Sid Davis, owner of Sid Davis and Associates, is known as a power real estate broker with 21 years of experience in the Salt Lake City, UT, area. However he recently turned his attentions to writing, penning A Survival Guide for Buying a Home, released in 2004, and The First-Time Homeowner’s Survival Guide, released in 2007. Though he’s been a real estate broker for the past 25 years, Davis enjoys renovating homes, as well. Davis took the time to share his tips for getting through the first 30 days of buying a home.
Often the biggest fear is the mortgage process and qualifying for a loan. Most don’t know if they can qualify or how much they can borrow. First-time homebuyers fear it especially because it’s an unknown. There is an easy way to put that fear to rest: Contact a lender and get a pre-approval. This is the first thing I do with my clients. Once you have that pre-approval letter, a lot of questions are answered and you can then focus on looking for a home.
First, you’ve got to get pre-approval. Second, you need to find a good real estate agent. I recommend interviewing two to three agents to find one you like. Ask your lender or family and friends for some names. Take time to talk to each one and find one who listens to what you say and is eager to help you find the home you want, versus the home they’re trying to sell. You also want an agent who is knowledgeable about the market where you want to live because real estate is very local. He or she should know what’s going on in the neighborhood you’re interested in. Ultimately, your agent will help you narrow down and focus your search—based on what you can afford and your needs. Ideally, they’ll come up with a list of eight to 12 properties to start.
The first question is: “How much can you afford?” Your pre-approval letter should help answer that. Then, you have to ask yourself, “What’s important in a home and what can I get in my price range?” You also need to decide on the area you want to live in. I always say it’s better to go for a small house in a really good area than a big house in an area that’s not so nice. If you have kids or are anticipating having kids, you’ll want to do some research about school districts. Kids will also affect the type of home you want, how many bedrooms you need and whether or not a yard is important.
You need to get on the same page with your significant other and create a list of what’s most important. Your first priority might be a remodeled kitchen, whereas your partner may want a big garage. If you can’t afford a home with both, you’ll need to compromise. If this is your first home, it helps to think of it as a “starter” home. You may not be able to get everything you want in your first house, but in five years, after you’ve built some equity, you might buy a larger home that has everything you want. Getting everything you want can take time. That’s okay; it gives you something to strive for.
If you follow the steps—pre-approval, finding an agent and focusing your search—buying a home can be very enjoyable. You’re just shopping until you find the one that grabs you. Go at your own pace. On the other hand, if the market is hot, don’t wait to make an offer. Your agent will be able to advise you on that.
After your bid is accepted, you’re really just a passenger along for the ride. The lender and title company will prepare the documents. Of course, you will need to arrange for a home inspection. I always recommend getting a home inspection and many lenders require it. The home will also get appraised, and your lender arranges for that. If the appraisal comes back lower than the agreed-upon price or if the inspection turns up problems, you need to go back to the negotiating table. This can be stressful, but look at it as an opportunity to get more. Your agent will guide you through this. Then it’s just a matter of getting ready to move.
Most of my clients say that packing and moving is the most stressful. But try to think of this process as a chance to de-clutter and simplify your life—a chance to create a new beginning in a new and exciting direction. Also don’t take old clutter into your new home. Instead, have a yard sale or donate to charities. Get rid of the excess stuff you don’t need so you’re ready to start fresh in your new home.
You really need to take time to get to know your home. Learn how the electrical and plumbing systems work. If you’ve never taken care of a yard before, learn some landscaping basics. Keep a positive attitude about these things and be patient. Also, take time to put your own personal stamp on the space through painting or new flooring or planting new flowerbeds. Few things are more enjoyable than creating your own unique space.
I accept the idea that change is always happening and I look for the good in change and try to take advantage of it.
…it creates new opportunities.
The best change I’ve ever made was to create the time and the system to write my first book. It was scary, and I had to develop discipline and a daily writing schedule. But it paid off and now that I have the system down, I’ve written four additional books.
For more information about Sid Davis, visit www.sid-davis.com.
For many new homeowners, the euphoria that comes with buying the perfect new house can soon turn into total panic. With this reassuring guide, novice homeowners can experience all of the joy that comes with having a place of their own....