Talk with everyone you trust!
The best place to begin is talk with your friends, family, and co-workers about their experiences. (Since you don't have a point of reference yet, this will help you determine if you are getting good service.) "First time home buyer" workshops are nice but those are set up as business development farms for the service provider(s). I can put you in touch with a friend/client who recently bought his first place...415.515.6097.
Ask friends or coworkers who they enjoyed working with or choose from any of us Trulia agents.
It's not a bad idea to sit down with 1 or 2 agents who appeal to you to see how they work and with whom you feel most comfortable. Local experience, ability to understand your needs, and interest in helping first time buyers would be some of the qualities I'd be looking for if I was in your position.
I, for one, am happy to discuss your situation with you and see if I can help. Also, I personally know many of the local San Francisco agents who already responded. You'd be in good hands with any of them, no doubt!
Good luck! It's an awesome time to be a first time buyer between the easier market conditions and the new 1st time buyer loan programs available. I just blogged about this exact topic. See below.
There are many moving parts and pieces to a real estate transaction, so it's good to arm yourself with basic knowledge as you get started. Buying a home requires planning, research and knowledge of things like property types, making an offer, loan programs, et cetera. While I agree that buying a book is a great way to get started, I would urge you to make contact with people as well.
Realtors who are passionate about real estate and working with buyers will love helping you learn about the process. These are the kinds of agents that offer seminars or who are willing to meet with you one on one to help you develop a strategy. I prefer round table style seminars for first time buyers, where you can ask your own questions and customize the experience for yourself.
You probably know that using a Realtor as a buyer is FREE. It's true, too, that bringing all of the moving parts and pieces together requires some effort. For these two reasons I think it's valuable to find someone who you can trust and enjoy working with.
I would strongly advise, too, that you meet with a finance person as soon as possible. Having come from the mortgage industry I may be biased, but I believe that your first step should be to measure your financial fitness. This might sound like a lot to do, but I think you'll find that all good agents here in SF are well connected to competent finance people.
My finance partner and I do our seminars together. I'd be happy to arrange something for you. Alternatively, ask home owners you know what they would suggest. They may even have relationships with agents they trust.
Good luck! I know how exciting this process can be. Take your time, put a good plan together and I think you'll have a great experience.
Urban Bay Properties
Feel free to attend a free first time home buyer seminar. You can RSVP to the date that fits your schedule best under http://myteamsf.com/seminar.php. The next one is September 15th.
You will find a great overview from financing options to disclosures and how to make an offer.
I hope this helps and as always feel free to ask more questions.
Best, Tanja from MyteamSF
We just did a blog re. NY first time buyer programs- even if you have an income that exceeds the requirement, checking out loan programs offered in California might be a good start. There's good info on the California site.
There are plenty of websites, blogs and books (a few of my clients SWEAR by the book "Home Buying for Dummies" that can help you get started, but ultimately, you'll want to talk to a REALTOR about the home buying process in your area (forunately there are hundreds of fabulous REALTORS in SF!) and to a lender about the loan process (ask a friend that had a good experience or your REALTOR for a referral.)
As professionals, we can really tell you what to expect in your market, your budget, your neighborhoods of choice, etc. Every buyer has different needs in terms of buying and financing and to really get a good handle on how the process will work for YOU, turn to the pros. (Just make sure your "pro" really is a professional and isn't a "part-time" agent or lender - the information they give you can be down right dangerous.)
Good luck with your home search! :-)
Here is a link to the Federal Housing Admistration site. http://portal.hud.gov
Hit the consumer link on the left side and you can learn more about the process. At the bottom left corner is another link How to Buy. Click on it. I worked as a Loan Officer for many years and am currently a Realtor. If you would like me to explain the process and all of the available options, I can help you.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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