… Because, people.

When I made the jump from the cozy confines of corporate America to the Great Unknown of real estate, I thought about how I could best use the skills I’ve gained through experience and education. I never thought that my greatest passion and excitement would be fueled by the people I get to meet and help each day.

After just a few short weeks in production, I’ve written two contracts. And in both cases I have been blessed to represent and connect with some AMAZING people. After telling family and friends about each transaction I realized that I was more excited to talk about the people my clients are, how I helped them, and the quirks and stories that I learned about them than I was to talk about the house, the money or anything else.

The homebuying process is emotionally heavy, especially with buyers up against a definitively seller-centric market like Charlotte. It never crossed my mind that those involved in the transaction would be craving to connect on a personal level with those across the table. I had heard stories about how investors were getting every decent property by coming in with an all-cash offer, however I’ve now been the part of two transactions were the decision came down to “who?” instead of just “how much?”

I’m choosing to set aside the question of “Does revealing details of the parties potentially violate fair housing laws?” and choosing to see the good in people connecting on a real, emotional level. How people can see themselves in the party across the table and the opportunity that a home has given them, and the opportunity that it will give to another family. As long as my clients feel completely comfortable, and understands that they are under no obligation to discuss non-business matters with the other party, I choose to be in awe of the gentle, human element that I’ve been lucky enough to witness during these first few weeks.

What’s your game-plan?

The real estate market in Charlotte has the lowest levels of inventory of homes… EVER. With only 1.3 months of inventory available, while a health amount is considered to be 6 to 9 months of inventory. So, there aren’t enough homes available, most that are put up for sale are selling in a mere number of hours and prices well over the asking price.

So what’s a home buyer to do?

First, be prepared. Meet your real estate agent face-to-face to discuss what the homebuying process is going to look like and let them guide you through the process. Start by discussing your needs for a house, things you would like but are negotiable, and then shop for a lender.

Do your homework. Just because you have a banking relationship with an organization does not mean that they’re going to give you the best rates. Shop around and find the product that works best for you and your situation. Your real estate agent may have suggestions, I have relationships with a handful of local lenders and I give them business because I like how THEY do business and how they take care of my clients.

Know your strategy. With most home sales going into multiple-offer scenarios it’s best to understand how you’re going to make your offer stand out and where your drop-dead point is before you fall in love with a property. What works for you and your finances? What’s your maximum price? What’s your maximum fixer upper threshold? Work with your real estate agent to plan how this all works into your offer. I’ve seen many sellers no longer calling for “highest and best” offers, so it’s advantageous to put your best foot forward as a buyer with your initial offer.

Evaluate. What would happen if you signed, sealed and delivered this offer and you didn’t win? How would you feel tomorrow? Would you wish that you flexed on something? Do you wish you gave up on asking for that $400 home warranty? If so, clean up your offer before it goes out. The less things you ask for from the seller the better off you’ll be.

Have your ducks in a row. This goes along with understanding your offer strategy. Make sure you have proof of funds for any liquid money that you’ll be including in the purchase. And have a pre-qualification letter from your lender, if your lender offers a loan program that looks at all of your income and expense documentation to better ensure that you qualify, do it! And make sure that your agent and the seller understand that you’re already fully underwritten at the time of contract.

Be ready to make a choice. Things move quick, so there may not be days to think about any one decision. So understand what your walk-away point is. Just because a seller counters your offer, doesn’t mean that you have to rise to the occasion. If your best offer was your original offer, feel comfortable and confident in standing by that. If it breaks a deal, than that deal wasn’t meant for you anyway.

 

Mathematical Analysis+ Emotions= Real Estate

Purchasing real estate is a little like falling in love. You’re unsure, anxious and eager to get a move-on (no pun intended). But how do you know this is the one?

Well, how does anyone know that they chose the correct partner? You listen to your gut. You’re not going to have all of the questions and all of the answers figured out before putting together your offer. Do the best you can and at the end of the day, ask yourself what you FEEL. How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and didn’t win the Charlotte-esque bidding war that is likely going on? (43 offers on one house? yep, that’s a thing here.)

I can tell you a million times that based on my analysis that a house is a good investment,  is listed at a competitive price, and just so happens to meet all (or almost all) of your search criteria, but at the end of the day it’s your home. So balance the hard-facts with your emotional side and combine what you discover to put your best foot forward in the offer process. Maybe you’d be devastated not to get the house, in which case give your highest and best offer the first time around, if you get a counteroffer you are within your right to tell the seller that you can’t budge. If you feel ok waking up tomorrow and re-starting your home search that’s ok too, offer what you feel comfortable with and stand confident that you did what’s best for YOU.

While real estate may not be rocket science, it is a roller coaster of emotions mixed with large-scale financial decisions. Ask lots of questions, and work with someone who you feel comfortable being advised by…And then make YOUR best decision.

Why a Realtor?

With business and transactions increasingly moving to online platforms it can be hard to understand when it’s best to contact a professional and when it’s safe to go-it-alone. Much like your yearly tax return, the buying and selling of real estate can quickly become a complex item on your to-do list. What may seem simple from the onset can quickly spiral into a complex and stressful legal and financial situation, where you may wish for the advice of a full-time, professional Realtor.

When you call your Certified Public Accountant each January, you’re paying for their knowledge of the tax system, IRS forms, current trends in interpretation of government regulation, their history with other professionals in the field and their ability to get your taxes planned for and filed in a timely manner.

A Realtor has a significant basis of knowledge about real estate transactions, the market in your area, when to call a tax or legal professional, and who to call when there’s a question on anything from an inspection issue to what happens in the event the other party backs out of the contract? Realtors are credentialed professionals much like an attorney, a certified public accountant or a financial planner. So, what should that commission buy you?

Comfort with the process – Much like a CPA and the tax code, professional Realtors spend 40+ hours per week focused on real estate. It’s a balance between studying the local market, answering questions on negotiations and closings, walking clients through homes and talking through their anxiety about making a large investment. A Realtor knows how the process goes and is your resource from start to finish.

Experience – A Realtor who views their business as their full-time career has the resources of personal experience and network experience. While transactions can be complex, they likely aren’t re-writing the real estate book, and a good Realtor will have seen a potential problem before, or has a healthy professional network of people that have seen it all before.

Knowledge of the market – real estate is a constantly-changing industry and markets themselves are always adjusting. A Realtor has access to the very best information available through the Multiple Listings Service (MLS). While you may see an MLS feed through Zillow or Realtor.com, the MLS has more comprehensive data on current and previous sales, along with a lower instance of reporting error. The speed that properties are listed in the MLS and showings are scheduled is absolutely mind-blowing and properties are often under contract in a hot market like Charlotte soon after being advertised, if the property makes it to wide-spread marketing at all.

Follow-through – What is the first step to rebuilding an engine block? If you’re not a professional mechanic, you’re likely scratching your head, and that’s okay! Realtors live their craft day-in and day-out allowing them to be an expert in schedules and the management of details to keep everything running smoothly. You can focus on your life as an engineer, teacher, business owner, etc. while your Realtor takes on the real estate process.

Referrals – Working alongside many different professionals means that Realtors know work styles and quality. Looking for a painter? Your Realtor has likely seen the work of many and shouldn’t be shy to give you a few recommendations for professionals that they’d trust with their own house.

Advising services – When you sign with a Realtor, whether you’re buying or selling a property that Realtor has been drafted to your team and must act in the best interest of you and your family, even if that means the best option for you isn’t the most financially advantageous for them. There will always be stories of someone not maintaining high standards, but there are many Realtors available so meet a few and figure out who has your best interests at heart and that you can work well with. Realtors maintain a strict level of confidentiality with you and can help you understand what you’re getting into before it’s too late, whether you’re talking about the financial implications of a new home or are wondering if that fixer-upper is too daunting for a first-time homeowner.