10 Tips for First-Time Luxury Homebuyers
Today’s luxury homebuyers have an array of options in Central Texas, making it challenging to know where and how to enter the market. With the following 10 realty tips, however, you’ll get up to speed in no time on the process, what you need to consider and on whom you can count for help.
1. Define “luxury” in your own terms.
For some, luxurious living takes place in a modestly-sized, well-appointed downtown condominium near high-end restaurants and cultural amenities in the heart of the city. For others, luxury finds a home in a sprawling, multi-level spread with state-of-the-art tech on acreage miles away from the nearest neighbors.
By identifying what the luxury home category means to you personally, you’ll save time on your property search. Think through, too, the aesthetics, appliances, landscaping, views, storage options, security features and home technology with which you’d like to surround yourself. These particulars will form your new home wish list alongside details like desired total square footage and an ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
2. Know what you want — and where you want to be.
Today’s luxury homes may be clustered together with similar properties or stand out among a sea of other condos. Options abound. What works best for each aspiring homebuyer is largely determined by their unique circumstances, including the kinds of nearby green spaces, museums, restaurants, shopping, business districts, highways and schools they seek to be near.
Yes, “location, location, location” is critical in the luxury home market, too.
With a clear picture in mind of how much time you’re willing to spend driving or walking each week to reach the places you plan to routinely visit, you’ll be better prepared to target your search to an ideal location.
»Tip: Planning to purchase a luxury vacation rental? You also might want to consider proximity to rental agencies to ensure that you’ll be able to secure consistent caretaking.
3. Build a budget.
Even if you’re fortunate to have ample money to spend on a new home, it’s worth identifying how much you’re actually willing to spend on a down payment and on a monthly mortgage. With a preliminary target amount in mind, you’ll be better prepared to conduct an efficient property search.
4. Get acquainted online with the market.
Researching properties online or in local publications featuring luxury homes is a fun way for buyers to get their feet wet in a local market. With gorgeous photography and vivid descriptions, an online hunt prompts you to ask “What if…?” in ways that can help you refine your wish list and your budget to move you closer to finding a home that you’ll love.
Yet it’s worth noting that many high-end homes are sold quietly, with little or no evidence of the transaction. Perhaps it’s because the seller craves privacy. Or maybe it’s because a buyer’s agent caught wind of a possible sale during a charity event and knew a client interested in the neighborhood and advised their client to put forth an offer to the seller.
5. Select a real estate agent.
As the above scenario illustrates, a well-connected realty professional who specializes in the luxury market can be a tremendous resource. Not only do they know their local markets, but also they have access to area Multiple Listing Services (MLS) that can reveal options that may not make it onto popular real estate websites.
A trustworthy agent can take a lot of the legwork out of your search by:
- Scheduling property viewings
- Contacting a listing agent to get more information about a home
- Helping prepare a viable offer and delivering it to the seller’s agent
- Coordinating with a title company regarding closing
Plus, experienced luxury real estate agents in particular often work in circles where they may hear of upcoming listings, new high-end developments or other opportunities days, weeks or months before anyone else. That can give buyers a competitive advantage, especially when a market is hot.
6. Secure a preapproval.
The price point on luxury properties can vary widely by region, so it’s conceivable that you may seek to purchase a home using a Conventional loan. For financing that exceeds the limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), you may want to consider a Jumbo or VA Jumbo loan.
Whichever option you choose, it’s worth securing a preapproval or prequalification letter from a mortgage loan company that specializes in the unique concerns of luxury buyers. This will help demonstrate to sellers the viability of any offer you may make on a property as your home search advances.
7. Visit properties in person.
Luxury real estate photographs online and in print magazines, although captivating, can prove misleading in real life. They may make a living room or master suite seem much larger than it actually is, and they certainly can’t relay the distracting highway noise that may permeate an otherwise perfect property.
By seeing a potential new home in person, you’ll get a better sense of what it might be like to dwell there. Depending upon your first-hand experience with any property, it may move up or down on your list of possibilities. So if you’re truly interested in a listing, it’s worth asking your real estate agent to make arrangements to view it.
8. Consider resale value.
All homes are an investment, but this is all the more true for luxury properties. Although you may not always plan to move from a new place, the reality is that life — like real estate markets and economies — tends to bring changes. And while you cannot plan for possible scenarios, it might be wise to think through how a property might do if you had to resell it.
Some homes and neighborhoods are a fairly safe bet, maintaining their value and appeal for years or even decades. Others may present a bit more of a risk. If you’re curious but struggle to know what to consider, bring the matter up to your agent. With knowledge of the local market, they may give you helpful insights.
9. Prepare to negotiate.
Although they often take place in the context of big emotions, all home sales are fundamentally business transactions. Buyers and sellers can have conflicting goals, competing points of view and clashing preferred timelines.
When it comes to luxury properties, it’s also not unusual to encounter sellers who work in professions where being a tough customer has paid off quite handsomely. They may bring that same tenacity to their real estate transactions.
Fortunately, an experienced real estate agent — one who knows the ins and outs of working in the luxury market — can help you negotiate the fine points of an offer successfully.
10. Practice patience.
Buying a home is a big commitment, a journey that is often punctuated by at least one or two surprises. Maybe it’s a seller who simply will not budge on their asking price, even though the property has been available for months. Or perhaps, even after trimming your wish list down to the bare minimum, you still can’t find what you want in an existing property and discover that only a new build will do.
Patience can be a real asset, one that can get you through the search to closing day feeling confident in your choices. If you do find yourself feeling frustrated, talk your concerns over with your real estate agent. Odds are good that they’ve helped other people work through similar situations and emotions, too. Whether they offer a listening ear or help you develop an action strategy, you may be able to rest a little easier knowing someone is by your side.
Are you planning to buy (or sell) a property in Central Texas soon? Count on RBFCU’s preferred real estate partner, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, to help you move beyond your expectations by providing an extraordinary real estate experience.
Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.
Last updated July 2023.
Kuper Realty Holding Company, LLC dba Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty is a subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph‑Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU).