Think You Don’t Need a Realtor? 3

You Might Want to Think Again

Shopping for homes online through virtual tours and 3-D modeling programs is becoming increasingly popular, and is definitely the wave of the future. It’s a great way to “prescreen” your potential new home, especially if your current digs are too far away to make shopping in person practical at first. In fact, about 96 percent of potential home-buyers go online first to research and look at possibilities.

Once you’re serious about relocating, however, nothing replaces the benefits obtained by working with a local professional Realtor who knows the crucial, ever-changing details that will impact your quality of life far beyond the new home’s walls, says Loren Coburn, real estate broker and owner of RE/MAX Elite in Norman.

“When I start working with clients I get to know people on a personal level; that lets me match the person to the home,” Coburn said. “Depending on what they’ve already established up front, as a Realtor you start by showing them variety all over, and then you start narrowing it down to a town, the size of the home, the quality, the features and such.”

Just as you would with any other major purchase in life, “When people use a Realtor, they’re using a professional, and you’re going to get things you wouldn’t get without that,” Coburn added. “The No. 1 thing, of course, being customer service. As Realtors we live and breathe the local community, and we give clients the personal touch of knowing the area and the homes and being able to answer all their questions.”

First-time homebuyers, in particular, may not think about anything but the house itself, when in fact that’s only one piece of the entire picture. A good Realtor will know the surrounding neighborhood, schools, long-term city development plans, local issues, activities, events and any other pieces of information that impact on your family’s quality of life beyond the purchase date.

For instance, Norman’s dual identity as both a metro commuter suburb and home to the state’s largest university give it a unique “big town/small town” feel, due to the ebb and flow as the students leave town between semesters. This is a combination that gives it–and the surrounding Cleveland County–an appeal that reaches out to all types of prospective home buyers. Even with the internet, many who are just moving to the area have no idea what’s available, which neighborhoods are the best fit for them, or they learn in-depth details that influence their decision.

Once a home is selected, the purchase process is when working with a professional can literally pay for itself. “As a Realtor, I’m going to be able to break down the purchase for them and take the lead in the negotiating process, which really takes the pressure off the client,” Coburn said. “We serve as that middle person, and we can make a big difference in negotiating lower closing costs, etc.

“Many people who are on the fence about buying make that decision when they realize that they’re either paying their own mortgage or they’re paying someone else’s mortgage,” he added.

It’s been a few years now, but CNN’s Money Magazine in 2006 named Norman as one of its Top 10 mid-size “Best Places to Live.” Regardless of what town you select, however, when it comes to an individual home, nothing cements the choice like an in-person visit.

So how do you know when you’ve found “the one”? According to Coburn, it can be a bit like falling in love. “What I have found,” he said, “is that when they’re buying the biggest investment of their life, when people drive up to it, they usually know.”

Loren Coburn was the Realtor broker who sold the 3,645-square-foot luxury home in Cleveland County depicted in the accompanying photos. Home and photos by Jeana Malone Prater with CB/Carousel Realty.