasons to eliminate homes from the running. Ultimately, the house that works best will rise to the top and the decision is made and you’re ready to make an offer.
Making an offer is a pivotal point in the home buying process. You’ll need lots of information to help you decide on the best strategy to get the best deal on the house you want to make an offer on. I’m very detail oriented and do a lot of research on the house you pick out including looking at current sales in the neighborhood and trends in the market. Making an offer is not just about price though, we also look at the bigger picture and other terms of the contract that might impact the negotiations.
Working Through the Contingencies in the Contract – Preparing to Close
Once you have an accepted offer we move forward as buyers and sellers both work to fulfill the terms of the contract. From the buyers perspective typically a contract will contain at least 2 contingencies. The first is for home inspections. The second is to secure a loan commitment from the lender. (A pre-approval is not the same as a loan commitment).
The inspection process is a time when emotions run high in a real estate transaction. If you thought the negotiating phase was over when the offer was accepted, think again. This is often a time when strong negotiating skills are required to keep the deal together.
After the inspections have been done and buyers and sellers are in agreement about the repairs you as a buyer can pretty much sit back and relax while the wheels keep turning behind the scenes. (Of course I am assuming you’ve given the lender everything they require to process the loan when I say that).
It’s my job during this phase to co-ordinate with the lender and buyer and sellers attorney to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed in time for closing. There are a lot of players in a real estate transaction and someone needs to be over-seeing the process to make sure the ball doesn’t get dropped on the way to closing. (By now you can see that much of what a Realtor does is behind the scenes that you never see).
Closing on Your Home & After the Sale
Prior to closing I’ll contact you about changing the utilities. If you already live in Iowa City that’s no big deal and you already know the process. As I mentioned earlier, I work with a lot of buyers relocating to Iowa City, for them a move is a lot more than just moving furniture into new house. They need a lot more support and I’m here to give it.
The last step before closing is the final walkthrough so you can check the house is in “good working condition” and all repairs have been done according to the contract. We can do this the day before closing or immediately before closing, depending on your schedule.
Closing is a pretty informal affair in Iowa. I’ll meet with you at the lenders office and you’ll sign the loan documents. The sellers may or may not be at closing. As long as they’ve signed the deed and closing documents that doesn’t matter to you. As long as the listing agent has the keys and garage door opener that’s all that matters!
Closing of course is not the end for you. It’s a new beginning. And although technically at this point you don’t need me as a Realtor anymore I always make a point of telling clients that if they need anything I’m just an email away. They know I mean it too and take me up on it when the A/C breaks down or they need someone to paint their house.
When I started out with this post I mentioned that buyer agency is not new, but that buyers are not well educated on the benefits. 1500+ words later I hope the benefits are clearer. Working with a Realtor who works exclusively for you as your buyer’s agent will give you peace of mind when it comes to buying real estate in the Iowa City area. When you’re ready to work with a buyer’s agent committed to finding the right home to fit your lifestyle give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you!