While you are going to get a lot of advice from a lot of people towards just about everything you decide to do in life, advice about buying a home should be left up to the experts. This post is about advice for those that are transitioning from renting to owning. This advice is for those potential buyers who are still unsure of the process, the benefits and the potential for growth of wealth related to home ownership. This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life. So whose advice should you seek out?
Let’s follow the steps we learned when we were little children in school, and were instructed on how to take a multiple choice exam. I’m talking about the process of elimination. Before we decide who we should consult when transitioning from renting to owning, let’s eliminate those who we should not waste any valuable time on.
The first person to eliminate from your list is you. Surprised? Yes, you need to eliminate you from the initial decision. I’m not telling you to remove yourself from the decision altogether. I am telling you to eliminate that little voice all of us have in our heads that stops us from ever taking chances. That voice is going to be so loud that if given center stage will drown out all other logical voices within you. You already know that owning is better than renting; otherwise you would not be reading this article. The only reason you haven’t moved forward is because that voice, (mine sounds like my parents’ neighbor when I was a kid) will immediately step in and start telling you it’s not a good idea.
Here are some things my negative voice (Norma) has tried to stop me from doing. Norma told me that I was too young to accept the responsibilities involved with being a father. 24 years later, I have 7 children and would not change a thing about my life. Norma told me that proposing to Tina after only knowing her for 30 days was ridiculous. 10 years later I can honestly say that I would have been a fool not to. Norma told me that pursuing a career in real estate was foolish because there is no weekly paycheck involved. 25 years later, I can honestly say this was one of my life’s callings, and I am happy Norma didn't win that debate.
Has Norma always lost? NO! She won the debate against saying yes to that guy who wanted me to help him break into the neighbor’s house. Norma won when she stopped me from eating that 4th serving of super spicy chili at my friend’s Texas Ranch Theme wedding. Norma stopped me from getting that girl’s name tattooed on my chest. Norma has won her share of debates. But when Norma tried to stop me from purchasing my first home, I told her my brother was thinking of going skydiving and she left me alone. Tell your “Norma” voice to go bother someone else when you consider buying a home.
The next people to eliminate are those that do not own a property of their own. Would you agree that asking a vegetarian to point you towards the best burger in town would be a total waste of time? Would you ask someone who cannot swim to lifeguard your next poolside event? Would you ask a non-driver to drive your kids to school? As silly as these questions sound, that is exactly how crazy it is to ask a non-owner for advice about owning a home. Guess what? They will be the first ones to give you all the reasons why you shouldn't own, and some of them will destroy your dream because they have completely given up on theirs. Don’t let their fears affect your life.
Finally, eliminate people who have given you bad advice in the past. If you saw a clear picture of someone who fits that description the moment you read this sentence, then you already know who not to consult on the biggest purchase of your life. Bad advice is more plentiful than the grains of sand at the beach and will drag you down like quicksand. Rise above the negativity.
Now that we've removed those that you should not consult, let’s focus on those you should consult. It may surprise you to find out that I am not going to tell you that the first person to talk to is a Realtor, Real Estate Salesperson, Agent or Broker (whatever you choose to call us). I am a Realtor professional in New York City serving Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. So why wouldn't I want you to speak to me first? Well, because I know the importance of preparing yourself properly for the process. So if not us, then whom? I strongly suggest you speak to a loan officer about your finances and your ability to buy. Loan officers, mortgage bankers and professional lending institutions will give you a good idea of where you stand in the purchasing process. A great lender will even work with you to prepare you for that purchase.
After you've spoken to a lender, go to your local real estate professional (look for a Realtor with access to the local MLS) and ask if there is a preferred lender that he prefers to work with. Ask your Realtor for one or two names of good lenders to speak to, and go do a little shopping around. You would be surprised the difference between lenders, lending institutions and their success rate. Realtors usually know who services the local buyer the best. Of course, if after speaking to your Realtor’s preferred lender you still feel more comfortable with your initial choice, then you should go with that lender.
Once you have found the right lender, ask that lender for his or her professional opinion about your purchasing ability. Ask them if they think you are prepared to buy. Ask them if this is the ideal time for you to buy, or if you should work on any financial issues prior to moving forward. A good lender meets with you free of charge to make sure you are a truly qualified individual. Lenders can assist you in taking care of credit or financing issues that might hurt the purchasing process.
Once your financing is in place, it is time to start the search. Visit your local Realtor and interview him or her as if that person is going to be running your business for the next 30 years. After all, this person is going to be running your business for the next 30 years. Purchasing a home is as much a business based decision as it is an emotional, financial, personal, family and need based decision. Interview the Realtor, and if you feel comfortable with him or her, make a real commitment to work with that Realtor exclusively, and follow through with that commitment. This is an important relationship and it can be ruined easily once you start cheating with other Realtors. Find your purchasing partner and stick with that partner.
Once you have found YOUR Realtor, ask questions. Asking questions as you go along will make the buying process flow easier. As a Realtor, my goal is to take you to the closing table in a well-informed manner. I want to make sure you are ready to sign the papers that will take you from renter to buyer. I want to make sure that once the purchase is complete, you will be able to call me a friend and a real adviser rather than look at me as some guy that pushed you so that he could get a commission. As a Realtor, I can tell you there are no greater feelings of accomplishment than to have a buyer refer to me as their Realtor, their go-to guy! I have built both the selling and purchasing sides of my business from referrals. If you are satisfied, you will tell others and recommend me to others. That is important to the growth of my business, which is why any Realtor professional making this a career will always strive to see you reach the closing table completely satisfied.
Honesty and integrity play huge roles in the success of my business. So believe me when I tell you that George L. Rosario, Lev Shalomayev, George L. Rosario Jr (yes, my 24 year old is in the business) and all other professionals I consider colleagues will never steer you wrong. So if we honestly feel you are better off renting, we will tell you before we waste your time finding a home. While purchasing should be everyone’s goal, not everyone will be ready when they first come speak with us. As professionals, we will work with you to prepare you for the purchase of a home. A year’s worth of detailed and patient preparation to buy is always better than a lifetime of renting. After all, what do you have to show at the end of renting? Responsible owners will always walk away with more than renters at the end of the road. Realtors can help you prepare for the purchase of your home, and to move forward when the time is right for YOU.
George L. Rosario