By John Johnson
Now that the spring selling frenzy is starting to calm down a little, I thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the biggest stumbling blocks that buyers have on their side of the real estate transaction. We will cover seller issues in the next column.
One of the biggest issues we see with buyers is that some of them are still looking to buy houses without first being pre-qualified for a loan. This is really the first step in the home buying process, and should be done before you ever talk to a realtor. Without being pre-qualified from a lender, you and your realtor are really flying blind. Yes, you may have an idea of how much you can afford, but without having a specific and very realistic budget for your home purchase, you are really setting yourself up for disappointment.
It used to happen all the time that realtors would bring buyers to house after house without a clue of how much they could actually afford. Inevitably, buyer’s eyes were bigger than their wallets, and when they picked out the home they wanted, often it was one out of budget. This led to deep disappointment that they couldn’t buy the home of their dreams, and resentment towards their realtor for showing them homes they couldn’t afford. So who was to blame for this dilemma? I think both parties. In more recent years, especially after the housing crash, both realtors and buyers now see the positive aspects of pre-qualification long before the home showing process begins.
Buyers are now coming into the office pre-qualified and more knowledgeable than ever before. They tend to already have a great idea of what they really want in a new home, and they are armed with a pre-approval letter from their lenders. This usually makes the buying and selling process so much easier and streamlined. Now the buyer is coming into a negotiation with an edge because they are negotiating with knowledge and facts, not hopes and dreams. Sometimes those things intertwine in a transaction, and when that’s the case, the day of closing is a lot of fun for everyone.
Keep in mind that your pre-approval is based on the most current information you give your lender. It’s based on income, credit scores, income-to-debt ratios, job history and a host of other things. If after pre-approval, but before closing, you go out and buy a new car or new furniture for your home, or spend a lot of cash on a vacation to celebrate your new home purchase, you may very well have killed your home purchase. In many cases, even small changes to credit scores, or moderate purchases, can kill a deal on the spot. I always warn buyers of this pitfall.
The other big thing that a buyer tend to balk at, but is absolutely essential in order to get a contract to the closing table, is this: give the lender what they ask you for and give it to them promptly. Sometimes the information they want from you may seem trivial or not a big deal, but not getting them the information they need is another huge stumbling block for a lot of buyers, and always leads to closing delays. Yes, it can be frustrating, but in 30-45 days you will be in your new home, and be really glad you did.
To reach John Johnson from Prestige Property Specialists, please call 706-248-5335 or email him at jjohnson@AthensPrestigeHomes.com.
John started his real estate career in the Lake Oconee area, in January 1995 after working for legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus, in his golf course design firm. Since then, John has received numerous awards. Most recently John was awarded the Circle of Achievement Award from the Athens Association of Realtors. John currently serves as the Athens board’s Vice-President of communication.