Hi friends! I am coming back today to continue our story on how we bought our ranch house. We hope that providing more details of the house-purchasing process could help some first-time home-buyers feel more familiar and therefore more comfortable to the process they are going through, even though theirs might be a bit different from ours. Below is our journey on the 2nd week of house-hunting.
Week two – find a realtor and learn what we want (5.1-5.7)
We actually bought our house though a different realtor from the local one we started with. The reason is not that we were not happy with our first realtor – he was really knowledgeable and taught us a ton about the potential problems in old houses from different decades. But he only covers the mountain area where we currently live, which does not offer many houses in our price range. Anything we find below $350K in Evergreen was nearly inhabitable. We had to move done to the plains.
Our local realtor recommended us another agent named Kerry, who specializes in our region of interests. This is important because you want someone who is near where you want to buy, has sufficient knowledge on the houses built in that particular town, and also has connections in the local market. And Kerry is just the guy. He managed apartment rental properties for 10 years before becoming a realtor himself, lives in the middle of the region he covers, and is really active among his peers.
How a realtor works, or at least how Kerry works, is that he would take us to houses after houses upon our request, without any real contract between us, until the first time we put down an offer. In another word, we could have asked Kerry to show us 1000 houses, not put on an offer on any of them, then stopped contacting him with no explanation needed, and we would have not needed to pay him a penny. Therefore, as a buyer, you are really protected during this buying process.
We like Kerry’s style from the beginning – he generated a very precise search for us in REColorado with our criteria, and fed us new search results twice a day. He would go through the auto-search result first, calling people and eliminated the houses that have been sold but not yet updated, or the ones he knew there were obvious problems. Therefore, whatever houses we saw from his feed would be available and legit. This is necessary for housing market here because houses in Denver sell within 24~48 days, so the communication needs to be rapid and precise.
We had two goals during this week – learn what we like and do not like, and more importantly, letting Kerry knows what we like and do not like. We want to avoid wasting his time as well as ours, so as soon as we figured out what we do not like, we would not visit houses with similar trait again even it was a killer deal. For example, the garage. We wanted a garage for sure, and lots of older houses here have one-car garages. They are usually cheaper and popped up in our searches frequently. However, the first time we saw a two-car garage house, we were smitten. The house looks like crap, but the two-car bay and workshop…we loved it. Immediately, we eliminated houses with only one-car garage, which cut down our daily alert list by two-third.
Our two criteria – two-car garage and a big lot/yard – helped a lot with fast-purchase. I do not know if this is unique to the Denver market, but we were out EVERYDAY touring houses. We usually get 2~3 alerts a day, including 5~10 houses. We look through them, pick out 2-3 to visit, call Kerry in the evening, and road trip next morning. It only took us 10 days like this before we bought our house, but it is definitely a full-time job and felt like FOREVER.
(To be continued…)
This is the 2nd post in our “how we bought our ranch house” series. You can find the rest of the story here:
Week two – Our First Offer and the Bidding War
Week three – Putting Offer on Our Ranch
Week four – Inspection and Negotiation
Week five and six – Convincing the Bank to Buy Our House