Medical residents and physicians have unique needs that can make finding and closing on a new home more tricky. It’s important to work with a physician realtor who understands what relocating doctors need.
For example, many young physicians have a negative net worth due to six-figure medical school debt and limited savings for a conventional down payment. Additionally, residents and fellows might only need a home for a few years before uprooting their lives again.
A good physician realtor won’t shy away from leveraging the benefits of a physician mortgage loan, despite some sellers' apprehension to accept a $0 down offer. Their specialized knowledge can help guide you through all stages of the home-buying process while recognizing physician-specific issues that most real estate agents are unaware of.
Why residents should use a physician realtor
Although your residency program is temporary, it still dictates the next four years (or more) of your life. If you have a spouse or children, you might prefer the stability of owning a home versus renting. But owning your first home can seem like a pipe dream as a med school graduate with tons of student debt and without enough savings for a 20% down payment for a conventional loan.
If you want to buy a home during residency, it’s in your best interest to work with a real estate agent who knows the local housing market and understands the needs of a physician and their family.
Depending on your residency or fellowship program, there might be a go-to physician realtor. In this case, you can save a lot of time researching and interviewing real estate agents by using your program’s recommendation.
But here’s the deal. There’s no way to know if they’re actually good at their job. Maybe there’s some nepotism at play, and they’re related to the residency program coordinator. Conversely, perhaps they’ve sweet-talked their way in, but their results don’t necessarily match their silver tongue.
Alternatively, they could be great at their job but busy due to being in high demand with the medical community.
You’ll want to do some homework and feel out potential physician realtors to find the right fit.
Pros of working with a physician realtor
Physician realtors can help you find the home of your dreams while addressing challenges specific to residents and practicing physicians. A good physician realtor can hit the mark in a few ways.
They can explain the exclusive features of physician mortgage loans
A physician realtor should be comfortable answering questions about physician home loans and other low down payment options to help you make an informed decision.
By sticking with a conventional mortgage, you could miss out on 100% financing, no private mortgage insurance (PMI) and loan limits in the $750,000 to $2 million range — among other program benefits.
They present a $0 down offer in a positive light to maintain competitiveness
Many realtors don’t understand physician loans or how to position them. For example, a $0 down offer can sometimes look weaker than other offers. Therefore, some sellers may overlook it without understanding the context behind it.
A good physician realtor knows how to keep the offer competitive and work with the seller’s agent to communicate why you’re a strong candidate.
They provide guidance for physician-specific needs
A physician realtor analyzes the market for your needs. This might include showing properties that can sell quickly when your residency is complete. It also includes understanding neighborhood characteristics and individual location needs.
For example, many residents and attendings prefer to live close to the hospital for convenience. But you might prioritize good schools or safety if you have a family considering you may not be home often due to your schedule.
They’re more familiar with physicians' financial situations
Medical school debt is no joke. MDs and DOs often graduate with balances in the $300,000+ range or more just for med school. Most are starting their careers with a negative net worth.
Realtors who regularly work with physicians understand that residents will have a steady income during the early stages of their career with the potential for high lifetime earnings.
Additionally, they regularly deal with higher dollar listings that appeal to the physician lifestyle.
They connect you with reputable physician-specific lenders and other professionals
A good physician realtor has a network of lenders and service providers to connect you with. This might include home inspection services, surveyors, title companies, attorneys, repair companies and more.
But recommendations should be just that — recommendations. Be cautious about realtors pushing their preferred options, such as a specific mortgage broker. Strong incentives exist for mutually exclusive referrals between realtors and preferred mortgage lenders.
Like all financial decisions, it’s best to use referrals as a starting point and shop around to compare services.
Cons of using a physician realtor
There are a lot of potential benefits to working with a knowledgeable physician realtor. That said, you might run into some common barriers if you prefer to work with a physician realtor, such as:
- Having a smaller pool of good realtors to choose from.
- High-demand specialized realtors could have limited availability.
- Physician-specific realtors might be concentrated in certain areas.
- Specialty-specific doesn’t automatically translate to better service.
Finding a physician realtor who’s readily available for your needs might prove difficult if you’re in a high-demand area. Additionally, working with a physician realtor doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’re tapping into an experienced source who’ll come prepared.
How to connect with a physician realtor
There aren’t physician realtors who work exclusively with physicians. Instead, you’re looking for a real estate agent with proven experience serving medical professionals.
Unlike mortgage lenders, the real estate agent business tends to be more locally focused. So, finding a realtor with physician-specific knowledge can be more challenging.
We can help connect you with a physician realtor in your area. Email hello(at)studentloanplanner(dot)com for an introduction.
Choosing the right physician realtor for your needs
You don’t want to hire a realtor arbitrarily just because your residency program or hospital made a blanket recommendation. Getting input from others and comparing options serves you best.
Here are some tips to help find a good physician realtor:
- Research and compare realtors. Ask for recommendations from colleagues and friends. Check online reviews and testimonials.
- Interview realtors before hiring. Ask questions about physician loans and the local real estate market. See if your communication styles match to assess compatibility. Get a feel for their workload to gauge if they’ll be available for showings and late-night questions.
- Understand real estate services and fees. Evaluate the range of relocation services offered compared to what you need. Recognize how they make their commission and what they’re willing to do to earn it.
Ultimately, you want someone who protects you during the home-buying process. Often, you’ll know immediately if someone isn’t the right fit. Trust your gut instinct, and don’t hesitate to find a new realtor if your needs aren’t being met.
Use a physician realtor for your next home purchase
The right realtor has a genuine understanding of the struggles physicians go through and their preferences in a home (e.g., convenient location, fast turnaround for selling, etc.). They should have experience buying and selling homes for physicians and can devote the time to execute meaningful research on your behalf.
You might find this person through your residency program or hospital. But you might also have to do some legwork to find the perfect physician realtor for you.
If you’ve found your ideal physician realtor, make sure to shop around for a physician mortgage loan. Fill out the form below, and we can connect you with a mortgage lender in your area.