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?

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Cory La Scala, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Mar 5, 2012
All great answers so far, but here are some of my most important "nuts & bolts" tips for first-time home buyers, but I guess they could be important for all buyers.

#1. Work with an experienced agent - you'll be far less likely to be asking us questions in panic while you're in escrow. Why?
a) they took the time to understand the loan process and will stay on top of every step of it FOR YOU - since you probably don't understand the process
b) they won't let you see properties if your loan type won't work for it "just to see it" - unless they think there's a possibility that it might work
c) they're not afraid to negotiate - hard - for you, and aren't intimidated by other agents. They're not afraid to fight a listing agent's own REO Addendum (becoming more common?) they try to sneak in as part of the offer process.

#2. Talk to a few lenders before you go to see properties - you need to know what your financing type is first. Not all properties qualify for all financing types.

#3. There are some work-arounds to #2 - which is where #1 comes into play. They work with knowledgeable lenders who can sometimes offer solutions.

#4. Getting your offer accepted will cost you minimum $700 out-of-pocket in escrow the first few days - for your home inspection and appraisal - an experienced agent will do the research needed so you the property you choose will have a much better chance at closing.
* tip - get your inspection on day 1 of escrow. If you end up cancelling, you won't already have paid your $450 - $550 appraisal fee. Experience.

#5. Some listing agents price low so their listings generate multiple offers - just be aware that you may have to offer list price at least, or more than list price - your agent will show you comps.

#6. Offering list price doesn't mean you're not getting a deal, it means you're more likely to get a home.
* tip - for under list price offers, look at older listings, you'll be more likely to get a deal.

#7. Sellers look at the net price - what you offer minus what you're asking them to pay.

Cory La Scala, REALTOR
Independence Realty
1 vote
Marcie Sands, Agent, Poway, CA
Mon Mar 5, 2012
10 Important Buyer Tips:

1.) Get your loan pre-approval BEFORE you start looking at properties with your REALTOR. Lending is much more strict in the current market. You will know what you can afford, and your offer will be taken seriously.

2.) Shop lenders for the best rates and terms. There are banks, mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, credit unions etc... Not all loans are equal. Ask many questions so that you understand the costs and benefits of each one.

3.) Find a good REALTOR that will keep YOUR GOALS the focus of your property search and work only with that agent. The search will be streamlined and as you work together. They will learn more about your needs, negotiate on your behalf and work with you every step of the transaction so all contractual deadlines are met. A Buyer's Agent works for YOUR best interest (not the seller) and gets paid by the commission already established by the seller (so not cost to you!).

4.) Have your REALTOR provide you with current comparable properties and all data necessary for evaluating the market value of a property when making an offer. Discuss the details with your REALTOR.

5.) ALWAYS have a Property Inspection by a professional and be present at the inspection.

6.) Consider Location, Floor Plan, Neighborhood, School DIstrict, Noise, Lot size, View (you can change the "style" - fixtures, flooring, appliances, paint etc... but you can't change the "substance").

7.) Continue to ask questions along the way. It is very important you understand the process. Your REALTOR is there to assist you. You want to be able to make educated decisions and understand the details.

8.) Do not over-buy. Realize that there will be maintainance costs in owning a home. Budget for extras. You don't wan't your home to own you.

9.) Buying a home can be very emotional. Learn to balance the emotional side of the purchase with the logical or investment side. Write down your goals in a home. Don't fall too much in love with any one home that you overlook important factors. There are always more choices coming on the market.

10.) Enjoy the process. Don't rush yourself or be pushed into buying a particular home. Take the time to see enough homes that you get a sense of what is important to you and understand what you get for the cost. Do your homework so you feel confident when making an offer and ready to act quickly if necessary. This is one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so treat it that way.

Kind Regards,

Marcie Sands, REALTOR
Simply The Best Real Estate Co., Inc.
1 vote
Fixer Funding, , San Diego County, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
First and foremost answer this question:
A) Is this first purchase primarily a financial/investment decision or
B) An emotional purchase to meet your families needs

If A: Look for value, buy a duplex fixer to create cashflow and a future income property. A 203k rehab loan is a great way to do this and can make this the best investment you make.

If B: Research schools, focus on a location that meets your needs and try to get the most for your money. Location, Location,Location... you can always remodel a home but it's not as practical to relocate. The location of the land is more important than the counters in the kitchen.

Rafael Perez, imortgage
Check out my blog: http://www.FixerFunding.com
Web Reference:  http://FixerFunding.com
1 vote
Janett Lewis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
* Work with an experienced agent
* Work with a great Lender
* Check out their references and reviews
* Ask a lot of questions until you are clear
* READ the purchase contract understand what you are signing
* Negotiate
* Stay open and willing to look at a lot of properties to make your best choice

You can check out my blog at the website below. For more info, click on the articles tab
Web Reference:  http://janettlewis.com
1 vote
Cori Buckley, , San Diego, CA
Fri Mar 16, 2012
First get preaproved. It is a buyers market and homes are not sitting. You want to be able to put an offer in when you find the one that meets your needs and dreams. Check the community out . What is important to you? Being close to work...schools...shopping ...the airport....etc. take your time and take notes and pictures when touring the homes. A good buyers agent will listen to your needs and be able to match homes that meet your criteria. I love my role as a realtor. I have a nursing degree and love helping people. If you are looking for a home please call me. I will listen to your needs and make sure you find the home of your dreams ! Cori Buckley 858-212-6090
0 votes
Jonathan Mor…, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
1) Get a secure loan.!!! (Fixed) Use a reputable loan officer.

2) Weigh your options in searching for the right neighborhood you desire. Often your wants and needs will fit areas you might not be aware of. Find a LOCAL Specialist or San Diego Native agent will help.

3) Feel out your time frame, while Short Sale's might be a great opportunity it can be costly in time. If the right home is on the market NOW, you may want to move on it. Rates are great currently.

4) Look at New Home Communities, they offer great incentives!

5) Remember purchasing a condo will add HOA Fees while traditionally most Detached Homes do not. HOA Fees add to your monthly payments!

I can provide more tips for ANY first time Buyer! You can also find active MLS on my website.

Jon Morris
Team Manager/Agent
SD Pacific Homes Team
Web Reference:  http://sdpacifichomes.com
0 votes
Andy Fraguela, , Manhattan Beach, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
First and foremost, be comfortable with your Realtor. You will be creating an relationship with that Realtor since the current market reflect more short sale inventory than traditional sales. The odds of you finding and going into escrow within 2-4 months is what buyers are experiencing now. If you have not contacted an experience and reliable loan officer, ask your Realtor for a referral. The best experience is when both the buyers agent and loan officer work together and know each other patterns. Experience and knowledge! Don't ask your Realtor how long in the business ask them how many successful escrow they have closed. I could go on and on but these are my top tips!
Web Reference:  http://www.24krealty.com
0 votes
Monica & Dav…, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
As mentioned in another answer, getting preapproved for a loan is a great first step. In will enable you to better understand your financial position and what you can reasonably afford to buy.

Of course working with a good agent is important, as there is quite alot of interaction and activities that go into buying a home. So, you want to feel comfortable with anyone that you choose. It will make your live less stressful!

I'd also start putting together your Must Have List, and then your Wish List of the features that you'd like to see in your new home. Lastly, STOP renting, as there are so many advantages to building equity in a home, not to mention interest deductions on your taxes, and the incredibly low interest rates that you can get.

Feel free to search for homes on my website below. It truly is one of the most user friendly home searching sites in San Diego!

David Stone
Greater Good Realty
CA DRE#01888818
0 votes
Maureen McGr…, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012

My top tip to first time buyers is to get a preapproval. Make sure that the lender takes a full loan application, gathers your pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. This will then go to an underwriter who will fully review your file and give you a conditional approval. The conditions are that you find a home that will appraise and fits any other lender criteria.

Second, based on that amount start to decide what you want in your new home. Start with those features that are a must and those that you would like to have, but are willing to compromise on.

Then, go to some open houses in the neighborhoods you are considering and talk to different agent, in fact you are interviewing them to be your Realtor.

If you would like more information, you are welcome to give me a call or email me.
Maureen McGrath
Prudential California Realty
DRE #01714823
(619) 922-2441
0 votes
David Inderm…, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
Make sure you work with a Experienced Agent and they can walk you thru the entire transactional side from A to Z. You should be explained the Escrow process as well as the time frame from the date of acceptance regarding the removal of contingencies. They should explain the importance of having all your finances in order before submitting an offer.
I hope that helps.
0 votes
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