Buying a Home? This one is for you!

March 8th, 2012

We find that wedding planning is three parts fun and… well, one part overwhelming!  Our hope is always to guide our brides by recommending the professionals who are guaranteed to make their day spectacular.

We’ve seen a trend as of late with more of our bride and grooms also taking another BIG step in the midst of wedding planning by buying their first home. The good news? Our friend Mike Gifford has been our go-to Realtor for anyone who may be purchasing or selling a home. A lifelong resident of Richmond and University of Richmond graduate, Mike has been a professional real estate agent and Realtor since 2004. He’s an Associate Broker with Premier Properties Realties and works with home buyers from Dinwiddie to Powhatan, Caroline to Hopewell and everywhere in between!

We asked Mike to stop by today to share a bit of insight for our brides and grooms who may be trying to balance both home buying and wedding planning all at once. So without further ado, here’s Mike!

What should prospective buyers do to prepare themselves when they’ve decided it’s time to take the leap and buy a house?

The best place to start is to look at your finances and set a realistic monthly housing budget. If you’re renting, you have a pretty good idea of what you can afford and can add to that based on your comfort level and any changes you can project in the near future.  The next step is to call a Realtor! We make a great sounding board for helping you narrow down your preferences and sorting them into ‘Must Have’s’ and ‘Like To Have’s’. Plus we are involved with you at every step from loan application to home inspection to closing on the house so the sooner we establish a good rapport, the better!

What sort of questions should a prospective home buyer ask when interviewing realtors?

Buyers want to ask a Realtor about their qualifications, market knowledge of the buyer’s intended geographic area, their track record of representing buyers and how they will help the buyer find just the right home. Buyers should focus on how the agent communicates with them, do they feel like this agent will work for THEM and not work for a SALE. Establishing trust with a buyer is critical for an agent to help remove as much stress as possible throughout the process.  When a buyer asks their Realtor “What do you think?”, they have to feel confident that the Realtor is really standing in their shoes and looking out for the buyer one hundred percent. Realtors with an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) designation have taken the extra step to mastering buyer’s agency through education and proven experience.

We find that some of our HMM couples are planning a wedding AND buying their first home at the same time.  Any tips for managing it all from a real estate side?

Organization, planning and time management are important for both the right wedding experience and home buying experience. Both are major events for a couple and to combine them will give you twice the work but also twice the reward. Having a good team that understands your schedule and needs is critical to successfully making this work. The sooner you can get started with finding a home the better. The amount of your time needed to close on a home increases as the date approaches, having a Realtor who can do as much as possible on your behalf will help keep everything manageable. And sane!

Let’s talk about selling homes- what are some top tips you’d give people to get their house ready for a sale?

Get a Realtor involved as early in the process as possible! They can give you insight into market trends that may help determine what updates, cosmetic fixes and improvements you should focus and spend money on and which ones may not benefit the seller in the long run. Almost always my sellers need to start with de-cluttering and removing as much as they can from the house. Living in a home and showing a home for sale are not at all the same! What often seems bare and spartan to a seller will still look full and personalized to a buyer walking in the door. Keep in mind that many buyers are becoming accustomed to seeing empty, vacant houses, so when they walk in to one that is fully furnished, it can seem smaller and cluttered to that buyer. I give my sellers lists of showing and staging tips to reinforce what matters most to buyers.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Buying a home is an exciting next step for many newlyweds or about-to-be-newlyweds. While such a big step will always have its stressful moments, the right agent will prepare you for them in advance and have a solution for almost any situation that arises. All of the various market conditions at play right now make this one of the most opportune times in history to become a first time buyer, so if you’re considering home ownership, consult a Realtor!  I sit down with all buyers at the beginning to lay out the home buying process, the key timelines and milestones involved and how I will work FOR them. I find that effective and continuous communication with my buyers yields a win-win for me and them.

Thanks Mike for stopping by! Have more questions for our favorite Realtor? Visit his web site today or drop him a line at Mike@MikeGiffordHomes.com.

See You Soon,
Paula & Martin Ramirez

Paula and Martin Ramirez are the proprietors of Historic Mankin Mansion, a wedding resort and bed and breakfast just minutes from Downtown Richmond. They enjoy new restaurant finds, Virginia wines and discovering fun events and activities throughout the area for their guests.

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