When you’re ready to start your home search, the first step (and the most important step) is to assemble yourself a rock star team! I may be slightly biased, but after years of experience, trial & error, I feel that the first team member you find is your Realtor. Your Realtor will be part of every step, unlike your other team members, and can usually identify the right people to surround yourself with. I’ve put below the people you’ll need to help you through the process and some ideas on what to look for in each.
- Realtor: again, the most important person and the first one you should look for. It’s important to form a relationship with a Realtor who is honest, ethical, engaged, and who knows the market place. I, like most Realtors, work with clients one-on-one to create the best buying experience for them I can. I facilitate every part of the transaction, keeping the lines of communication open and honest for all parties involved. The biggest thing I tell buyers is if you’re expecting all of those things from your Realtor, you need to be prepared to give honesty and loyalty. I do not work with buyers who are using several Realtors because that tells me the buyer isn’t that committed to me as their Realtor and isn’t going to give me the same level of respect that I will be giving them. In order for any relationship to work, there needs to be trust on both sides!
- Mortgage Broker: if you’re financing your purchase, you’ll need a mortgage broker (or LO as they’re sometimes called) to help approve you to purchase. I put this person second, because I would 100% ask your Realtor who they recommend. Most of my buyers trust my recommendations and use who I refer, but on the transactions they use their own person, there are almost always problems! Here’s the deal, anyone that I am recommending to you I have tested out, I have vetted, and I have set firm expectations with them on how I run my business and what I need from them. The mortgage brokers I work with know I expect them to answer their emails/phone calls on weekends (within reason), they know I have very solid and qualified buyers, and they know I will work fiercely for my clients – SO they all work the same way because that’s what I expect.
- Attorney: the running joke I tell people when the complain about needing to retain council is that we live in Chicago where even the dead vote twice…so hiring someone to protect the largest financial investment in your life is probably a good idea! Finding attorneys in our industry is pretty easy, finding good attorneys is a huge undertaking – trust me. I’ve weeded out several attorneys throughout my years who haven’t been able to give my clients the level of support, attention to detail, and response times that they (and I) need to have a smooth closing. My attorneys are vetted, work hard, and want my business so they will work hard to ensure that my clients walk away feeling overjoyed with their transaction.
- Inspector: this is the 3rd person I recommend to my clients, though it’s usually not the last. Inspectors can make or break the deal, and I’ve represented both buyers & sellers where the inspector’s negative attitude cost us the deal. Their job is to thoroughly investigate all the parts of the property; from the roof, to the basement and everything in between. They open every window, run the heating/cooling systems, climb on the roof (if accessible), squeeze into crawl spaces, and, on occasion, kill spiders for me. Now, that’s their job – their job is NOT to panic buyers, to upset sellers or to make opinions on whether someone should move forward with the purchase. They give a report outlining, in great detail, anything and everything they discovered during their inspection and then leave it up to the buyer to decide what is a problem for them. I’ve gone through about 5 inspectors so far, in 7 years, and the reason is because I need highly qualified individuals with quick turnaround times & an extreme attention to detail – not every inspector is the same.
- MISC: my job as your Realtor is to be your 1 stop shop for anything you might need not only throughout your transaction, but during your ownership journey as well. You need an electrician? I’ve got one (or three ha). You need a plumber who’s fair & honest? I’ve got one. Need a landscaper, painter, GC, tile guy, or a restaurant recommendation? I have all of those and then some. As a relationship based Realtor, our interactions don’t just stop once the checks are cut and the keys pass hands. I’m there for my clients whenever they need me!