Since I answer these questions a lot, I thought I’d write this page for anyone looking for home buying advice.
Generally speaking, buying a home is a shitty, stressful experience. In my opinion, this is primarily due to lazy, greedy realtors. My family was in the building business from the 70s until the crash a few years back. My father was a Realtor™ so he could sell the houses he built. So I grew up in the building biz, I’m VERY familiar with how houses are built and I know what to look for when looking for trouble. I have also grown up listening to my father gripe about how shitty realtors are and how much trouble they cause. I never really believed him until *I* was trying to buy a house. It sucked when I had to tell him he was RIGHT. ;)
First time buyers of homes are just like rubes on the used car lot. Realtors are just like used car salesmen, but for hundreds of thousands of dollars rather than tens of thousands. First time buyers are typically freaked out and they usually mistake the cloying niceness of the realtor who’s preying on them as REAL. It is NOT. Realtors, inspectors and mortgage lenders are NOT your friends. They all have their own agendas and trust me, YOU are not one of them. The realtors are out for themselves and their buddies the inspectors, the inspectors are out to collect their $300 for passing ANYTHING for their buddies the realtors. Mortgage lenders are out to get their cut and of course have their buddies the realtors to funnel buyers to them. And around and around it goes. It’s an incestuous business and they all scratch each others’ backs, not yours.
Our buying experience had a couple of tense moments, but once I beat the seller’s SHITTY realtor into submission, it was smooth as glass. I had a very good realtor on our side, but I’m very well versed in the workings of the real estate world, so perhaps I just navigated well. The main reason things go awry is REALTORS. They are generally a lazy, greedy bunch who want to do NOTHING and get paid. Pretty much every issue I’ve seen come up w/ buying property is realtor related.
So, I guess the best advice for getting into the home buying vortex of chaos is to interview realtors and find one you like and trust. Yes, interview them. Get recommendations from friends and Yelp then call them up for a chat. Be on high alert for bullshit. Good luck. If you’re in Atlanta I’d suggest Karafotias Realty in Decatur. Those ladies do not fuck around and they are honest.
Also, do NOT NOT NOT act like a virgin on prom night. Even if you are unsure about something, just ask questions and get the answers one way or another (the internet is your friend!). Do NOT let these people intimidate you. Just like car salesmen, intimidation is one of the tools realtors use to sell property. They’ll tell you that your bid is shit and crush your dreams then turn around and accept your offer a week later. It’s all a big game to them. Know this and do NOT let them get to you. Be cold as ice and be willing to WALK.
Next advice is EDUCATE YOURSELF. This will go a long way towards giving you confidence when dealing with the salesmen. Learn about structures, what the basic building codes are, etc. Do NOT rely on “inspectors”. They are uneducated, lazy, and work for the realtors.
Inspect EVERY INCH of any property you’re going to buy. Climb those attic stairs! Crawl into that crawlspace! Inspect what you’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for! Do NOT be a pussy about it. Get in there and check shit out yourself. Check that fusebox. Know what type of plumbing is in there. Ask how old the water heater is. Count your hvac air returns! Check the roof for leaks! How much insulation is in there?
Get as much history on the house as you can – preferably from the seller. Realtors don’t like for you to talk to the seller for fear you’ll out them for the bullshit they’ve been feeding the seller, you see. But if there’s any way to find out the name and number of that person, GET IT and call them up. Fuck the realtors.
Finally: Be careful of your mortgage lender. Using podunk lenders who are out of state will fuck you every time. Try to use a mortgage lender that is decent sized and LOCAL or at least has a local branch. It doesn’t really matter in the long run, since your loan will be sold many, many times over its life. But in the short term, dealing with a lender who has local offices will prevent much of the miscommunication provided by realtors and various jackassery at closing.
In summary, when buying property, these are things you should expect and do:
- Realtors lie.
- Inspectors have never built anything and work for the realtor and/or mortgage lender.
- Don’t pay an inspector unless you have to. You’ll do a better job yourself if you PREPARE.
- Educate yourself and be willing to inspect the property yourself.
- Have lists of things to check such as electric, hvac, plumbing, etc.
- Have lists of things you must have, could have or don’t care about.
- Take time to find a decent realtor. (Good luck!)
- Take time to drive around the neighborhood at all hours to see what kind of people live there.
- Be willing to walk away from the deal if the realtors are being dicks.
- Find out which mortgage lender is being used and check them OUT.
- Pull your own credit before the mortgage lender does.
- Do NOT be intimidated. It’s the kiss of death for getting a good deal.
- Speak up, ask questions, be impertinent. Make the realtors work for it. It’s good for them.
- It’s YOUR money and YOUR deal. Don’t let it be controlled by the seller (or his minion the realtor).
With this knowledge, you should be able to go out there and enter the fray of real estate with the best of them. :)