Helpful Questions and Tips For First Time Home Buyers

August 26, 2021

As a first time home buyer, the entire home-buying process may seem like learning a foreign language, if that language was always changing and evolving. If you are in this boat, don’t fret, we are here to help! We sat down with Windermere broker from Team Nest and author of “Six-Word Lessons for Smart Home-Buying in Seattle”, Laura Brodniak, to give you an overview of the process with smart questions to ask along the way.


If you choose to stop reading this blog right here, the most important take-away you can have is that you are not alone in this process! Brokers exist for a reason and it is to help you navigate this always evolving foreign language. A broker is the expert in their field, and a good broker will feel like a well insulated boat that takes you through the ups and downs smoothly. So where do you start? 


Both Laura and her Team Nest teammate, Van Cooper, have built a loyal business helping many buyers in the PNW, and their insights may just help you too! 


Q: What is the most important question you can ask when finding a broker? 

A: If I were a buyer starting this process one of the questions I would first ask a potential agent is why are you the right agent for me? What makes you different from other agents?

Here at Windermere Kirkland we put a strong emphasis on points of difference through continuing to learn and grow through certifications, designations, and additional training to best serve our clients. We like to say we aren’t just unlocking key boxes, we are doing so much more than that. So when you ask this question it will quickly become obvious if this broker has the necessary knowledge and expertise to meet your needs. 


Q: I found an amazing broker who is ready to help me find my home, now what? 

A: The next conversation Van and I would have with our client is about the lender or bank you have worked with thus far. It is recommended to start this step before your home buying process so that you have a clear idea about what you are approved for and how much house you can actually afford. If you have not completed this step, we can help you work with a lender or bank that will best serve your needs. There may be instances, however, where we may suggest to our buyers to change their service provider they bring to the table based on our past experiences. We may know more about this specific lender, and we can guide the client to shift their service provider to best suit their buying needs. 


The next step, specifically working with my team, would be to present the client with a Buyer Agency Agreement. This step comes before showing any houses and it outlines all of the disclosures, expectations, and details that both parties should know before starting to work together. Other agents may handle this differently but for our team part of the understanding with a buyer agency agreement is that the buyer won't be seeing houses with other agents and our team won't be actively working with clients who are searching for homes with identical criteria, as that could create a conflict of interest.


Q: Is there a questionnaire I fill out for the agent to figure out my wants and needs in a home? 

A: This next step of the process usually consists of the agent asking a lot of questions. If there is more than one person in the decision making process that is also something the agent has to consider. Our process if the client is a couple is having them compile a “must list”, what do they absolutely want in a house, and a “lust list”, what would be nice to have in a house. Then we bring the couple back together and work through the differences on their list to narrow down our search so that everyone is happy. 


Q: What does the timeline look like for actually viewing homes once we start this process? 

A: Typically, listings go live Wednesday and Thursday and we would meet buyers over the weekend to show them new homes on the market. This process can look a little different for each buyer, some like to see homes as they come up, others like to have a standing appointment every Sunday morning to go see homes together. However, things are changing  partially due to covid and partially due to the fact that we are in a seller’s market. Buyers are buying homes sight unseen, without inspections, so things are moving very quickly without a “normal” schedule.


Q: By this point in the process I have conducted my own search and I found a lot of properties my broker didn’t show me, why is that? 

A: This is something we come across often and the reason we have not shown you that listing in our search is most likely because when you were conducting the online search you weren’t filtering for all of your needs and wants. From a quick search the home might be beautiful, but it is one bedroom and not four like you are looking for. So most of the time these homes don’t come up in our search because they do not fit into the parameters we have discussed together.


Q: I have seen how brokers go through the offer process on TV, is that how you do it? 

A: In a typical market, there may be some more back and forth negotiating, however being in a seller’s market changes how we are writing offers. If we know the max you can spend is $800k, we might only look for homes around the $600k range knowing that we may have to go up drastically to win the bid. With this type of market there is rarely any back and forth, all of our cards are on the table. 


Q: In this seller’s market, how can I win as a buyer? 

A: If you are working with a good broker they will do their best to figure out what the seller is looking for in their offer. The biggest advice we can give is do not be discouraged, you may lose out on a home you love but a few days later an even better home will be on the market. Find a good broker that is knowledgeable and can be your advocate during these crazy times. 


Q: Yay, we finally made an offer that got accepted, can I move in now? 

A: So before any keys exchange hands a process of escrow must take place. During this time your broker may take more of a backseat as this is the time the mortgage agent will be ensuring everything checks out before the sale can happen. This time frame can vary based on both the buyers and sellers contingencies. During normal times this is when the inspection will take place and the appraisal will also happen. One thing to note is that in the state of Washington, a buyer can be unhappy with something during the inspection, no matter how big or small an issue, and they can leave the offer with no questions asked. So there are a lot of things that can happen between an offer being accepted and moving in. There are also contingencies that may be in place for the seller to become a tenant and stay in the house longer upon closing. These are all details that your broker will help guide you through. 


Q: What advice do you want to share with buyers out there? 

A: There is always another house. You may have disappointment in your home search but if you are open to possibilities, you will find yourself in the perfect home. Also, hope is not a strategy, be prepared, work with experts who know what they are doing and have a plan of action. 


To learn more about Team Nest or to get a copy of Laura’s book click here! If anyone reading this blog has any more questions feel free to reach out to our office, our helpful staff will be happy to point you in the right direction!

Our goal at Windermere Kirkland is to be a resource for the community. Aside from helping you buy or sell your home, our team is dedicated to adding value to our city. Every other Tuesday we will be posting a blog post highlighting different people, businesses, communities, and more throughout Kirkland. Stay tuned!