Buying a new house requires planning and is a challenge for most individuals, regardless of his or her financial status. Just getting through the process can feel like an accomplishment in itself. Buying a property is not only financially rewarding but it can be very emotional. I’m told every real estate transaction is a little different, with unique challenges and problems to fix, but certain things seem to be universal. Here are the experiences that I gathered when I bought my first home in Austin, Texas.

  1. The first and most important thing that I learned very early in the process is that I couldn’t go at it alone. Its a time consuming process and I needed help. I began searching for and interviewing a number of Austin realtors in order to have someone guide me in the process. A realtor may not seem like a necessity but in reality they provide a ton of insight and information as well a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Besides the selling agent pays for the buyers agent’s commission, so if you are buying a home – the realtor’s expense is covered by the agent of the house you are buying.

  1. Take the realtors advice, but complete a thorough search on your own. Most realtor websites provide free access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for their area. Get on that site and search everything in your price range. Quite often there are areas and features that you didn’t initially consider which you may find attractive. The realtor is there to assist you in finding your dream home but they can’t change your mind or decide what is important for you. And in a hot market, you need to be able to react quickly when a property hits the market. The great deals and homes in the most coveted communities usually sell in a few days.

  1. One of the most challenging things to do in a real estate transaction is put in an offer. You need to come up with a price that is based of the comparative market statistics of like homes in the area. Your realtor will have access to all of this information. This is the first problem to answer and is more or less based off or market data. The second problem you will encounter is whether or not the price you have put together is acceptable to the seller of the home. The situation becomes doubly complicated when there are already multiple offers on the property and you are essentially in a bidding war. In this situation, you do not know the offers from the other interested parties.

  1. Another challenge you’ll have is that you don’t get a ton of time to view or experience the home you will be buying. You get somewhere around thirty minutes to walk the property and envision yourself living there for years. Sometimes, you are also able to revisit the property, but that can jeopardize the deal if there are multiple offers on the property. Outside of price, the home seller wants to take the buyer that has the least amount of risk and is the least amount of work to deal with. So you cannot keep visiting the property continously even if you agree to the price.

  1. Once you agree to a price you will have an inspection during the option period. The option period a time frame, usually 5-7 days, that allows you to further investigate the property. The inspection is provided by a 3rd party and he/she will review the home to highlight items that are in need of repair or not up to code. All homes, even new ones, have issues that will show up on an inspection report. You can then take that list of items and go back to the seller and negotiated whether or not they will be responsible for fixing them or you will have to do it yourself. The seller has the right to deny repairing anything and you may be forced to take it or leave it.

  1. You need to stay up top of your lender. The biggest reason homes don’t close on time is because the lender doesn’t process the load fast enough and the documents just aren’t ready at the time of the scheduled closing. There is nothing more frustrating than planning your move only to find out that the lender is behind and you’ll be delayed another day or two. Get on you lender early and often.

  1. The closing costs can be higher than expected. Your realtor will give you an estimate but it’s truly on you to work with your lender on what the costs are associated with transfer of title and such. They often have fees in there that you need to question.

  1. Lastly, you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your neighbors. Try and get a feel for those that live in the community around you before make an offer. You can’t force anyone to leave once you are there so you can prevent a problem by doing your research and selecting a neighborhood that fits your family’s needs.