If the thought of buying a Santa Cruz home in 2011 has even so much as flitted through your mind, here are six New Year’s Resolutions you should consider making:
1. Review your credit reports. To determine the interest rate and terms of your mortgage, lenders pull credit scores from each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union. You need to go through all three credit reports and dispute any credit report errors.
2. Establish a good credit rating. To take advantage of today's low interest rates, your credit score needs to be above 760. The higher, the better. To improve your credit rating, fix all errors in your credit reports and practice good credit behavior by paying your bills on time and in full each month.
3. Find out how much Santa Cruz home you can afford to buy. To determine this, you need to know how much money you have for a down payment and how much money you can borrow. The best way to know how much you can borrow is to get pre-approved for a loan.
4. Shop around for a mortgage. Talk with 4 or 5 lenders before signing an application. Include a wide variety of mortgage providers such as a small local bank, a credit union, a mortgage broker, an online lender and a traditionally “big” lender such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo. Learn from each lender and then negotiate to get the best deal.
5. Research the neighborhood before you buy a home there. Find out about the schools, the crime rate and the foreclosure rate. Visit the neighborhood during the day and again at night to learn what’s really going on there. Take a walk and talk with the neighbors. They’ll give you the real scoop. Hire a real estate agent who lives and works in that neighborhood.
6. Read and understand all documents before signing them. I know they’re long, boring and complicated. But you’ll be spending the next 15 to 30 years of your life paying this loan. It’s worth the effort to read and understand everything before signing. If you don’t understand something, ask before you sign.
If buying a Santa Cruz home is on your list of things to do in 2011, let me help. Give me a call today at 831.662.6522 or for additional information visit my website at www.MySantaCruzRealEstate.com.