Arielle Samuels had wanted to purchase a home for years. When she came across a new development in the works, she embarked on the home buying process with no realtor. Here's what she learned.
I always wanted to purchase a home; oddly enough been more of a focus than a marriage. I’d walk around furniture stores and envision how I would decorate. In 2015 I was renting with a roommate in Washington, D.C., and she ended up moving out because she purchased the place, and I stayed in the apartment. But that inspired me to look.
There's a ton of real estate development going on here and interest rates weren't too crazy so I was looking for a one bedroom condo and I could probably find that for about 250-270,000. Now, it's probably low to mid three hundreds.
Wait until you're ready
I had actually started the journey back in 2014 and even got a realtor. But then I kind of just came to the realization that like I just didn't feel financially ready. I was still struggling with credit card debt. So I ended up getting another roommate and that helped to kind of reenergize my savings plan so I was able to save enough money that I felt would be workable for a down payment.
Broaden your search
Then one day, I was driving to like Target which is in Hyattsville, Maryland, and I happened to see a model for a new development coming in mid-2018. It was a good location, like 10 minutes from the airport, and the idea of getting a townhouse for what I would pay for one bedroom than DC kind of seemed like a better financial decision. So I put my name on the VIP list for notifications and news about the project.
Make use of resources available
I knew I wanted to get ready for the buying process, so I started this program called NACA Choice. It's for those who don't feel that they have the financial means to purchase, so they work with you. You have to prove that you can pay the mortgage on a monthly basis, but then when you do get approved for the program it's a no down payment, no closing costs, significantly lower interest rate. To get through the program is tedious, though. You're printing out your credit card statements and they're looking every month at what you're spending. After two or three appointments, I was like, this is way too much right now—but it did help me to start saving.
Lean on your network
In March, 2018, I got an email that construction was progressing on the development, so I reached out to a friend who had purchased a townhome and also didn't use a realtor. She said she didn't think a realtor would add much value, because it's a new construction. She also mentioned that there might even me an advantage because sometimes not using a realtor will help with your negotiating standpoint since then the seller isn't having to give commission to the realtor. So I thought, hey, it's doable.
When I went to the first appointment for the sales meeting, I actually brought my best friend. I did feel a little rushed during the sales process, and when I was picking out finishes and everything since it's new development. I probably could have come more prepared with what I wanted— it would have been nice to feel a little bit more reassured all the selections I made are really what I wanted, as opposed to like, just not knowing all.
Know the pros and cons of your type of purchase
I would say the biggest pro of buying new development is I knew the property was exactly what I wanted. But the biggest con is definitely the delivery time. I understand now that it's a common occurrence for delivery dates to move and for developers to kind of underestimate. So that was really tough for expectation management.
The other thing was I didn't have to go through the home inspection process which I think probably would have been pretty stressful, so you do get to kind of streamline, a bit of the home buying process.
I kind of compare a realtor to a wedding planner, you know, they are coordinating everything and kind of also acting like a sounding board, a therapist, So you just have to know you can fill those roles in other ways. And now that I've done it, I'm giving advice to some of my friends who are buying, so I'm kind of doing that.