Welcome to the series of posts helping introverts with buying a home, selling a home or investing in real estate. I tend to be an introvert more than an extrovert so I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice on how introverts can succeed in real estate. My last post was on Three Tricks for Introverts When Looking for a Home Online. For all the posts, go here.
You have selected a Real Estate agent, who has helped you by giving you some pointers on how to look for properties online. The next step in the process is to start looking at homes in person. As an Introvert, you will want to structure these showings as much as possible. The agent will be able to schedule the showings with the listing agents of the property. Most of these listing agents will use some sort of scheduling service to handle the management of the showings. Your agent will have some flexibility in setting up the showings your preferred way. Please be aware that some showings do require notice, sometimes up to 24 hour notice, so you want to be flexible yourself if the agent has to make some changes to your agenda due to showing restrictions. Once the schedule is completed, your agent should send it to you with some warnings about it being temporary. In this market, properties will some times go under contract very quickly so there is a high likelihood that the homes you want to see will still be available. In the end, however, you should have a set schedule with property addresses in your email inbox the day of the showings. Hopefully, you will be able to find a home to make an offer on a property with that first set of scheduled showings. It is always a good idea to keep in mind, however, it might take some time. You could see several houses and make several offers before you get a house for yourself.
When working with a real estate agent, there are some great online tools available for you to use in conjunction with your agent. These tools will help considerably in keeping things structured and organized so you can make the process of looking at homes and making offers as efficient as possible.
1. Sign Contracts Online – One of the nicest tools that have developed in the last two decades is the ability to sign documents online. In the past, you had to schedule meetings with the agent to sign paperwork each time it had to be done. With the advent of electronic signing, the real estate agent can put together the paperwork quickly (less than 20 minutes most of the time) and send the documents to you via email for your review and signature. Zipforms and Docusign are the two programs most real estate agents will use for this process. Zipforms gives agents a library of forms to use to make offers. Just as a reminder, real estate agents are not attorneys so they have to use forms promulgated by a team of attorneys down in Austin. Zipforms has these forms online so the agent can quickly fill out them out via the online interface. Once these forms are done, they will be sent to you via a service like Docusign that will certify the process as completed by the parties involved. You can even add further confirmation levels of signatures if needed. If you happen to be without an email, you could always meet with the real estate agent and sign the forms using an tablet.
Bonus: Once of the nice things about a service like Docusign is that it has built in document features so you can be assured that all the documents being signed are stored away electronically. Real estate is a legal exercise so it always a good idea to keep copies of all the forms. If you don’t like to waste paper, these forms can be stored electronically for your easy access.
2. Find tax information on a property – Taxes are like death, you know it is going to happen. When it comes to property taxes in Texas, you will be hard pressed to find higher rates in this country. We don’t have income tax, but they make it up with the property taxes. Because this can add quite a bit to your mortgage payment every month (taxes are paid by your mortgage provider who asks you pay into an escrow every month to cover the tax bill), you want to be sure to consider the property tax amount before purchasing a house. Each county’s tax assessor’s office will have this information available for you to access. Hopefully, it will be online through their website. For example, the Tarrant County Appraisal District page allows people to easily search property records by owner name or property address. If you don’t want to do this, ask your real estate agent for the information. Most of them will have access to a database called Realist that will contain property tax information along with a lot more about the property itself. This report can be very enlightening for you when trying to make a decision on making offers on homes. Once you know how much you will pay in taxes, you can better gauge your required monthly mortgage payment, which will help you decide what to offer on a home.
Bonus: Property history is another good item to know when purchasing a property. The Realist reports will have some great information on mortgage history and any foreclosure activity on the property. You can also find out the sales history of the property along with the owner’s current legal name. You should also know that many portals like Zillow has this information available as well if you don’t want to bother your real estate agent about it.
3. Smartphone App – One way that most real estate agents are using to keep in the loop with their buyers is the smartphone app. Some real estate brokerages will have their own company app that your real estate agent can share with you. We do at NextHome Integrity Group. We can also share an app with buyers from the MLS called NTREISGo(available through the app store). This is the one I currently use. With this app, buyers can send messages to their real estate agent about interesting properties. The real estate agent can then reply back with additional information. The app allows the buyer to have real time information about the properties on the market because it ties directly to the MLS so there are no delays in status updates like with some of the other apps on the market today. You can do a search based on location, address or MLS number. You can even do a search on homes, Near Me, to find homes for sale in close proximity to your current location. The search criteria can be changed on the app to match your own and you even save your searches. All of this functionality in the palm of your hand. I would highly recommend asking your real estate agent about getting one for yourself.
Bonus: With a smartphone, you also have the ability to video chat with your agent. If you have the same phones, this is as easy as calling their number through the phone’s built in video app feature. If you have different phones, you can use a service like Skype to interact. There is no reason you should limit your interaction with your real estate agent to text and phone. It is a great way for you to connect when you are not together.