Buying a home is a huge undertaking, and a big financial one. So, as a first time buyer here are the 8 essential things to do in order to have a good experience and be successful.
And if you are an experienced buyer I bet you will find these strategies helpful to you as well!!
#1 – GET ALL YOUR PAPERWORK IN ORDER
Lenders require a lot of paperwork and documentation these days, and you may be shocked at how much. Getting you paperwork in order before you get started will make your job easier, and faster. At a minimum your documentation should include recent bank statements (ALL Pages, even the blank ones), recent pay stubs, details about all loans including account numbers, balances and phone numbers, and the 2 most recent years of taxes.
#2 – GET PRE-APPROVED WITH A GOOD LENDER
Most buyers need financing and it’s critical to find out right up front how much you can afford before getting starting on a home search. That includes not only the loan but interest, taxes and other costs that are part of your monthly housing expense. Make sure you are comfortable with your lender and that you get all your questions answered.
Pay attention to your personal budget, too. You may qualify for a bigger loan than you actually want to spend when you look at the monthly payment versus how you budget for other things.
#3 – WORK WITH A QUALIFIED REALTOR®
While there is plenty of information at your disposal on the Internet, and you will likely also get advice from friends and family, you need a trusted, knowledgeable REALTOR® to answer all your questions, educate you, guide you through the process, and help you find solutions to problems. Your agent is there to watch our for YOUR financial interest, negotiate on your behalf, and help you make the best decision…something your friend, neighbor, or the listing agent cannot do.
#4 – BE SURE TO ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
Don’t be shy about asking questions, even the simple ones. You are new at this and there’s so much you don’t know, and there may be things that are confusing, terminology you don’t understand, and more. No doubt you’ll find you have questions you didn’t even know you had.
#5 – DETERMINE WHAT YOU NEED IN YOUR HOME
You can’t effectively search for a home if you don’t have a good idea about what you need. Did you see I said “what you need?” It’s not unusual for buyers to have a long wish list of things they ‘d like to have, but may not have considered what’s really important, or essential. It’s OK to dream a bit but keep in mind there will be trade-offs. And it will be impossible to find everything you want.
Consider, also, the community and local neighborhood. The house is important but your lifestyle is as well. And keep in mind those deal killers…the things that would make you walk away.
#6 – LEARN AND UNDERSTAND THE LOCAL MARKET CONDITIONS
One of the better known truths about the housing market is that “Real estate is local.” The local market conditions may impact you in a big way – the amount of inventory available to you that fits your budget, competition from buyers who desire the same thing you do, pricing, your offer strategy, and how your agent will negotiate your offer.
I recommend that you do your research thoroughly. Finding a new home really IS like having a second full-time job, or at least a part-time one. Online research and looking at homes will give you a better idea about the housing market, home values, and also help you better define your needs.
But the most reliable source of information about the local market conditions and HOW these can impact you is your REALTOR®. Not the media, your best friend, your family or your neighbors. See #4 – ask LOTS of questions! And if your Realtor won’t or can’t answer them, find another agent to help you!
#7 – BECOME THOROUGHLY AWARE OF THE COSTS OF BUYING A HOME
You will find there are many costs associated with buying a new home. Of course the primary cost is the price of the house and your loan. But there are costs during the due diligence phase after you have an accepted offer (e.g., home inspection), the down-payment, and closing costs required by the lender and escrow.
#8 – HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
As a first time buyer you need to take buying a home very seriously. Plus you need to be committed to a number of things to be successful: research; asking questions; getting financially prepared; spending the time to look at homes and neighborhoods; to the purchase process itself; and working closely with your REALTOR®.
Keep in mind your first home will not be your dream home, and you are not likely to be in that home forever. Expect that you will need to make some trade-offs, and you will probably find there are issues about the house that you are not in love with. Remain focused on your long-term goal – buying your first home!
It’s also important to remain positive, which can be tough in our competitive market, and when you are not finding that home you want as quickly as you expected. Bear in mind it may take some time to find the right house. And some buyers have to make more than one offer before they are successful. DON’T GIVE UP! Your REALTOR® will be able to help with this.
If I can help in any way, please give me a call at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your housing needs and questions, and get you into a new Carlsbad home.