Home Buying in Charleston>Question Details

Trulia, Other/Just Looking in San Francisco, CA

What are some tips for first-time home buyers?

Asked by Trulia, San Francisco, CA Sun Mar 4, 2012

Can you share some of your top advice or tips for home buyers?

Help the community by answering this question:


1. Check the selling prices of comparable homes in your area. You can do a quick search of actual MLS listings in your area on a number of Web sites.

2. See what you can afford. Use bank websites mortgage calculators to see what your payment would be.

3. Find out what your total monthly housing cost would be, including taxes and homeowners insurance. To get an idea of what you'll pay in insurance, pick a property in the area where you want to live and make a call to a local insurance agent for an estimate. You won't be obligated to get the insurance, but you'll have a good idea of what you'll pay if you buy. For an idea of what you'll pay in taxes, Zillow.com publishes property-tax information for homes all over the country.

4. Find out how much you'll likely pay in closing costs. The upfront cost of settling on your home shouldn't be overlooked. Closing costs include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance or homeowners association fees.

5. Look at your budget and determine how a house fits into it. Talk to reputable real-estate agent such as myself.

6. Remember to look at the big picture. While buying a house is a great way to build wealth, maintaining your investment can be labor-intensive and expensive. When unexpected costs for new appliances, roof repairs and plumbing problems crop up, there's no landlord to turn to, and these costs can drain your bank account.
So consider whether you're ready for the expense and effort of homeownership before pulling the trigger.
11 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
Tip #1: Get yourself a knowledgeable Realtor who listens to you and understands your needs. Tip #2: Be very clear about what you can afford and how much you can borrow. Your Realtor will tell you upfront to speak to a/your lender before even thinking about looking at properties. (And be certain this lender is reputable, qualified, and well-established - probably not an online entitiy for your first go around.) Doing this will result in a much more positive buying experience - one with no (or few) surprises. As a pre-approved buyer you will be much more educated about your monthly payment and exactly how much to expect the buying process to cost. Good luck with the process. With the right resources around you, it can be very rewarding!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 7, 2012
I agree that getting pre-qualified is an important 1st step, but often first-time home buyers don't really know HOW to get pre-qualified. Even though online loan calculators will help you get some idea what your basic principal & interest monthly payment would be - for a certain loan amount at a certain interest rate - but there is a whole lot MORE to determining what price home you are qualified to buy. In most cases, your total monthly house payment will include the principal & interest on the loan, plus 1/12 of your yearly homeowner's insurance premium, and 1/12 of the yearly taxes on the property you buy, and if you have less than a 20% down payment -1/12 of the yearly premium for mortgage insurance. Mortgage lenders qualify you as a buyer, not only based on your income in relation to house payment & but also based on your other monthly long term payment obligations, what amount of money you have available for down payment, & of course your current credit score. It's a lot to grasp, and can be sort of mind-boggling for first-time home buyers, so in my opinion the FIRST thing you should do is find an experienced Realtor who you feel comfortable working with, and discuss your situation. An experienced Realtor will be able to explain more about the qualifying process, and answer many questions you may have about buying a home. And, if you don't already have a loan officer in mind for your mortgage (or know how to find one), the agent can also give you the names & contact info of a few loan officers who are also experienced in, or specialize in, helping first-time homeowners. This is important too, since loan officers who are experienced in working with first-time home buyers will not only help you determine specifically what you can realistically expect to buy, but will also help determine if you are eligible for various special loan programs, some available only to first-time home buyers, that may offer you some special financial benefits.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Get pre-qualified with a lender and have him figure out your price point.
Get a realtor to set you up with a search on the MLS for exactly what you're looking for.
Stay off consumer websites like Trulia and Realtor.com that have many listings that are already under contract.
Start looking at homes with a Realtor that knows the market.
Read through my buying guide on my website.
Web Reference: http://charlestonhoLmes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Before you go out looking at homes, I always suggest to get Pre-approved. You need to know your comfort level in mortgage payment, no guessing. This way your Buyer Agent can show you only homes that fit that payment and lower if there is a diamond in the rough out there. Any Realtor who goes out showing you homes without that consideration to you is a realtor who does not do any business and hopes for the best.

Once this is done then you can sit down with your realtor and give him your specifications to come as close as possible to that dream home. Make a good decision and NEVER rush !!!. Any realtor who tries to get you to sign contracts right away you need to back off. Today I helped a client write a contract on a new home after 2 weeks of touring and wrote only becuase they said this is the one. New built and then did my part to negotiate better price from the builder and get them blinds,garage door opener and 1500 dollars more in closing costs by giving up some of my commission to help them out. Remember there will always be good deals. Maybe that day that is the deal of a lifetime but your not ready, then don't. You will feel when it's time. Next week guess what, another deal of a lifetime pops up. Control your spending during the loan process is always suggested. No major purchases til your in your home. That New Truck may cost you a new home !!
If more info is needed feel free to email me at louisrusso@bellsouth.net Thank you !!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
Quick tip. Work with a Realtor who specializes in first time home buyers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorita buyers, first timers!

The most important first step for a first time homebuyer or really any buyer, is to talk to at least two, preferrably three lenders to see what you qualify for. I always suggest more than one lender because every lender has different fees. While each of them may quote the same interest rate the effective rate can very often be dramatically different and a buyer should never pay more for money than they have to.

In conjunction with talking to lenders, a buyer should get an insurance quote based on the property they qualify for in they are buying in the Charleston area since escrow payments for insurance can be larger than those in communities that are not on the coast.

I hope that this is helpful!

Best regards,


Cheryll Woods-Flowers
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
I know it sounds self serving, but you need to contact a Realtor. That's what we are here for! We can answer all of your questions and set expectations for you. We will help guide you through the entire process, from start to finish. It will cost you nothing to consult with a Realtor. Buyer representation services are usually free to the buyer. The Realtors most often get payed out of a commission offered by the seller. I say "most often" because in our state, and in many others, all real estate commissions are negotiable, so there may be exceptions to that general practice. Find a Realtor that you trust, and you won't be sorry!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
Find great representation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
You can read all about buyer tips on my website. There is a ton of information. Then call me :)


Debbie Knowles
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
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