Many home buyers enter and leave the real estate market several times before making a purchase. Priorities shift and — unlike a seller who signs an agreement and has a tangible product to sell — buyers aren’t necessarily tied to any timeframe, unless it’s self-imposed.
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With the start of a new year, many on-and-off home shoppers resolve to intensify their search and finally purchase a home. Whether it’s because of a better-understood tax benefit, the realization of a big bonus or simply a frustrating rental situation, many buyers re-enter the market and get serious. Here are some resolutions for buyers who want to make 2015 the year of their new home.
Enlist an ally
Many buyers spend time in the dreaming phase of home shopping — looking at listings online, researching the mortgage process,running numbers and following the local market. But serious and active buyers hook up with a strong local agent to make it happen.
Agents can serve as a guiding light thanks to the wealth of market knowledge they bring to the table. A good local agent has completed dozens of transactions and understands the process and the market — not to mention the home buying process — like the back of their hand. If things go sideways, they will steer you in the right direction. Leverage their experience.
Balance feelings and data
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There is so much (sometimes conflicting) real estate information available that it is easy to get overwhelmed. A home purchase is not the same as picking out a new tablet, smartphone or even a used car. Aside from the huge financial commitment of a home purchase, there are emotional and practical implications that may be less obvious.
You may walk through a designer kitchen and imagine your family having dinner there, or see a particular block and suddenly feel that you belong there. No spreadsheet or equation will account for those feelings, wishes or desires.
Trying to reconcile these feelings while analyzing potentially conflicting statistics, online data, blogs or forums will be a challenge. If you have a reliable local agent and have been looking for some time, you can feel confident in your market knowledge, while also trusting your instincts.
Abandon the notion of getting a deal
Everyone likes to get a great bargain. But in real estate, deals aren’t always easy to come by. Dozens of fragmented sellers — unaffected by inventory levels and with different motivations for selling — drive each market.
If you are continuously on the hunt for a “deal,” this could be a red flag that you are not ready to buy. If you need to purchase a car, you likely research car prices online before heading to the dealership. You understand that the values range, and attempt to get your car as close to the lower end of the range as possible. If not, you won’t be buying a car.
Will you wait another year to see where prices are? Probably not. Instead, you make a car purchase based on the best deal you can negotiate at that time.
The same goes with home buying. Buyers who spend considerable time learning the market will have experiential knowledge of what they can get for their money and where. They have a realistic view of the market.
Making a low-ball offer may be understandable when you first enter the market. You could be uninformed or nervous, and putting in a low offer is a way to test the waters. But if you’re continually making unrealistic offers, you need to ask yourself if you are ready to be a home buyer. Your low-ball offers may be your way of sabotaging your home buying prospects.
Every buyer is different, and real estate purchases are one part financial, one part emotional and one part practical. The road to buying a home is not a straight and narrow path, like buying a car. If you truly want to buy a home in 2015, dedicate yourself to the effort, and set yourself up for success.
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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Brendon DeSimone is the author of "Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling," the go-to insider’s guide for navigating and better understanding the complex and ever-evolving world of buying and selling a home. DeSimone is the founder and principal of DeSimone & Co, an independent NYC real estate brokerage providing individualized services and a fresh, hands-on approach. Bringing more than a decade of residential real estate experience, DeSimone is a recognized national real estate expert and has appeared on top media outlets including CNBC, Good Morning America, HGTV, FOX News, Bloomberg and FOX Business. Consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.