Buying a house isn't like buying a Slim Jim at the corner bodega. Infinitely more money, thought, and prep work go into acquiring real estate—and given that it's not a purchase you make often, it's understandable if you might not be adept at wheeling and dealing.
But guess what? There is someone who can show you the ropes well within reach: your real estate agent! Odds are (we hope), you've hired an agent to help guide you through the home-buying process. But even then, there might be things you end up doing that make your agent sigh deeply—and get a strong urge to sit you down and say, "Look, buddy, here's the deal!"
Curious about what those things are? Read on for some of the things that real estate agents really wish you knew, since it would save them a ton of aggravation seeing your deal through.
1. Know what you can afford before you start looking
Finding the perfect home would be a snap if money weren't an issue, but let's get real. For most people, money doesn't grow on azaleas, which means their finances must be taken into account. So don’t waste your time shopping for real estate before you know what price range you can afford; that's like shopping on Rodeo Drive on minimum wage.
One easy way to get your bearings is to type your income, savings, and other details into a home affordability calculator. Better yet, get a mortgage pre-approval letter; the process involves a lender checking out your finances and determining how much it's willing to loan you for a home.
“This is the single most important thing for a buyer, because it helps them move fast on making an offer," Susan Bozinovic, a Realtor with Century 21 Town & Country in southeastern Michigan. And since your loan is guaranteed, it removes any possibility that you won't secure financing.
2. Don’t call the listing agent
In case you didn't know, buyers generally have their own agent, and sellers have theirs. And ideally, it's the buyer's agent and listing agent who interact with each other, conveying their clients' questions and concerns to see if a deal can be done.
As such, when you do an end run and contact a listing agent directly, this seemingly innocent move can cause a whole ton of trouble.
“When you call the listing agent directly, you basically imply that you don’t trust your agent and that you and your agent don't have a strong working relationship," says Shane Lee, statistical data analyst at RealtyHop. "These two things will impede the negotiation. You basically give your power away to the seller’s agent.”
3. Please stop talking around other agents
Another time buyers often put their foot in their mouth is during showings and open houses. Since the listing agent may be present, this is a time when loose lips can sink real estate deals.
“You might say things you are not supposed to say, such as how many houses you’ve checked out, how much you like or dislike the house, and, worst of all, how much you can afford or are willing to spend on it," says Lee.
Sharing such info is akin to tipping your cards while playing poker: It gives the home sellers a whole lot of info they can use as leverage during negotiations.
So when in doubt, say nothing. According to Lee, "Your agent should always be your voice at an open house or in any conversations with the sellers."
In particular, here are some things you should never say when buying a home.
4. You don't have to see every house in a 100-mile radius
You don’t have to look at hundreds of properties to find the right one, says Katie Messenger, a Realtor® with Keller Williams in Louisville, KY.
“If you have an agent truly working for you, you won't be looking at tons of places," she says. "Your agent will screen properties for you and make sure you're only looking at the ones that fit your needs. So if the first home you see is the one, that's OK, your agent did her job.”
5. Don't let the commitment give you cold feet
Sure, buying a house is a big commitment. Yes, it's scary, and your mind might race with all sorts of worse-case scenarios. What if you make an offer on a house, and that very day another house—even more perfect for you—crosses your path? Or, what if you move into a house you're happy with, then a layoff leaves you unable to pay your mortgage? Sure, these are all possibilities, albeit slim. But don't let them get in the way of making this important move. Remember, you can always sell a house later on; this need not be a death-do-you-part endeavor.