What Does a Buyer's Agent Do?

After helping many first time home buyers successfully buy their dream home, I noticed something that I want to share with as many future first time home buyers as possible! What I noticed was that several of these buyers weren’t aware that they had the ability to use a buyer’s agent to represent them in one of the biggest purchases they will ever make!

I want to put this out there to help educate as many people as possible that you can and should have an agent who works for you when you are ready to buy a home because let’s be honest, buying a home involves a lot more steps than most people realize! So what does a buyer’s agent do? In a nutshell, they help you, the buyers; navigate the entire home buying process one step at a time. But let’s dive in and break this down! Make sure you read until the end because there is great news waiting for you there!

First things first, a buyer’s agent will start by meeting with you to go over the entire home buying process to get you fully equipped so you know exactly what to expect. They will help you identify your needs and wants in a home including your top priorities as well as your deal breakers. They will then set up a custom home search that will find listings that match your wants and needs only so that you don’t have to filter through hundreds of listings that don’t even fit what you’re looking for.

When you start looking at houses, you’ll notice that they will be listed by a real estate agent. What is great about a buyer’s agent that works for you is they work in your best interest, not the sellers. In addition to helping you find a house that meets your needs, they will also help you understand your options when it comes to writing an offer, advise you on the market, help you determine what price to offer the sellers and most importantly, negotiate on your behalf. If you find yourself in a multiple offer situation, they have strategies to help make your offer stand out while matching the seller’s priorities. Once you have an accepted offer, they maintain strong communication with both you and the listing agent so you will always be kept in the loop and never left wondering what’s next!

A buyer’s agent will remove as much doubt as possible. They will provide you with all the tools necessary to make an informed decision before you take on the investment of owning a home. Think of them as your go-to resource throughout the entire transaction. Not only will they educate you through each step, they will refer you to their trusted vendors. From lenders to home inspectors, title companies, and contractors, there can be so many moving parts in a transaction that you’ll be thankful to have the help of trusted professionals and save time trying to research them on your own. All of this will help you have peace of mind throughout the home buying process and prevent you from falling into the buyer’s remorse trap!

It’s time to fill you in on the best part about hiring a buyer’s agent. Here it is.. it costs you absolutely nothing! You might be thinking this all sounds great and I would love to have someone work on my behalf but how much is someone like this going to cost? Having a buyer’s agent won’t cost you anything because the sellers are responsible for paying the buyer agent’s commission. So if you’re already searching for homes online, googling questions you have about the process and you’re ready to dive in, what are you waiting for? It’s time to find yourself a buyer’s agent who will work for you and walk you through all of this – literally, one house at a time!

Look for a buyer’s agent who you feel is a good fit for helping you through the process of buying a home. When you’re interviewing different agents, you’ll want to make sure you choose someone who not only seems knowledgeable but someone who will be available, willing to educate you, able to communicate the way that you want and most of all, someone you feel comfortable working with!

Kim Fowlkes, Realtor
(434) 250-1851
kimfowlkes@comcast.net

Top Lifestyle Considerations for Buying a Home

You’re not just buying a house, you’re buying a lifestyle! That means when you’re writing out your list of must have home features and deal breakers, you need to think beyond the “house data” and figure out which features to focus on that will give you the lifestyle you want to live! As a buyer, you might say you’re looking for a 3 bedroom home with a finished basement on at least an acre and with an updated kitchen. An example of what you really might be looking for is a place to raise your growing family, a kitchen that overlooks the private backyard where you can watch your kids play catch while you make dinner, and extra space in the basement for games, toys and movie night! That’s just an example but I think you get the idea. So the lifestyle you are going to have in your new home is something you want to consider when determining which home features are best for your needs.

Number one – LOCATION MATTERS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE! You hear it all the time in the real estate world – it’s all about the location, location, location, location… and it really is true! Because while you can change paint colors, counter tops and put on that massive deck you’ve always dreamed of, you can’t move your house to a new spot (not without a lot of money anyways).

Think of things like what your work commute will be like, how far of a drive you’re willing to have each day, the features you want in your community, and the school district you want to be in if that is important to you. Do you want to be in walking distance to the downtown? Do you want to be set further back from the road for privacy? What about the size of the city you live in? Do you want the feel of a small town lifestyle or are you happier in a busier city? The location of your home will be something that isn’t going to change so figure out what is essential to you when it comes to the location of your home and the lifestyle it will create!

Now let’s talk about the home features that fit your lifestyle. When you think of home features it’s easy to automatically jump to your running list of criteria such as the size of the garage, how many bedrooms you want, that must have updated kitchen and all of the “house data” like I mentioned. However, you are ultimately buying a lifestyle, not just a house. So I have some things for you to consider when it comes to the type of lifestyle you are ultimately looking for when you make a move! Write down these questions and really think about what your answers are:

  1. Where do you spend most of your time at home? If you love to cook and spend most of your time in the kitchen, you’ll want to prioritize the layout of the kitchen when looking for a home. You can always add in upgraded quartz countertops or that dreamy double oven but the size, layout and location of the kitchen should be a top concern if you don’t want to do any major renovations.
  2. What is something you wish you had in your current home?
  3. What is something you don’t want any longer in your current home? Is your yard a lot to maintain and you want something smaller with a lot less maintenance? Maybe it’s the opposite and your current yard is just too small for the lifestyle you have making one of your top priorities having a bigger yard with privacy.
  4. Which room in your house do you spend the most time in?
  5. How much space do you need to live comfortably and be able to enjoy the things you love the most?

Are you hoping to have enough bathrooms to avoid chaotic mornings?

These questions will help you determine which features could be the most important to focus on when the time comes to look for a new home. Maybe features like hardwood floors aren’t as necessary as having a layout that is perfect for entertaining and hosting holiday parties. You can always swap out flooring later but the layout will be a little harder to change!

Think about how much time you want to put into your house. Do home flipping shows on HGTV resemble your homeownership goals? Many buyers are intent on finding a house they can remodel exactly the way they want which is awesome! However, they often don’t realize how much work, time and money it can take. HGTV can make remodeling and flipping houses look a lot easier than it is in reality. Consider how much time you have to spend on home projects before getting yourself into something that is over your head and potentially over your budget which leads us to…

Your lifestyle budget. Lastly, make sure to budget for your lifestyle, not just your house. It’s important to consider how much you can afford comfortably, not just what you can afford on paper.  Many buyers are pre-approved for a significantly higher amount than what they are actually comfortable spending on a monthly basis. Think about other expenses you have when it comes to your lifestyle – what else is important to you? Do you love to travel or go out to nice dinners on a regular basis? Do you love attending as many games of your favorite football team as possible? What hobbies do you have that cost money every month?  Make sure the amount you spend on your house doesn’t eat up all of your extra funds so you’re glued to the house and can’t have any fun doing the things you love!

There you have it, the top lifestyle considerations for buying a home! Location, home features that fit your lifestyle, how much work you’re willing to do and remember to budget for your lifestyle! If you’re considering buying a new home in the near future and you want to chat more about the type of lifestyle you’re looking for, comment below or send me a direct message so we can set up a time to grab coffee!

WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

As always, I’d love to help. Call or email me today to get the process started!

Kim Fowlkes, Realtor
(434) 250-1851
kimfowlkes@comcast.net

Ramsey Yeatts & Associates Realtors

Fall Leaves Bring Sold Signs

Summer has come to an end and you probably are thinking you’ve lost the opportunity to sell, and need to wait until next summer. But that’s far from the truth! Although it’s not as hectic and crazy with the swarm of buyers on the market, the fall season brings out the most serious of lookers. They are the pool of buyers that waited out the summer frenzy to find their perfect home in the fall, and you don’t want to miss these buyers! They are ready to make a move, today! And selling in a slower period does not equate to less money. That’s a misconception that home owners have based on untrue data that floats around. With the right agent, and your home being priced correctly, you can get a great deal selling your home during the fall season. And might actually prefer it. Here are the top 3 benefits to listing during the fall season.

1. Serious Buyers – Let’s be honest, if buyers are out during the busy season, looking for homes, they are serious and ready to buy. Although the summer brings in a large crowd, that crowd contains a lot of people that are excited by the season, and fall into the “trend” of house hunting. These people end up not really being serious about the process, and tend to hold off for another time. If people are investing time to look during the fall season, they are more likely to be interested in actually buying your home, instead of touring it.

2. Less Competition – Selling in the fall isn’t something many families can accomplish due to personal schedules. That’s why a significant amount of homes get listed during the summer season. Which means that summer time brings in a lot of competition. Selling in the fall means the potential house next door that has slightly more perks that may have been listed during the summer, doesn’t make your home sit stagnant, since everyone wanted your neighbor’s house.

With a slower season, you get dedicated attention to your property, which increases the chance of a sale.

3. Easier to Find Your Dream Home – Not only do you get to benefit from a slower season during the selling process, but you can also benefit on the buying side. With less competition on your dream house, you can get a better deal. The summer brings a lot of missed opportunities for buyers on their dream homes, because they go off the market quicker. This will give you the opportunity to get your home on the market and take your time to find the right one to resize into. A much calmer pace to the transaction will make it less stressful, and everyone all around happier. Don’t feel rushed into buying a home overnight during the summer, it could turn into a headache. If you want a far more peaceful transaction, that has calmer pace, then selling during the fall is perfect for you.

As always, I’d love to help. Call me today or click the link below to get the process started!

https://www.lrelandings.com/kim-fowlkes

Kim Fowlkes, Realtor
(434) 250-1851
kimfowlkes@comcast.net

Ramsey Yeatts & Associates Realtors

WHY RENT IF YOU CAN BUY?

Home ownership rates are the lowest they have been in the last 50 years. Even so a large portion of Americans are still renting properties, instead of enjoying a home of their own. Consumer reports believe this is an issue because of a buyer’s lack of trust in their ability to purchase. It is still a long standing notion that a buyer needs 20% towards the cost of the home in order to move forward, but this isn’t true. With countless down payment assistant programs, and closing cost roll-ins, a home owner could move in with as little as a few hundred to a couple thousand dollar – a huge difference in the time it takes to save up to make the move.

 

With interest rates at an all time low, home ownership in today’s market is a great investment. The money saved over a mortgage’s lifespan can result in tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds. That’s more money in your pocket today. Don’t wait to buy when interest rates soar again. With low interest rates, that means your monthly mortgage payments are at a significantly lower cost, as well. With such a heated housing marketing, rental prices are soaring, and statistics are constantly showing that home ownership can be equivalent to your rental rate each month, if not less. Why get stuck in a small 2 bedroom apartment, if you can move into a home a pay a monthly rate that is the same, and get a 3 bedroom house with a great backyard?

There is also a fear that a home can keep you “stuck” or “rooted” to one place, without an easy transition out if you decide to move. Although the future of the housing market isn’t easily predictable from location to location, you can always discuss with your agent about buying a home in an area that has a strong turn-over rate when a home hits the market. The equity build up when it comes time to selling is going to be far more beneficial, than if you put money into a rental and decided to move. The money from selling the property can be used to purchase a new home. With renting, there would be no additional funds to transition into a new place.

Now imagine if you were renting a home for $2000/month. If your landlord is renting to make a profit, think how much less you’d be paying on a monthly basis towards your mortgage, if the home was yours. Then you wouldn’t be paying a landlord to profit off of you, you’d be paying a reasonable rate, and get to call the property your own. Discuss with your agent and lender the steps you need to take towards home ownership, you might be happily surprised about the type of home you can afford to move into.

As always, I’d love to help. Call me today or click the link below to get the process started!

https://www.lrelandings.com/kim-fowlkes

Kim Fowlkes, Realtor
(434) 250-1851
kimfowlkes@comcast.net

Ramsey Yeatts & Associates Realtors