Beginning the search for your first home can be quite intimidating. Below are 5 tips for 1st time home buyers that have made purchasing a home easier for many of my clients.
1) Find a real estate agent
In California most of the closing costs related with the sale of a home, including real estate commissions, are paid by the seller. The buyer is not responsible for paying their real estate agent, so it makes the most sense to find an agent who works in the area you are looking in. The internet has changed the face of real estate because so much information is at the buyers fingertips, but in today’s fast moving market there is a lot that goes into securing a property and successfully closing the deal. Connect with a Realtor early in your search to help educate and assist you with the process.
2) Get pre-qualified with a lender
Most first time home buyers are so excited to get out and look at homes, that they miss an important step in the process. With how fast homes are selling and the fact that many listings sell with multiple offers, getting pre-qulaified is a must. A lender will help you figure out what you can afford and hone in on a price range that will create a mortgage payment you feel comfortable with. A lender will also provide you with a pre-qualification letter that your real estate agent will present with your offer so the seller knows you can qualify to purchase their home. Even though your first inclination is to get out and look at homes, you don’t want to be looking above your price range and most importantly you do not want to find your dream home and lose out because you were not prepared.
3) Don’t get distracted by staging
In today’s market staging has become very popular. Whether you are a first time home buyer or a seasoned veteran, you will be experiencing many feelings when looking at homes. Staging often takes your eye off the bones of the house and points them toward furniture and accessories that are not included in the sale of the home. Be sure to look at the details of home: the flooring, appliances, lighting, exterior, landscaping, etc. I have heard many a story of a buyer purchasing a staged home and after the close it felt like a different home and they ended up with a lot more work to do than they thought.
4) Look past the cosmetics and focus on the things you can’t change
Everyone has heard that real estate is all about “location, location, location.” As corny as that sounds, I often find my clients focused on ugly paint colors, stucco cracks, wall paper, window coverings, and other cosmetic features. These are very important to consider because fixing/upgrading items such as these can be costly, but they can be fixed. A house that needs some TLC but has great location and bones might be dull, but a remodeled property next to the freeway or under the power lines will always be in a questionable location. In Southern California so much of what we are paying for in a home is the land itself, so a nice lot & location is a worthy investment because it offers you the ability to add on in the future and will hold its value better then the structure and improvements.
5) Be open
It’s a good practice when starting your search to write down all your wants and needs, but be open to viewing homes that may land outside of your wish list. I have had many clients that were looking for something very specific and then I convinced them to take a look at a home that didn’t check all of their boxes and they loved it. If your agent has a home that they wants you to see, trust them. If you are open-minded sometimes your house will find you.