Chris Griffith: Build your team before buying real estate

CHRIS GRIFFITH

If you had to speculate what a first time home buyer looked like, how would you describe one? I asked a few contemporaries and got answers like: In my area, under the age of 30, newly weds, recent college graduates, young people building “the dream.”

The other day my phone rang and it was a friend of a friend with a real estate dilemma. I hate to even call it that because while it was a dilemma to her, it really wasn’t on the spectrum of true real estate dilemmas. She lives in an area of the country that was hit hard by massive over building and the subsequent market downturn. Sound familiar?

As luck and opportunity would have it, she was embarking on the journey of purchasing real estate … for the first time in her life.

What is unique about this first time home buyer is that she probably isn’t what anyone would suspect was a first time home buyer due to her age which I would generalize as simply over 40. Agents just keep assuming she’s an experienced home buyer when the reality is that she isn’t and she’s sick to her stomach with stress and having a hard time holding her Cheerios down.

We chatted for a bit and started to get to the bottom of why she was feeling so overwhelmed. It boiled down to the same basic reason why most people are overwhelmed buying and selling real estate — not enough information and not enough communication.

For what it’s worth, this first time home buyer isn’t alone. As a matter of fact, there are actually a huge number of real estate consumers who should cut themselves a little slack and think of themselves as first time home buyers simply because the market is so different and full of new firsts.

Buying and selling real estate has been turned inside out in the last five years and the way that people bought and sold real estate before the year 2005 is now quite different in most circumstances.

All differences aside with the actual climate of the market, it doesn’t even begin to broach the complications and nitpickery of getting a buyer’s loan through underwriting, waiting for a seller’s lender to approve a short sale or any number of surprises that today’s real estate buyer just wouldn’t suspect was lying in wait.

Like I told the friend of a friend, the greatest gift that any potential home buyer or even a home seller can give themselves in this market is the latitude to take a step back; ask for more advice than usual and to not be afraid to make it clear when they’re feeling confused or overwhelmed.

Whether you’ve bought and sold a dozen homes or you’re about to buy your first, choose your team carefully and remember to speak your mind. You will continue to be stressed and confused unless you have things in order and trust your real estate team.

1. The only stupid question is the question not asked.

2. Surround yourself with a team of experienced people smarter than yourself; real estate agent, attorney, home inspector, mortgage broker.

3. Choose these people carefully and make sure they communicate the way you need to be spoken to in order to understand.

4. Use a reputable local lender and make sure that both you and the real estate you intend to buy is actually financeable before you start.

5. If you’re feeling uneasy, you simply don’t have enough answers to move forward … and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Revert to question number one and three.

6. If you find yourself repeating step five you’ve probably made a bad hire somewhere along the line.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.

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