Most newspaper articles on housing are not news at all. They are advertisements that are disguised to look like news. They quote heavily from people like realtors, whose income depends on separating you from your money. Their purpose is not to inform, but rather to get you to buy. When you see an statistic that says everything is fine, look at the source. Is it from someone who needs you to believe in the housing market so that they can take your money?
Great time to buy as you are likely hearing. In West Oakland where you're looking, there are some great buys, mostly foreclosures. Many of them need work, so it is important that you work with an agent who can help you assess the amount of work a house needs. Foreclosures/REOs do not have inspections or disclosures about the property... so you as a buyer are on your own. It is all the more important to work with a realtor who can help you get qualified professionals in to assess the property, get legitimate inspections and prices for work needed, and act as your advocate. There is indeed a whole process, that you should go over with a realtor you are comfortable with. It is very important for you to work with a mortgage lender you are comfortable with as well..one who can access all banks and first time programs to evaluate what is best for you and your needs. A good realtor can recommend a good mortgage lender, if you don't have a good lender. May I recommend an excellant mortgage lender in Oakland, (regardless of what realtor you use): Holmgren and Associates Mortgage, Oakland: http://www.Mortgageholmgren.com/ They've been a local lender, and very involved in the community for a very long time...had no part in the mortgage meltdown or questionable loans. Total integrity. They will advocate for your best interests and even refer outside if need be, (which is rarely necessary). I often use Mari Parsnick, my favorite consultant there. My clients have loved working with her and say she has gotten fantastic loans and worked hard to get the best deal for them.
If you know the neighborhoods in west Oakland you are comfortable and familiar with, that is major.
Talk to people, get referrals, and check out any and all realtors you talk with. Ask for referrals.
I am happy to talk with you about any of this. I enjoy working with first time buyers and have lots of resources.
The best of luck in your search!
Ellen Lynch, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty, Oakland
My first bit of advise is to choose a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with. A good agent, who is looking out for your best interest, will take all the time you need to answer your questions, make sure the home you buy feels right for you, and connect you with an ethical mortgage broker. Making sure your financing is in order is of utmost importance in this market and any other market. It is important that you find a home that fits within your income level. You don't want to be living for your mortgage...there is much more to life. It is a great time to buy right now! Yes, the value of your home may decrease over the next year or two. It is hard to predict when the bottom of the market will hit. But, you will be building your equity not your landlord's. You will have the freedom to do what you want in your home regarding interior and exterior design. Homeownership is fabulous! Good luck to you and if there is anything I can assist with please contact me.
Since you posted your questin in September, I wondered if you had found a Realtor to work with. How is it going in your search? What is the best time for you to see property? I am a specialist in the 'first time buyer' area and would be happy to meet with you at your convenience. I am doing an open house in Hayward tomorrow, and invite you to stop by. Visiting open houses is a good way to learn about the process of home buying. You can get lots of great information for FREE to help you make your decision.
Let me know when you want to get together. You can call me on my cel 510-303-2549.
Glad you're planning to buy your first home. It will be an exciting and rewarding journey for you.
Just be sure that you first speak with a lender and get preapproved for a loan so that you know what your budget range would be, your comfort level in terms of how much of a monthly payment you're willing to undertake.
Knowing that, the next step is to hire an agent who will help guide you through the process, including giving you a history and other pertinent information about the property or properties in which you express an interest.
Have a trusted team working for you: your lender and your realtor.
I work this area. This is a bank-owned condo in a 6-unit building that has been on the market for about a month and a half.. The bank is selling two units as one.
I work a lot with first time home buyers and would be happy to talk to you about the process. Or if you have any specific questions I am happy to help.
If you contact me I can give you the name and phone number of an agent who will be happy to help you or just go to my website that is set up for first time home buyers http://www.just-listed-homes.com
Here's how it works: Just-Listed-Homes
We have a local agent who helps by providing you a list of similar homes by email and is available for you to ask questions.
Hope this helps, and Good Luck!