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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:


Congrats on your plan to become a home owner. This is a major step towards wealth building. If you plan on buying a home using financing , you should first speak to your current bank or a mortgage broker and see what loan programs they have available to first-time home buyers based on your income, credit, debts and the amount of money you have for a down payment and closing costs. You want your bank to tell you what you can comfortably afford.........not the maximum, but what you can comfortably afford. After you purchase your home, you will want to make improvements, furnish the place and address other surprises that come from being a home owner. You want reserves (and the bank will require it) so you can handle any surprises.

Once you know what you can afford, you can then decide on engaging an agent to help you find your home. It should be someone experienced, knowledgeable about the area you want to live in and someone you feel comfortable with. Good luck with your search!

William Yarbro
Coldwell Banker -Brentwood
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
I've worked with quiet a few first time buyers, and the most valuable advice I can give is to take a first time buyer class with a non profit group, I have taught the classes and have been on their boards of directors and no matter how much information or how good your agent is you cannot asimilate all the information that you are given during the purchase.
If you take the class in a non intimidating setting and with people with similar skill sets as yours you will be more inclined to ask questions, and if you are the quiet type maybe someone will have a similar question. When you begin to work with your agent the information that he/she will provide you will make a lot more sense because you will be hearing it for a second time.
Best of all the classes are free, a good lender will know where they are available, if not a quick search on the hud website will provide you with a list.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
I agree with the need to be pre-approved before you go out on your search. A good loan officer will get your file in shape for the best possible program and without it is like going to the store without your wallet. Use a full-time realtor who knows the area. And evaluate each property for features vs price not whether it is a standard sale, reo or short sale.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
Understand what you qualify for and what kind of lifestyle you want. Although it is a buyers market, be realistic and understand many areas still sell close to their asking price. If you're buying a home to live in, it's more than just what you paid for it. Focus on how you will build your life in your new home and not be solely focused on price. If you like the place go for it. Make a strong offer. No matter what, you will be getting a better deal than a few years back.

Don't focus on the national headlines when it comes to the real estate market. Real estate is local so understand your local market.

Finally purchasing a home is a partnership between you and your Realtor. Both parties need to work together to get the job done. Real estate is relational so make sure you and your Realtor will work well together.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
Be realistic. Do a budget analysis and figure out how much home you can afford. Talk to a lender, are you interested in a conventional loan, FHA, or a V.A loan? You have to realize that owning a home does have maintenance costs associated with it. Do you have kids? How good are the schools in the area you are interested in. At this time, we have a interesting real estate market. Low interest rates and low home prices ( each neighborhood is different). If you are doing a short sale, be patient, and understand that escrow can take a long time. Also, a short sale can end up in foreclosure. I hope this helps.


Web Reference: http://www.homesbylee.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
1. Get fully approved by a lender BEFORE you spend time looking
2. Get referrals for a buyers agent that has been in the business for a while and owns or has owned property. And is a super specialist in the neighborhoods you looking in (do not with a "generalist" that knows broad areas but not your area super well)
3. Realize it is likely going to take a long time, lots of offers...be persistent. It takes a lot longer than most people think to buy a home.
4. Realize there is not just the down payment, but closing costs that you need cash for if you don't get a seller credit
5. Realize there are other costs to owning a home you don't have when renting...water bill, repairs, maintenance
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
#1. Speak and get pre approved with your bank or a mortgage broker. You need to know exactly what your requirements will be. How much down payment you need, what programs are available to you, and what you monthly payments will be. There is nothing more frustrating for everyone involved that to be looking at properties, fall I love with the perfect home and then find out it is unattainable due to the financing requirements. Once you have this verified and you are pre approved, do yourself a favor and work with an experienced agent who is knowledgeable in the area you want to live in. With these 2 things to start with, you will be fine. Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
1. Get a loan pre-approval.
Even if you know you can qualify, you must be able to prove it to sellers. Most sellers, including all foreclosure and short sale sellers won't review an offer without a pre-approval. A pre-approval will also tell you how much you qualify for — which is different than what you feel comfortable spending -- so you know what price range you can consider.

2. Understand your loan options.
What kind of loan is best for you - FHA, conventional or other type of loan? What is mortgage insurance? Do you want to look at rehab loans? Go over these questions with a lender so you are better prepared to take advantage of some of the attractive financing options out there now.

3. Define your search
Get an idea what you are looking for, and you can start perusing properties in your range. See what types of properties, and what areas will qualify. Get an experienced and qualified agent to help you get started on your search. They can send you properties that match your criteria, let you know what may be best for you, and maybe give you some ideas you haven't thought of! You can also learn what properties have sold recently in various areas, so you can an idea what the market is like currently.

4. Understand the different types of properties
You will such things as REO (or foreclosure), short sale, probate sale, standard sale, when you are looking at properties. Talk to an agent to better understand what these mean, the different processes for buying each property, and which may be right for you.

5. Is construction right for you?
Are you up for remodeling or expanding a home? You don't need to commit to anything yet, but you may want to consider options such as this, so now may be a good time to start considering the costs and benefits of a remodel, expansion, or new construction. It's not always easy, but can be valuable if it's an option for you.

And of course, make sure you have an experienced agent on your side. An agent will be invaluable in helping you navigate the entire buying process from start to finish (and beyond), help you find the right property for you (while helping you steer clear of properties that may not be a wise investment), answer all of your questions, save you time and money, and protect your best interests along the way.

Richard Schulman
Keller Williams Realty
#1 Agent KW Westside Realty 2007-Present
(310) 482-0173
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
Education, make sure you are pre approval not qualified? don't spend over budget.. make sure you are still able to enjoy life..Vacations,dining out and so forth...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
My first advice is to educate themselves wtih their agents. It is a beginning experience and many people are terrified wtih the entire process. It is agent's responsiblity to hand hold them through the entire process and ke them comfortable.

Tammy Behnam
Rodeo Realty-Beverly Hills
310-266-1102 Direct
Web Reference: http://www.tammybehnam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 4, 2012
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