There are 3 reasons why you should always look for a new home without a real estate agent. That might sound like a crazy statement coming from a Realtor, but I think you will agree that this is the best strategy, especially when moving to a new area.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that you do not need a real estate agent. You absolutely do! Your real estate professional will negotiate your contract, understands state laws, will manage inspections and repairs and make sure that you are fiscally protected. Your real estate agent will also be able to give you some direction and area tips when you are searching on your own. But, before you start going into properties, here are the 3 reasons why you should look for your new home without your real estate agent.
1. What you see on the internet is not the whole story.
A great photographer can make most any property look good on the internet. You see photos of a well priced home that look like a dream and you can't wait to get inside! What you don't see is how the neighborhood is maintained, what the vibe or energy of the area is like or how easy it is to get in and out of the neighborhood. You also don't get a sense of what is around when you leave the home. Restaurants, grocery stores, entertainment, parks or shopping. There may be a whole host of things that are important to you that you can't see on the internet. You also may not realize yet, the thing that will make you fall in love with an area.
I got transferred to Wichita, KS a few months into my job in Dallas. There was a huge difference in these cities and I knew that for me to be happy in Wichita I was going to have to find just the right area. There was a vibrant downtown area with bars and restaurants, but no housing. The houses nearby were far too expensive for my budget. And, I knew that I didn't want to be in the suburbs. Luckily, I was looking on my own one evening after work (in this expensive neighborhood) and saw this building with no markings. It was gorgeous and I had to know what it was. I went up to it and knocked on the door. I spent the next half hour talking to the doorman about this amazing condo building where only 1 was on the market. He gave me the contact information for the agent and I got it! One of the most fabulous places I have ever had the pleasure of residing.
2. You need a little time outside of the neighborhood.
When a real estate agent puts you in their car to go look at properties, they have a very scheduled day planned. Appointments have to be made to see every property. If, for some reason, you don't make that appointment time, it may be difficult to reschedule. So, you end up seeing the inside of properties and driving through part of the neighborhood to get there, but you don't get to spend any time in the area. What happens is that you find a house that meets most of your criteria and you make an offer (in a seller's market you don't have time to go away and think about it, you have to be ready to act). You haven't even had a chance to go out to eat in the area, take a walk in the neighborhood, talk to people around you or figure out if the amenities you need in your life are nearby. This is just as important to your life as granite countertops and a big back yard!
We were transferred to St. Louis and I pulled these fabulous properties off of the internet. I sent them to our real estate agent and asked to see them. She suggested that we take the first day of our 3 day trip to go out and drive the areas around these properties. I was a little upset. I thought she should be driving us around and showing us the area. What I discovered was that she was right. These properties were all over the place and while they seemed like the real estate unicorns, perfect home on a big lot that is very well priced, there were huge drawbacks to everyone. The one I was most excited about was beautiful, after we drove past the liquor and discount cigarette store, through the animal pens of another property and finally over a half a mile of dirt road. And the house was tiny! It had looked huge on the internet, but that is the magic of a good wide angle lens (this supports reason #1 to look for a house without your real estate agent).
3. If you don't drive it, you don't really know where you are.
This is especially true if you are moving to a new area. When you are in the passenger seat going from house to house quickly a sense of distance is lost. A unique thing occurs after you have seen 2-3 houses. You may start at a home that is near all of the things that you look for outside of a home. The properties are generally pretty close together and you start to feel like these houses are close to other things because of the short amount of time you were in the car. Whereas, they may be getting further and further from the amenities that were important to you in the first place. It is hard to get a real sense of where you are when someone else is driving. When we moved to Charlotte, I was insistent that I wanted to be as close to uptown as possible. We had lived 27 miles (or a 1-1.5 hour commute) to downtown in St. Louis. We found a house that was 4.5 miles from uptown. My husband had a 20-30 minute commute each day because of the neighborhoods he had to weave through to get uptown. Later we moved 16 miles from uptown and the commute is 25-40 minutes. But, because of the proximity to highways, it isn't much further in time. Our real estate agent never probed about why we wanted to be close to uptown. She assumed that it was the prestige of the neighborhoods, when really it was about quality of life and having my husband home at a reasonable hour.
Our company tagline is, "Lifestyle begins at home." We believe this with our whole hearts. Whether you are buying a luxury property or you are a first time homebuyer. When you are at home (this includes the neighborhood and immediate area), it should support the lifestyle you desire. My goal is to call you in a year, 5 years or even 10 and hear you say that you have never been happier with a home.
If you are moving to the Charlotte area we would love to help you find the lifestyle you desire.
Gini Swancy NC Broker/SC Realtor Ivester Jackson Christie's International 704.604.6070 Gini@IvesterJackson.com
6100 Fairview Suite 1202 Charlotte, NC 28210