Ask McEnearney: Keys to a Successful First Buyer Experience | Real estate

If this is your first time buying a home, then congratulations, it can be a rewarding investment. Congratulations on making the decision to pay your own mortgage, not your landlord’s!

We all dream of a place of our own. It’s exciting once you choose to turn that dream into reality. It’s much more than a real estate transaction, it’s a place that will provide you with a comfortable haven for you and your loved ones, a place to mark special occasions and a place where you will make lasting memories.

The keys to a successful experience start with building a great team to guide you through the process. The process should begin by enlisting the help of a full-time real estate agent. Ignore the hype in advertisements and on the internet, instead choose your real estate agent based on recommendations from family and friends. A great agent is an essential resource who can refer you to professionals they have worked with over the years. These skilled people will have already proven themselves and you can benefit from their expertise.

After choosing an agent to work on your behalf, ask them for the names of two or three recommended lenders. A good agent will know good lenders who will go the extra mile and provide top notch customer service. Feeling comfortable with a lender is essential. The loan officer reviews your income, assets and liabilities and manages your credit. They will match a loan program to meet your specific needs. There are even loan programs specifically designed for you, the first-time home buyer.

Once selected, it is important to obtain a pre-approval letter. It will save you time and emotion. There’s nothing more frustrating or disappointing than falling in love with a home and finding out you’re not eligible to buy it. Starting your loan process early is key to ensuring there are no errors on your credit report that need to be corrected. Sometimes these can take a considerable amount of time to fix.

Third, of course, the seller will want to see a good pre-approval letter to ensure the buyer can get a loan. When comparing rates, be sure to ask for a zero point rate quote so the comparison is truly apples to apples. Also remember that the market fluctuates daily, so if you are comparing rates, it is important to make your comparisons on the same day.

Make sure you are represented by a buyer’s agent. Consumer advocates in the early 1990s helped create buyer representation. Prior to the advent of buyer agency, agents working with buyers were effectively sub-agents of sellers, meaning they did not work for what was best for the buyer, but rather in the best interest of the seller.

A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to represent your best interests. They will both advise you on how to make a good offer and how to advocate and negotiate on your behalf. It no longer costs you anything to work with a buyer’s agent. Traditionally in the Washington area, the seller actually pays the buyer’s agent compensation. Please confirm with your agent that this is how they operate. Why wouldn’t you want someone working for your best interests when the stakes are so high?

Finally, you will want to ask for a recommendation for a title or settlement company. They are the ones who will look at past sales of a property, review the deeds and make sure the title is clear of any liens. They will also issue title insurance to protect your interests down the road. See my last article describing the duties of the title company in your buying process.

When you put together a team of successful professionals, including a realtor, loan officer and title company, you have found the keys to a successful first home purchase. Good luck; it’s an exciting adventure with a huge payoff for years to come!

Interested in buying or selling a home this year? Contact me, I have the tools and strategies to help you navigate our local real estate market.

Martha Floyd is a Virginia Licensed Realtor with McEnearney Associates Realtors® in McLean, VA and a Lifetime Producer. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Martha at 703.408.9478 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to schedule a meeting with one of our associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal opportunity in housing. #WeAreMcEnearney

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