Advice for First-Time Buyers

Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval

Knowing how much you can afford is the first step.  Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.  You’ll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range.

The second step is to get a Pre-Approval.  In this step the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender.  This is an advantage because when you make an offer on a home the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property.  Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.

Make two Lists: Needs & Wants

Know what items you must have such as number of bedrooms.  Then make a list of things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that aren’t absolutely necessary.  Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably won’t get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you’re looking for.

Representation by a Professional

Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.  In most situations the seller of the property pays the real estate commission and the services of a professional real estate agent are free to the buyer.

Focus on Searching for your dream home:  Some items to keep handy:

  • One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
  • Files of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you’ve cut out from the newspaper.
  • Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you’re attending a series of showings.

Take notes on the properties you have visited.  Some things to consider:

  • Look at a potential property as if you are the seller.  Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, etc.
  • Proximity to positive items such as shopping, parks, freeway access and negative items such as abandoned properties, high voltage power lines, source of noise.
  • Visualize the house empty & with your decor:  Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs?  Is there enough light?

Don’t make a hurried decision that you may regret later:

  • Think with your head not your heart.  Does this home really meet your needs?
  • Be Thorough:  A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run.

Don’t forget the essentials:

  • Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
  • Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
  • Request a second walk-through to take place between 3 days to 24 hours of closing.  You want to check to see that no changes have been made that weren’t agreed on and that items in the sales contract are completed.

All the above may seem rather overwhelming.  That is why selecting the right real estate agency to represent you and keep track of all the details is an important part of the buying process.  Our real estate agents have assisted hundreds of buyers in finding the home of their dreams.  Contact us to arrange for a meeting with an agent to go over the entire buying process.  There is no obligation and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have.