Navigating the market as a first-time homebuyer was intimidating, with the low inventory and surging home prices over the last few years. Using a highly qualified and experienced Realtor eased the process.
As a first-time homebuyer, I didn’t know what to expect or where to start. All I knew was that I was ready to buy, and my finances were in order. My Realtor provided me with a wealth of knowledge and information during each step of the process to ensure I was making an informed decision.
The process took longer than anticipated. But after nearly a year-and-a-half search, I finally was at the closing table, signing the papers and receiving the keys to my first home, primarily due to the work my Realtor put in guiding me through the process.
The Initial Steps
Once I was ready to start the homebuying process, my initial thought was, “Who is going to be my Realtor?” I had no connections to a Realtor and didn’t know where to turn. I sought advice from family, friends and coworkers.
One name that kept coming up was Dave Schmidt of Dave Schmidt Realty due to his experience and professionalism.
I reached out to Dave, and we met in early March 2021. We discussed my search criteria and the necessity to get preapproved immediately. Dave also informed me of the market conditions and their impact on my search while providing suggestions on mortgage lenders and the idea of considering a two-family property.
Dave made it clear that his job was to support me, offer numerous options and give me the necessary information to make the best decision. He was genuine and sincerely wanted to help me achieve homeownership.
After talking with Dave, I knew he was the right choice. His experience and knowledge were apparent, and I knew his personality would match well with mine throughout the process.
Dave was prompt and helpful from the start. He immediately set up a subscription in the multiple listing service, a database of all homes currently for sale in a given area, so I would receive an email anytime a property met my search criteria. I knew I wanted at least a three-bedroom and one-and-a-half-bathroom single-family home within about a 15-mile radius of work. But besides that, I didn’t have any expectations for a potential home.
Within the first few weeks, we looked at a handful of houses. All had their pluses and minuses, but I didn’t feel like any were the right option.
Dave’s goal early on was for me to see a lot of houses. He wanted me to have confidence in what I wanted, so I would know for sure when the right house came along.
As summer approached, the search continued. But prices continued to surge, with inventory and mortgage rates at historic lows. I wasn’t in a rush to buy and remained patient throughout the process. We still looked at a few homes throughout the summer, but the search slowed down.
After a lull, my search picked back up in early 2022. Dave and I reconvened at the same coffee shop we met nearly a year before to discuss the next steps of my search.
I now had more confidence in my search criteria. What I wanted on the inside of a house really didn’t change. The biggest difference was the location. I tightened it up and considered only a few areas.
Besides the longevity of the process, there were never really any setbacks. The one minor hiccup occurred when I needed to update my preapproval letter after initially doing it in the spring.
I had only worked with one mortgage lender at that point. They always preapproved me for what I sought, but that changed when I needed an updated letter in July.
The mortgage company dropped my preapproval amount by six figures while providing no explanation. When I asked why and mentioned that my savings had increased and my debt had decreased, they still gave no reasoning. Instead, they talked in circles and didn’t offer to relook at the numbers or do anything to ensure I was satisfied.
It was frustrating. But then I thought back to what Dave told me when we first visited. He mentioned how local banks are great to work with for a mortgage due to the proximity and personalized service.
I called two local banks for preapprovals. They were friendly and talked me through different loan programs and options, such as a fixed mortgage versus an adjustable-rate mortgage. It was a completely different experience than what I received from the initial mortgage company. The large mortgage lender only offered me fixed mortgages and, now looking back on it, provided very little assistance and support to ensure I received a quality experience.
After looking at my budget and researching potential monthly payments, I knew what I could afford. The local banks offered numerous loan options that worked best for me. One loan officer even mentioned how my application was clean and easy to work with for the dollar amount I sought.
Working with someone who wanted to help me achieve homeownership rather than cast me off to the side was refreshing. I also sought Dave’s advice while finding a new mortgage lender. He supported me and gave me advice that ultimately helped me determine the route I wanted to go with my mortgage.
Even though switching mortgage lenders was a slight inconvenience, it was a blessing. It allowed me to talk with numerous mortgage lenders, hear about different loan options and find the best option for me long term.
The Closing Steps
It was a rainy and dreary high 70-degree Sunday afternoon in early August when Dave, my dad and I looked at a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bedroom house nestled in a quiet Menomonee Falls neighborhood.
I researched the property leading up to the showing, as it was in the multiple listing service as a delayed listing earlier in the week. I was eager to see the property but remained even-keeled due to my previous experiences.
The walk-through went well. The home featured wood floors throughout the main level, the basement offered potential and the backyard had a pool. Overall, the house was move-in ready.
After completing the tour, Dave ran the comps in the multiple listing service and talked with the seller’s agent. He gave me his honest assessment and suggested what it would take to get an accepted offer. I agreed and had him draft an offer.
Unlike previous offers where I went $30,000 over the asking price and waived the first $5,000 of the inspection, this offer was simple. I didn’t waive any contingencies and only offered $3,000 over the asking price. We also gave them a deadline of that evening to respond to my offer.
I waited anxiously all afternoon for a response but knew, with the help of an experienced Realtor, that I had put my best foot forward. The phone finally rang around 8:40 p.m., with Dave eagerly congratulating me on an accepted offer. It was the phone call I had waited for, and I knew I was in the final stages of achieving homeownership.
Following the accepted offer, Dave helped me with the home inspection and closing documents. He kept me informed and ensured everything went smoothly as the closing day approached on Sept. 16.
He truly cared about my best interests and made sure I was satisfied throughout the process. It was a gratifying and rewarding feeling once I finished signing the closing papers and Dave handed me the keys to my first home. The journey to achieving homeownership was complete.
Working with a Realtor was extremely valuable. Besides his access to the multiple listing service, Dave’s experience, advice and support made the process smooth, even during the few bumpy times. I always knew I was in good hands and trusted Dave to look out for my best interest.
The process lasted longer than I initially anticipated. But in the end, it all worked out how it was supposed to. I ended up with a great home in a great area. I also learned a lot throughout the process. Homeownership is the American dream, and I’m thankful to have used a qualified and experienced Realtor to achieve my goal.
Dan Zielinski is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at Metro MLS and Markt.