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Heads up: 5 things a first-time homebuyer should know


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Renting offers the safe haven of having a landlord and not having to worry about damage, repairs, paying off your 30-year loan or yard work. But being a homeowner has the allure of the American dream, building equity and wealth and owning something of your own.

Making the jump from renting to owning is a scary one, fraught with loans, inspections, negotiations, appraisals and signing a lot of paper work.

Working in real estate, it’s easy to forget how complicated the process of buying a home often seems to first-time homebuyers.

That’s where you come in.

As a buyer’s agent, it’s your responsibility to guide buyers through the homebuying process. With first-time homebuyers, a big part of this is ensuring they know enough about the process to make smart decisions.

Here are five things all of your first-time homebuyers should know to make the process smoother for everyone involved:

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1. Buyers don’t pay their agents

Some sellers believe they might actually be better off without listing agents. The average listing agent’s commission isn’t exactly chump change and not all agents are worth it.

Buyers, on the other hand, really have no reason not to work with real estate agents.

Buyer’s agents are an invaluable resource for first-time homebuyers, and their services typically don’t cost buyers anything. If you aren’t making sure first-time homebuyers know this, you could lose potential clients.

Tell all first-time homebuyers, not just the ones who ask, how you’re paid for your services. Taking the initiative on this will help prevent some other agent from swooping in with the same information before you have an agreement signed.

2. Not all home loans require 20 percent down

In fact, there are quite a few loan options out there that don’t require a down payment anywhere near 20 percent.

Some loans, like the VA loan, don’t require a down payment at all.

Letting first-time homebuyers know that they have mortgage options other than the standard 30-year loan with a large down payment helps to ensure that they’re aware how attainable homeownership really is.

After giving first-time homebuyers a quick crash course on home loans, hand them off to a trusted mortgage professional who can provide in-depth information and start the pre-approval process.

3. There are great deals out there — and competition

Most first-time homebuyers are looking for great deals on homes. The problem is that plenty of other people, like investors, are too.

Buyers who don’t take this into account when making offers are often forced to endure the frustration of getting rejected or outbid.

To save your first-time homebuyers from these hassles, make sure that they realize making offers under asking price often isn’t a good idea, especially on properties that are already priced to sell.

4. Real estate is an opportunity, not a burden

It’s not uncommon for first-time homebuyers to get cold feet. People considering homeownership for the first time often don’t realize that owning real estate is an amazing opportunity.

To those with commitment issues, homeownership might even seem like a burden.

Prevent buyers from backing out by making them aware of the ways to generate passive income with real estate. After all, starter homes often make great rental properties.

5. Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) aren’t for everyone

At first glance, HOAs seem like an attractive option to many buyers. Security, common recreational areas and community upkeep are a few of the common benefits HOAs offer.

But these benefits come at a price.

In addition to monthly dues, HOAs have restrictions that buyers should pay close attention to. Rental restrictions and pet restrictions are just a couple examples of the restrictions HOAs can impose on homeowners.

Always emphasize the importance of reading the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) in detail prior to seriously considering a property affiliated with an HOA.

For some first-time homebuyers, HOA-governed communities are ideal. For others, they’re real estate nightmares.

Make sure your first-time buyers know these five things before they start the homebuying process as it will make for a smoother sale in the long run.

Pat Hiban is the author of the NYT bestselling book “6 steps to 7 figures: A Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Building Wealth and Creating Your Destiny,” the founder of online real estate sales training site Rebus University, and the host of Pat Hiban Interviews Real Estate Rockstars, an agent-to-agent real estate podcast with Hiban Digital in Baltimore, Maryland. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Email Pat Hiban.

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