First-Time Home Buyers
If you are a first-time home buyer, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in South Bay, CA.
- Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
- Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
- List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes - things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
- Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
- Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
- A list or file of the properties that your agent has shown to you.
- Paper and pen for taking notes as you search.
- A camera to snap pictures of homes you have toured to help you remember your favories and features you really liked.
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
- Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.
Are You Ready For South Bay Home Ownership?
For many individuals, owning a home may be a dream come true. However, there is a lot more involved in the process that may cause bumps and hitches that an unprepared buyer won't expect. In order for the purchase of a home to be the happy and satisfying experience it was meant to be, you need to ensure that you are educated and financially and mentally prepared for the responsibilities that come with it.
There are many ways in which owning a home differs from renting. In some ways, there are advantages: There are no restrictions on owning pets or decorating and painting in any way you prefer. However, while these advantages come with home ownership, so do responsibilities like paying a mortgage, taxes and managing home maintenance. Preparing for home ownership requires you to take critical stock of your finances and your expectations.
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Questions For Prospective Homeowners
Are you ready to buy?
Owning a first home is about more than just having autonomy with the design and aesthetic of a property. It's about being prepared to maintain a home through years of wear and tear, realizing that part of your income and time should always be devoted to repairs and maintenance, and about being willing to take on all the risks of home ownership that offer such a profound reward when it's time to sell.
How much can you afford?
How much money a first-time home buyer can afford to spend on a home varies vastly from person to person. Though it can be discouraging to find that a salary won't stretch as far as the home of your dreams, sacrificing a massive part of your income to pay the mortgage can very quickly make home ownership a burden rather than a point of pride. It's better to buy a home within your means to start with, then to look at purchasing your "dream home" in a few years from a more stable financial vantage point.
What is your debt-to-income ratio?
Lenders take the debt-to-income ratio of their buyers very seriously. Overall debt for someone looking to purchase a home should typically not exceed 40 percent, and the percentage of income that can go towards buying a home typically should not exceed 32 percent. What 32 percent of someone's income looks like varies vastly both from person to person but also from market to market. In rural or suburban areas for example, it can buy a very comfortable residence and ample acreage. In highly sought-after urban areas however, it may not even buy a 400-square-foot studio.
What do you want?
What are you looking for in a neighborhood? Are you prepared to do lawn maintenance yourself, or would you rather pay a monthly fee to have it done for you? Would Homeowner Association rules about when you can have your garbage cans out bother you, or do you want to live in a neighborhood where everything is 'just so'? The answers to these questions, as well as others, can help you narrow down the search for the perfect property.
We Can Help
You need a good agent who will work hard to meet your specific needs. Our South Bay real estate team is dedicated to helping you find the right home at the best price t o make your home buying experience as positive as possible. We want you to find the home that will make you happy and successful in real estate ownership.
When you hire us to help you buy your South Bay home, we want to know what you want and how much you can afford. Then we'll find a way to merge these two priorities and find a residence that you'll enjoy owning.
Keep your objectives in mind when visiting a home. Sometimes the idea of owning a home can overwhelm your practical sense, so it's important to have a clear goal in mind to make you best able to keep your feelings in check. Keep a list handy of the features you want and need in a home, and use the list to judge each South Bay home that you see to ensure that it matches up with your criteria and to keep from being distracted by details and other amenities the house offers that may not be what you need. When you're alone with your agent, you can go over the selling points of each home, marking them as pros or cons. We can help you stay on track while still keeping our eyes out for a great property.
Make the offer. This can be a maze of unfamiliar words and terminology and legal requirements that new home buyers may have never heard of. We'll be happy to prepare the paperwork and go through it with you before submitting it. Remember, the seller may reject or counter your offer, so even at this late date, be prepared to stay flexible, and avoid setting your heart on the home you hope to own. You'll probably have to write a deposit check to the seller's broker that proves the seriousness of your offer.
Get all necessary inspections done. A home inspector will check for any hard-to-see damage in a home that the untrained eye isn't attuned to. Inspectors will also check for signs of harmful materials like asbestos, lead paint, and mold, and they will additionally check for signs of pests, faulty wiring, and leaks. This part of the home buying process is crucial, because it gives buyers the peace of mind that the house they want to buy is a wise investment. Not getting an inspection done means buyers could be stuck in a home with a bad case of black mold and no means of recourse aside from paying to have it removed. Inspections cost a few hundred dollars apiece, but the peace of mind that they offer is an important part of the home-buying process. Our trained real estate agents can recommend local inspectors in the South bay area to work with you and your needs.
Do a final walkthrough before closing the deal. We'd be happy to do this with you to make sure that everything agreed upon is completed prior to the final signing.
From the first interview that determines your requirements to the moment that you receive the keys, we can help you with the complicated process of buying a home. Don't hesitate to contact us to find out more about how we can make the home buying process easier!
Contact us for more information about first-time home purchasing.