Updated: Aug 10
In this article, I wanted to briefly go over the most important elements prior to showings for buyers. I'll start with recommendations prior to going over requirements.
Highly Recommended: Be On Top of Property Alerts, Especially with Text Alerts
Many would-be buyers miss out on the best properties because they aren't quick enough on the draw with properties as they hit the market. If you don’t do asap, you’ll miss out on some properties since some properties go under contract <12 hrs from the time they’re input into MLS, especially if in a multiple offer situation and a buyer with a strong offer sets a tight deadline. Sometimes, I'm the buyer's agent with the buyer making a deadline <24 hrs from the time a property hits the market, so it goes both ways.
I recommend getting text alerts even if the MLS portal used doesn't provide for the option for texts directly. Here's how to do that.
In Matrix, the portal used by REIN MLS, email updates can be asap, daily, 2x/day, certain days each week (1x or 2x), or monthly. I recommend asap if you're actively searching.
Highly Recommended: Get to Know The Agent You're Requesting a Showing From If You Haven't Already
If you're just connecting with a buyer's agent like me it's important to get to know that agent prior to getting them to show you a property. Which agent you choose has a massive impact on the purchase process. What you discover prior to the showing, whether you see the property or not, whether you make an offer or not, whether you get the property you want to see or not, whether you get the right inspection or not, what you discover during the showing, and whether you'll have buyer's remorse or not are heavily intertwined with the agent that you get to show you properties.
If Adam's your agent, be sure to review the following:
Here is more about me.
If Adam's not your agent, or if comparing Adam to other agents your considering, see:
Recommended: Option to Take a Pre-Emptive Approach to Expeditious Showings
If you'd like to make things more expeditious, you may want to go over things with your agent before you have a property in mind, such as getting a buyer brokerage established, going through disclosure forms, etc. If you wait until you have a property in mind, those extra steps can take away precious time, especially if you're inquiring about a hot property.
A buyer brokerage agreement will be needed (in VA under most circumstances where I am representing a buyer). While not typical with most agents & not possible with some whole agencies, I allow exclusive or non-exclusive options (though the latter is still discouraged by my brokerage). I don’t charge a transaction coordinator fee as some agents do. It’s also a good idea to keep the buyer brokerage from expiring, since if it expires, a new agreement will be required while if you keep it from expiring all that’s needed are initials on the existing form, requiring less time for the buyer & for the agent.
Having a buyer brokerage agreement prior to showings also makes things better in terms of pointing out the negatives of a property before showing it to you. If it's something that would mean you couldn't purchase the property (i.e. if it's cash only), it's the sort of thing that could be disclosed prior to a buyer brokerage agreement. If it's something that could make you not want to purchase the property, while you'd still be able to, it gets in more murky water from a legal perspective without a buyer brokerage agreement in place. If I wait to disclose some things until after the buyer brokerage is in place, keep in mind that I'm seeking to abide by the law, but that I am not an attorney, and an attorney is best consulted regarding real estate law. One of my top roles as a buyer's agent is to point out the negatives of homes, and it's not uncommon for me to point out things that would make you not want to purchase a property.
Highly Recommended: Look For Potential Negatives Online, Especially for Home Elements Protected by Law
When looking at properties, it's best to use a large screen that you are close to, not a phone. A large screen will help you see more details such as negatives you might not see on a phone. If a virtual tour is available, be sure to see it.
Look for things like flood zones before reaching out about a property.
Get a visual of the area before reaching out about a property, using Google Maps aerial view, street view, and 3d view (which isn't typically available in rural areas):
To shift to the aerial view, click on "Layers" at the bottom left:
To shift to the aerial view, click on "Layers" at the bottom left:
Get an idea of the neighborhood values by going to Zillow.
Image courtesy Zillow
If the home you're looking to see is double the price of all neighboring properties, keep in mind that you can change a house, but it's much harder to change a neighborhood, and the real estate principle of regression is at play in these circumstances, where the surrounding homes can bring the value down of a very nice property. I've seen it happen where a seller I was representing had the nicest home in the neighborhood under contract for $500k, only for the appraiser to knock the price down by around $50k, with the buyer ready to walk if the seller hadn't come down. That said, I've also worked with buyers who really wanted a home, and who were willing to sacrifice some neighborhood qualities in order to have the new construction home they wanted. The decision is ultimately up to you, but it's best to be informed.
Keep in mind that even under brokerage my advice is limited by law, so it's important to do your due diligence when searching for things that have protected class implications, such as the importance of checking for the crime of an area or the school districts of an area (SE VA Districts) yourself using available resources for that I share about & making sure that you are comfortable with those yourself.
If I were to point out that a property had high crime or a bad school district, I could be accused of steering.
For more details on what to look for online, within the search & on 3rd party resources, go to my article on the subject:
Highly Recommended: Acquire Preapproval or Proof of Funds
Securing a preapproval or proof of funds updated from the past 30 days if you don't already have it. I also recommend taking your preapproval as far along as you can with your lender including manual underwriting if possible prior to showings to have a stronger offer & reduce the likelihood of an erroneous prequalification. Let me know if you need lender recommendations. If you don't get your preapproval/POF now, if the showing ends up being a tight deadline, you may be unable to secure those prior to submitting your offer. If that's the case, it will substantially weaken your offer and the seller may not consider it.
Recommended: Consider Your Current Home & Market Forecasts
If you're in a lease agreement:
Be sure to have the information on lease-breaking penalties.
If you are a homeowner looking to sell:
If you are in another area and haven't engaged a Realtor yet, let me know. I can often provide a referral around the world. If you need help selling in SE VA, I also engage in sales. Here is information on buying and selling around the same time.
If you're a homeowner looking to rent:
Be sure that you're able to rent & buy something else.
Related: Advice for Renting Out Your Home
Recommended: Additional Preparations
If you'd like additional suggested preparations, let me know. If you request it, I can send additional preparations prior to showings or buyer brokerage. In addition, after buyer brokerage, I can send you a form for your offer preferences.
Letting your agent know that you want to see a property as soon as you are able via call, text, or emailing me a text following your receiving a property alert will get you the best chances of a showing before a property is under contract. If I'm your agent, it's best to text me as soon as you find a property you'd like to see. I turn my phone to silent when sleeping, so if it's 2 AM, that's no problem. If I'm up that day at 6 AM, or if I'm working at 2 AM still, it's ideal for me to make the showing request ASAP or schedule out a text to the agent for 8 AM to avoid delays while not waking up the low % of agents who don't turn their phone to silent when sleeping. In some cases, I might respond prior to reaching out to the agent about potential concerns about the property if you're my client.
Be sure to let your agent know what times you'd be available & if you'll be coming in person or wanting to see property virtually (typically on Zoom).
Establish Buyer Brokerage If Looking to See with a Buyer's Agent Who Will Point Out Positives & Negatives
If seeing a property with a listing agent and you will be an unrepresented party, you don't need to sign a buyer brokerage agreement, but you do run high risks of not selecting a home on the terms that would be ideal for you since you won't be represented professionally. Also at least if you make an offer, you should be signing a form that states that you are unrepresented.
If you haven't taken the step for buyer brokerage yet, and you won't be seeing a property that I have listed, it will be important to do the paperwork for buyer brokerage (exclusive or non-exclusive) prior to showings as long as your intent is to buy & you want me to do things like pointing out negatives of homes that are a critical component of my showing style. If a listing agent that was showing an unrepresented buyer, who wasn't acting as a dual agency middleman (which is so problematic that dual agency is prohibited at my firm and illegal in some states), started pointing out unrequired negatives, they would be in breach of their duties to the seller, including that of loyalty. While a small subset of negatives are legally required for listing agents/sellers to point out for customer buyers (when the agent is representing the seller), a much larger element of negatives should be pointed out when the buyer is being represented by an agent.
I have a form I can send you with questions going through your buyer brokerage preferences or we can go over them during a Zoom session.