The beauty of technology is that there are so many resources at your fingertips to find out what you can expect to happen during the home buying process. The internet allows consumers to search for real estate agents, lenders, informational blogs and tips, all kinds of things! But there are some things the Internet doesn’t prepare you for when you’re getting ready to buy a home, and some of those things can be a little uncomfortable to talk about or to experience. So I’m going to give you three different things you can expect to experience during the home buying process, to prepare you so you’re not blindsided when you begin the process of buying a home.
Expectation #1: The Lending Process
I've shared before how much money you need in order to buy a home, and I've discussed the ins and outs of closing costs. But something that is verrrrrry rarely discussed is what to expect when getting pre-approved. Really, what to expect emotionally. I bring this up because of an experience this week with current buyer clients of mine. They are very financially secure and the lender has 100% confidence in their ability to buy a home. Yet, when I talked with them after getting the process going, they were very defensive and upset. In fact, they sounded like they had been gut-punched. Why?
Well, what they expected was that getting pre-approved would be a piece of cake, but because their financial situation has a lot of moving parts, an underwriter requires a lot of extra documentation and explanation. This left them feeling inadequate and uncertain about their ability to buy a home. So I explained to them that buying a home in our current market is much like someone rummaging through their underwear drawer... it's invasive, it's uncomfortable, and you may be left feeling exposed or inadequate. This isn't because their financial situation is shaky; it's because underwriting guidelines have become so strict, in an effort to avoid a lot of the devastation that occurred in 2008. So hang in there and know it doesn't mean something negative about you, it's what everyone goes through.
Expectation #2: When Will I Get An Offer Accepted?
Did you know that 50% of buyers don't get their first offer accepted? That leads to a lot of emotional turmoil. How would you feel if the first home you fall in love with, the one that you see yourself living in, entertaining friends in, and then that dream is ripped out from underneath you? Yeah, that's a pretty gut-wrenching feeling. Many buyers have an unrealistic expectation that it won't take long to find a home, and for some, that is the case. But, I want you to be prepared, to know what to expect. The average buyer writes five offers before getting one accepted. Yes, that's 5.
Why is that happening? Well, we're in a highly competitive market in Spokane, one in which there are multiple buyers interested in the same home. A market that has a very low supply of homes in comparison to the number of buyers looking to buy. So of course, there is a high probability most offers will be competing. In fact, I recently had buyers make an offer on a home that's almost $600,000, and they ended up in a multiple offer situation.
So what can you do as a buyer, knowing this expectation? First, find an agent who will give it their all for you. Find someone who is an expert, who has confidence in the market, and who is willing to look at all angles to help you achieve your dream of buying a home. Sometimes, that means finding someone who will have uncomfortable conversations with you. And it's DEFINITELY someone you feel like you can trust.
Second, be willing to be coachable. Your agent is playing the role of real estate advocate, coach, educator, advisor, cheerleader, and so many other roles. If you pick an expert, they'll coach you on how to make the best possible offer for the situation (and that doesn't always mean the most amount of money). So be willing to be coached. And if you find yourself struggling to trust what they say, evaluate the situation. Is it because they're someone you have low confidence in, or is it because of you and you're afraid to trust them? If they're the issue, find someone else. If you're the issue, acknowledge it, maybe even talk with your agent about it, and don't let it get in the way of achieving your dream.
Expectation #3: The Home Inspection Process
When you're getting a home inspection, most buyers aren't prepped for what to expect during this time. And then they receive the inspection report and think the home is doomed! Don't let yourself get caught in this situation.
So what can you expect to happen during the home inspection? If you're using an expert, then you'll find someone who can help you to differentiate between major issues and things that are normal and not to be freaked out about. They won't necessarily tell you how to fix something, if it's outside their general scope and liability, but they can help you to figure out what's important and not important to worry about. Also, expect that the inspection report will look a lot uglier than it actually is. A home inspection report is about 30-40 pages, filled with lots of information and pictures. It can seem scary when you get it, but didn't you pay for a home inspector to be thorough in checking the condition of the home? Just know that it's their job to point out every little defect. So if the carpet is rippled and needs stretching, they're going to note it. If there is a broken light switch plate, they're going to bring to your attention.
Here's what you need to focus on: look for health and safety items that can impact your ability to live safely in the home. These would be things like mold or mildew growth, electrical concerns, certain types of foundation cracks (although if you're concerned about a crack in the foundation, you can always have an engineer inspect the home), things like that. This biggest takeaway of what to expect: you'll go through this long report with your expert agent that can seem scary but isn't. And make sure you're working with someone you trust, because this is when they'll be coaching and advising you the most.
I hope this list of expectations better prepares you to buy a home in the Spokane, WA market! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my number (call or text) is 509-844-5843.