Regardless of your age, buying real estate for the first time is likely a milestone in your personal and financial story. I think elements that are critical to a good story are defining who is the hero, and what did the hero do, and how did the hero do what that they did, to have a great story. So who, what, and how.
The hero of such a personal story must of course be you. Look at this image and notice the vast number of window panes in the background. Those are a metaphor for the options, opinions, and opportunities the hero is faced with initially. If you are a luckily enlightened soul, this will seem a bit overwhelming and if you are less conscious you won’t notice. If you want to have a laugh with me, notice that it is not possible to have enough window panes to represent the number of people you, your friends, and family know who call themselves a Realtor! ;- )
As a hero, the thing you must remember is this – it is your story to create. Therefore you choose the characters that build the best story and experience of the journey for you. It is not someone else’s journey, it is yours so beware of the influencers in your story. Choose key influencers (characters) wisely because the ink drys fast, and backspacing like a mad person won’t undo your choices. This is not to say you wouldn’t listen when Mom, Dad, extended family, and friends, all offer opinions – and they will freely do so – but to know that while they are part of your story (and sources of information good or bad) you are the hero. The hero listens well, invests time in building their own informed opinions, and chooses the main characters wisely.
So who are the characters? Well, I have the point of view that this is an important project and that the best co-star or collaborator is someone who can have a touchpoint that connects you with all the other chosen characters. This approach ensures good communication and no freaky surprises or extra drama to the storyline. That person must want the role and be capable of the role. And you must want that kind of a partner and be interested in learning and working with a good partner.
The characters in your story should include a number of professionals – quality, experienced, professionals. Because buying a property is a big deal – so experts in their field are a must as your advisory team. This list would include (not always limited to) people who cover the legal, financial, property identification and assessment, and process elements. Bonus if there are people in this mix that care about you and your lifestyle.
Realtor – the true experts in this group work full time, and have a few years of experience under their belt. You do not need to throw this bone to a friend or family member. Be aware that many of the long-time, financially successful Realtors are pure “transaction” people – sales in the purest form. These people are rarely truly interested in the lifestyle, financial, or timing factors in your real estate choices. So it is a good thing you have a crazy number of choices for your Realtor, and you just have to pay some attention to how to choose a good one. A bigger discussion.
Interestingly, Realtors actually play a small part in each of the legal, financial, property ID and Assessment, and process elements. The Realtor is the person best positioned to identify and assess properties that fit your ideals, protect your interests, and will work in the context of your financial plan. It’s not really a retail shopping exercise, although it is fun to have that available to you, remember it is being offered to you from people and entities trying to sell you something. So you must have a counter-balance of informed experience to navigate. That would be known as a professional partnership. ;- ) Because at the end of the day, Realtors are also a player in the legal and process parts (along with your real estate lawyer). The Realtor has a job to negotiate a deal and write up that deal. How well they deliver on either is critical.
Financial – this will be primarily your mortgage broker but there is nothing to say this couldn’t be a bit more complicated. However, I suggest the clients’ Realtor and Mortgage Broker must be walking in lock-step with each other and you to protect you and provide a good experience. There is far more to this process of buying and selling real estate than you are aware of, and this is why there are professionals.
The licensing in the mortgage industry is even looser than that of the Realtors. So for the most part, if either a Mortgage Broker or a Realtor doesn’t come to the licensing table with a lot of other education and key areas of useful expertise, they won’t be your best choice at all. You can assess this fit as I’ve suggested for Realtors. So again you are, at a minimum, looking for credible experience, and various important skills, and bonus points for empathy.
Personally, I like to be a part of the bigger plan, and planning period for my clients. This is not a last-minute project, and if it is then the network of other trusted advisors held by your chosen Realtor is – uh oh – there’s that word critical again. ;- ) So consider building your partnerships early, giving all the time required to make things better and avoid problems or mismatched expectations.
Anyway, now you may understand a little more of what to be aware of so you will be the hero of your real estate story. You are in control and the people you surround yourself with should be there to elevate you and your stories. Personally, I have been blessed to be recognized by my clients as the collaborator partner to ties the team together. In that regard, I love my work and of course, it has shaped my opinions over the 12 years so far in this business..
Good luck and may you truly Invest in REAL Life!