6 Tips for A Successful Home Search 

new-jersey-home-searchYou know those movies where the two lovers look into each other’s eyes and the music tells you that volumes are being spoken without any words? Yeah, well, that ain’t the way it works when you’re house hunting. Words — lots of them — are your friends, so start talking with your agent early and often.

So what’s the best way to communicate with your real estate team to ensure home-seeking success?

These steps will ensure you are keeping the lines open and the info flowing during your house hunt:

1. Sit down with your agent NOW

You do have an agent, right?

Especially in competitive markets, you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t have someone watching the market and working your case every single day.

This person is your adviser and advocate throughout the process. Make sure “good communication skills” is one of the criteria you bring to bear on your choice of agent.

Meet face to face as soon as possible to form a bond, to lay out your needs and budget, and to learn about the many steps involved in a successful real estate purchase. These are things you don’t want to be hearing about on the fly.

2. Get your expectations set early

Whether you’re buying or renting, tell your agent to give you the facts of the market right between the eyes. This isn’t the time to sugarcoat realities.

Ask her for recent data on list price-to-sale ratios to prepare yourself to make over-asking offers if necessary. Ask about ways to compete on things other than price — doing a pre-offer inspection, for example, so as to waive the inspection contingency. Learn about the need for speed, if any.

Sometimes with rentals, it can be a game of hours. Sometimes you should go in ready to sign.

3. Don’t be shy, be honest

Your agent can’t do her job without accurate information about you.

Don’t hold back on your likes and dislikes, your financial situation (clarified by early contact with your banker or mortgage broker), and your reactions to the properties you see.

Create boards on Trulia and add properties you like and don’t like (even if they’re out of your price range) and invite your agent to collaborate. Everyone talks about personal style in a unique way, so it can be helpful to show, not tell, when it comes to what you want.

This is no time to be polite, so say what you think at open houses and private showings (though privately to your agent, not within earshot of other buyers, listing agents, or sellers).

Each opinion and observation that you voice tightens the focus of your search and offers clarity into what you’re after.

4. Establish a foolproof way to connect

When properties move quickly, every minute can count.

Tell your agent in order of preference the way you want to be reached (email, text, call), and whether you should be hit by all means at once if there is a hot property.

And ask your agent how they are most quickly reached.  Tell them you want their “bat phone.”

5. Be systematic

Avoid flailing about. Make sure your agent and you have a search methodology in place so that forward motion can occur.

Try the “benchmark” approach: At the end of every showing, rank the property against others you’ve seen, always searching for the one place that’s come closest to “right.” Share your approach and rankings with your agent.  Remember, the more they know about your preferences, the better they are able to serve you.

Properties will topple properties, a certain discipline is brought to bear, and your search will develop a rigor and logic of your own making.

6. You are not a loser

If you’re continually seeing properties at your price point that just don’t satisfy, don’t feel like you’ve somehow failed.

The market is the market, and sometimes you have to adjust your sights. Compromise comes along the four vectors of real estate: size, condition, location, and price.

If price can’t change, talk candidly to your agent about adjusting one (or more) of the three others.

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