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The Buying Process

We've learned over the years that we achieve the best results when we follow the same process with every one of our clients.  This ensures that no detail is overlooked, and that every client gets consistently outstanding service.  If you become a client of Omaha Buyer's Broker, whether a first-time buyer or someone with vast experience, this is the process we will follow together:

The Initial Conference

We invite new clients to an initial meeting at our offices so that we can find out if we're a good fit for one another!  We begin by asking important questions about your needs and goals, and listen carefully to your answers.  We also give you a feel for who we are and how we work, and answer any questions you might have about our company or the buying process.

We try to provide some perspective on how your housing goals match up with what is available in the local market - and where. We'll talk about what you're trying to accomplish and the time frame within which you're working. We'll talk about the purchase process, about what you need to do to prepare, and what we can do to help. We'll review your general financial situation and give you a sense of what you can borrow and the cash you'll need to close on a home. We will also talk about buyer agency, our company, and how we work on a day to day basis.

You should come out of this meeting with a clear picture of what you'll need to do to buy a home in the greater Omaha market. And you'll decide whether we are the ones to guide you through the process.  We will thoroughly review the buyer agency contract with you at this first meeting, and if we both feel we're a good fit for one another, we'll enter into a formal agreement to work together.  There is no pressure or obligation for you to make a decision at this meeting, but we want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Mortgage Pre-Approval

Before we can physically look at houses, we need to have a pre-approval letter from your bank, credit union, or mortgage broker which states the amount they are willing to lend you for a home mortgage.  If you don't know where to begin in getting a loan, we can refer you to local bankers and mortgage brokers that have served our clients well in the past.  (We do not receive any benefit from any company to which we refer our clients.  Our referrals are based on past experience with those companies, and our criteria are simple.  They have to treat our clients with the same level of care and service that we provide, they have to maintain good communication, and they can't make mistakes!)

A pre-approval is different than a pre-qualification letter.  A pre-qualification letter is simply the bank's best guess as to how much you would qualify to buy based on general information you provide about your employment and finances.  A pre-approval letter, on the other hand, is issued after the bank actually verifies your employment, checks your credit history, etc.  A pre-approval letter is a commitment by the bank to actually loan you a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate.

You may wonder why we insist that we start with the pre-approval letter.  There are two primary reasons.  First of all, it ensures that we are only showing you homes that you can really afford.  It doesn't do either of us any good if you fall in love with a house that is out of your price range.  Secondly, a pre-approval letter gives us strength in negotiating the price and terms of the purchase.  If you make an offer on a property as a pre-approved borrower, at the same time as someone who still has to locate financing, your offer is much more likely to be the one accepted.

The First Property Search

While you're getting pre-approved for your mortgage, we begin the home search process by locating all the properties that seem to match your needs. As soon as we have a clear picture of what you can afford - and a reasonably clear idea of what you would like to buy and where - we will compile the details of all the matches, and then send you a link so that you can review the matching listings online at your convenience.  The listings will include location, all of the details about the house itself, photographs, and a variety of other information such as school districts, property taxes, etc.  Instead of providing the listing information that are available to the general public on the Internet, we link you to the "full agent detail" listings so that you have every ounce of information we have.

This preliminary search might yield 100 or more properties for sale.  Although we want you to have the broadest possible feel for the marketplace, that many properties would be too many to try to analyze.  If that happens, we'll continue to add variables that meet your criteria.  For example, you might try to narrow the geographic region to less than the whole city.  Or we can narrow the search by features - only those with 2-car garages or a walkout basement, for example - if those criteria are important to you.  

The goal is to keep the number of houses in your preliminary review to around 50-75 (again based on your desired features) so that you're not overwhelmed.  When you review these listings online, we know that you'll be able to eliminate many of them just by looking at the pictures or reading the description.  Our goal is for you to narrow the field to pick your top 25.

The Drive-by

Next, after you've given us a list of your top 25 (or less), we will create a driving map for you.  The driving map will organize the properties in such a way that you can drive by them in a logical order, without driving back and forth across the city several times! We ask that you do your own drive-by first so that you can see those things that don't show up in the listing pictures and answer several questions:

  • What is the condition of other houses on the street?
  • What is the condition of the street itself - is it well-kept or full of potholes?
  • Does the neighborhood show "pride of ownership" or is it full of weeds and junked cars?
  • How safe do you feel?
  • How convenient is the location to your work, place of worship, schools, etc.?
  • Can you picture yourself coming home to this particular house every day - and entertaining friends and family here?

A thoughtful - if exhausting - weekend devoted to this process usually gives you some very clear ideas about the communities and neighborhoods where you want to focus your search. Our goal in the drive-by phase is to further narrow your choices to no more than your top 10 or 12.

The House Tour

Once we have your top 10-12 choices, we schedule a home tour so that you can get inside and look at each one. Walking though homes helps you think through - and talk through - what you like or don't like about each property.  And since we don't list houses, we have no reason to promote one house over another, and you can be frank with us about what you see.  We'll also point out things that concern us as we tour.  By following this narrowing process, you might find your dream home in the first day or two after you begin to look at homes.  If you don't fall in love with any of your top 10, then we'll back up and start again.

The Ongoing Search

If you don't find your dream home in these first few days, we will continue to check for new listings in the MLS system (i.e., the Realtor database of homes for sale) and the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sites at least once a day - 6 days a week. We will also try to monitor properties that are being sold by home builders that may not be in the MLS. We will e-mail the information on these new properties to you as it becomes available. If something looks especially attractive, we will follow up with a phone call. If a property looks like it is really on the mark, we will try to get out and look at it with you the day it hits the market. If we take a more relaxed approach, waiting a day or two until things are more convenient for you or for us, someone else may buy the better properties before you've had a chance to look at them. In a word, we will work hard to follow every available avenue that might lead to your new home.

The Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) & Making the Offer

Once you've found a home that you think you want to buy, we will help you evaluate the property and put together an offer. We won't push you to make an offer, and if we see problems, we may try to discourage you from doing so. Nor will we tell you what price you should offer. But we will offer suggestions and counsel based on our years of experience - because we believe that's what you hired us for!

We'll help you evaluate the positive and negative features of the property, point out any problems that you may have on resale, and put together the information you need to determine whether the property is priced reasonably or not. We'll perform a Comparative Market Analysis - commonly referred to as a "CMA."  The goal is to find comparable houses in the same geographic region as the house you like, see what they've been selling for, and help you determine the best offer to make to the seller. In addition to properties that are currently available for sale (Active), it's even more important that we include properties that are under contract (Pending) and properties that have sold (Sold) within the past 3 months, 6 months, or even the past year or two.  We'll prepare a spreadsheet that compares the properties side by side so you can ultimately decide on a purchase price.

We will then draft the offer and get it submitted to the listing agent or owner as soon as possible. If the seller doesn't accept your offer as written - which they rarely do - we will get written counteroffers back from the seller. We will help you evaluate and respond to these counteroffers as well. Negotiations may go back and forth more than once, but ultimately you and the seller will reach an agreement.

From Contract to Closing

Once we have a signed contract on your new home, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that this is a good purchase for you and to make sure that we get to closing without significant headache or heartache. We have to arrange for inspections and, if necessary, negotiate repairs that may be needed.  We'll need to get important information to your lender and make sure they are doing their job, review important documents coming from the title company, and make sure the appraisal gets done on time. We will work with you to make sure you understand what we need to do in order to get this job done right, and we will monitor the process on a day to day basis to minimize the chances that you'll run into serious problems. We'll maintain close communication during this phase, and when everything is ready to go, we'll review with you what to bring to closing.

The Closing

Most buyers have heard horror stories about real estate closings. Indeed, some buyers have lived through one or two of these disasters themselves. But if the professionals involved have done their jobs honestly and carefully, most closings are uneventful - even rather boring - and typically take 30 minutes or less. We will help you prepare for the closing process and will work with the title company, your lender, and the seller to make sure that the closing is a smooth and straightforward process. We will walk through the home with you within 24 hours prior to closing to make sure everything is in order, and we will attend the closing with you at the title company or bank.  We want to ensure that the paperwork is in order and that you have someone there to answer your questions and represent your interests. It is our job to represent you and your interests from start to finish. Helping you through the closing process is a key part of that commitment.