As a way to better serve our couples and families, over the next few months I will be highlighting and interviewing a few of our favorite people in the community who directly impact the new life of a young couple or family. I want to ask them why they love what they do, some tips for couples navigating this new territory and pitfalls that can be avoided.
The first in the community series is none other than Matt Polinchak from Live Raleigh Realty. I met Matt almost 2 years ago when I was still baking at BREW Coffee Bar and we became instant friends. I wasn't able to learn about his business without immediately discovering his love for the community and desire to help people who are dealing with life transitions. He told me about how hard it can be for young couples to transition out of their apartments (or parents homes) into a new home with their new spouse and about what he does to ensure a smooth transition.
Matt really cares for the people he works with and does his best to help them make the best decisions for them. I wish he'd been around when A.J. and I bought our first house at 21 years old, still in undergrad. He would have told us it was a terrible decision and for our lifestyle and uncertain future, renting would have been better. Alas, we made some poor choices due to peer pressure and have since dealt with the consequences, but I know Matt and so many other great friends in the community will be there for us when we're ready to make that decision again. In the meantime, here's a few questions I asked him to help you navigate this part of your journey.
Q. Before we get started, what makes you love real estate so much?
A. I just really love helping people. I have been a REALTOR for over 6 years now, but before that, I used to be a 3rd Grade teacher here in Downtown Raleigh. I try to serve my clients with the heart of a teacher and one who is looking out for my client's best interest, not my own. Buying a home can be stressful and so it's important to educate and break down the buying process for each of my clients, one step at a time. By breaking it down, the process is much easier to digest. They are about to make one of the most important decisions of their life and I get to be part of the process. How awesome is that!?!
Q. Do you suggest a newlywed couple rent or buy their first home?
A. That's such a hard question because every couple is different. Each couple has their own personal, financial, and lifestyle goals, as well as determining their current financial situation. Some couples like to find a home first to plant roots and then get engaged or married later. Some prefer to wait until after they are married and start off renting. There really isn't one right answer. The most important thing any couple can do though is communicate and make the time to discuss any thoughts, ideas or questions they may have.
Q. So what discussions and questions should couples have before making the decision to buy or rent?
A. Just like a planning a wedding, I feel that it's so important to communicate financial, personal and lifestyle goals. Purchasing a home is a big decision and you both need to be on the same page. If one person is committed to the process and the other is not, that can be very frustrating and stressful for everyone. Here are just some of the important questions couples should discuss: What do our finances look like? Is it cheaper to rent/buy? How does purchasing a home affect our lifestyle? How important is location to us? What's important to you/us with our 1st home? If you decide to rent, how can we put together a plan to save money and on the flip side, if we decide to purchase, do we have enough money saved for the down payment and other fees involved? How long do we plan on renting or if we decide to buy a home, how long do we anticipate living in that home? There are some who never want to purchase a home and that's okay too.
Q. Once making the decision to move forward and buy, what's the first thing the couple should do to start the process?
A. The first thing I do to help potential clients is sit down with them and provide to them a Buyer Consultation. We talk about their goals: Both financial and lifestyle, to make sure we are all on the same page. We go over their Wants/Needs List for the home they hope to purchase. Then I talk to them about what the process looks like moving forward, including any up front costs involved, when they go under contract on a home. Lastly, we go over expectations we may have for each other. I think that last part gets overlooked the most. Expectations are so important and should be communicated early and often. The buying process is about YOU and YOUR wants and needs. It's not about me.
Q. After meeting with you for the consultation, what do you encourage couples to do next?
A. If they haven't talked to a mortgage lender yet, that is the most important thing to do. In order to purchase a home, a seller is going to want to know if you have been pre-qualified by a lender. Getting pre-qualified is so important because it not only helps you understand the process better, but you can also ask them any questions about different loan programs and what your mortgage payment will be at a certain price point, which is very helpful. You don't want to waste time looking at homes you cannot afford because they can be deflating and at the same time, a lot of people are surprised they can afford more than what they originally thought.
If they have already been pre-qualified, then comes the fun part- If they are ready, we get to start looking at homes!
Q. What are the biggest hurdles couples come across when looking for a home?
A. I think the initial discussions are the most challenging. You have two people coming together with possibly different views on what's important regarding finances/money, details of a home, location, etc. and so naturally it can be difficult at first. Each person also has a different comfort level when it comes to making important or financial decisions. However, it's better to have those conversations before and throughout the process.
We are also in a very strong real estate market here in the Triangle and it can be competitive. Buyers are having to compete with other buyers over homes. That's why it's so crucial discussing expectations with your real estate agent or when you're interviewing one, to find out what's currently happening and what to expect regarding the real estate market in particular to their wants/needs
As you can see, Matt really cares for this community and wants nothing more than to see the people in it thrive and fall deeply in love with their city. If you're considering buying a home, you should definitely give him a call, he'll be happy to help you work through the process!