Sometimes it’s nice to hear what it’s like buying a home from a buyer’s perspective versus what a Realtor may tell you.
So you’re ready to find and buy a home. I’d like to give some tips as a recent buyer in the Denver market. I bought a home in late 2012 in Castle Pines, on Denver’s south side.
First, you’ll want to identify carefully the area you’ll want to live, the price range of home, and the style of home. All three factors are vitally important to a successful purchase and your peace of mind later.
Your desired areas may be driven by a need to be close to a job, good schools or family members. Drive a circle route of several miles around your preferred area and see what homes look like, identify nearby grocery stores and shops, and see traffic patterns. Ask yourself “Where will I be most comfortable?”
Then determine your price range. How much can I afford to spend? Houses in the Denver suburban market are more expensive than many cities in the Midwest, but less than the hottest markets on the East or West coasts. Next, what style do you want: a two-story or a ranch? What will fit your needs and lifestyle? Will you be flexible or insistent on one style?
The next phase is to begin looking at available homes on the Internet on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) with your criteria applied. I found that having a good Realtor is vital at this stage because he knows how to do proper pulls of listings with your criteria narrowed down as much as possible. He will email to you, for example, lists of only ranch homes in your price range located in the cities you want. Then he can expand the lists to include two-stories with master bedrooms on the first floor. He knows how to research and access the MLS listings better and quicker than a lay person to find all homes available.
When you get the lists, look at the homes’ interior and exterior photos to quickly rule in or out houses that you will want to see. This is where the Internet is an awesome advantage, saving you time. You can immediately see if a home’s layout is what you want, although the fish-eye photo perspective in some photos can make it hard to tell true depth of rooms.
When you’ve narrowed your list (it may be only 5 of 20 available homes that you really want to see) then you’re ready to visit the homes with your Realtor. He will call to arrange the showings, to make sure the homes are still available and open tour. When you arrive, walk the inside and outside with your Realtor closely. Ask him to point out all good and bad things he sees. This is where you rely on the expertise of this local professional who may already know much about this house, street, subdivision, school area and so on.
After you’ve visited a house, you must be ready to act FAST to offer on a good existing house in this Denver market, where houses often sell in a day or week because inventory is low. I’ve been inside houses when the Realtor got a phone call saying the last visitor just made an offer and it was accepted. So there is pressure to act, but balance your action: be sure you really love the house, and do your research on details quickly, then move forward on an offer strategy with your Realtor. It can be tense, but you also have peace of mind because your contract to purchase often allows you, as buyer, to fully cancel the deal if the house inspector you hire finds problems you are uncomfortable with. If you cannot resolve an inspection issue with the seller, you can cancel the deal and get back your deposit money. I did this once with my Realtor’s help and patient understanding. Our next deal went to closing fine.
I also found the Realtor’s help important in all phases, especially because I was coming to Denver from out of town (Kansas City). My Realtor knew the areas, the local laws, the best negotiating tactic to get the home without overpaying, a list of inspectors to recommend, the closing procedures, and much more.
Good luck with finding the new home that is just right for you!
Steve Baska bought a house in Castle Pines with the help of Realtor Steve Beam.