10 Home Buying Tips For First-Time Buyers

A lot of thought goes into buying a home. And whether this is your first home or your fifth, there are things you should always keep in mind. Below is a brief list of helpful home buying tips to think about while you conduct your search. If you have questions, or you'd like to discuss anything, don't hesitate to contact me for assistance.

1 Don't Let Desire & Impulse Drive The Decision

Think first. Shop second. Before you look for a new home, ask yourself a few basic questions. Why are you moving? Because you need to? Or because you want to? Do you want to find a nice family neighborhood? Or a house near the beach? Are you looking for your first home? An investment property? Or a place to retire? Assess your needs ahead of time, and you will have already done half the work. For help sorting through your needs and preferences see my want/wish list.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Explore the possibilities, but don't drown in them. Looking at homes well beyond your means is fun. But falling in love with one can spell trouble. Talk to a lender. Find out what yemou can afford. Then look at homes just below and just above your price range. You never know. You might find a bargain fixer-upper. Or you could come across an expensive home with a motivated seller who's willing to work with you. Try never to get too excited, or too worried, and always be willing to walk away from a home that's not right.

3. Not All Real Estate Agents Are Equal

When choosing an agent, be picky. One of the best tips for buying a home is to first find the right real estate agent. The right agent can save you time and money and spare you from unnecessary emotional stress. The wrong one will saddle you with a bad case of buyer's remorse or send you whimpering back into the rental market. Don't just chat with agents. Interview them. Hire only a licensed Realtor. Make sure the agent works as a buyer's agent, and ask for a buyer's agent contract. And most important, make sure you like the agent you choose. Good chemistry goes a long way. Read about Lauren.

4. Be Responsible With Your Money

Put your finances in order. Don't make big-ticket purchases, like buying a new car. Don't move money around from one bank account to another. That makes lenders suspicious. And finally, get pre-approved by a lender. They will order a credit report ahead of time and resolve any mistakes or blemishes You'll be a stronger buyer when the time comes to make an offer. Read about financing.

5. Familiarize Yourself With The Santa Cruz Real Estate Market

Get to know the market. Find out if you're in a hot market where homes get multiple offers. Or a cold market where properties remain on the market for months. The difference is night and day. Get in your car and drive around. Locate the neighborhoods that appeal to you. Take notice of the services and the sense of community each neighborhood has. Visiting open houses is another great way to get a feel for the market.

tips for buying a home

6. Make An Offer They Can't Refuse

Your offer is more than a number. When you offer to by someone's house, don't just show them the money. Think of other ways to make your offer attractive. Agree to their escrow preferences. Suggest a lower selling price while offering to cover necessary repairs out of your own pocket. If the seller conducted their own inspections, consider waiving your inspection contingency. Offer to pay some of their closing costs. Money does talk, but it's not everything.

7. Always Get A Home Inspection

Inspect it now, or pay for it later. If you buy a home and find out termites are feasting on the floor boards, or that your pipes are about to burst, don't say I didn't warn you. There are just too many unknowns when buying a house. Always get property, pest and roof inspections, and read them carefully. Inspections not only protect you from buying a lemon, they can serve as a valuable negotiating tool.

8. Shop Around For The Perfect Mortgage

Mortgages come in many flavors. Conforming loans. Jumbo loans. Fixed-rate loans. Adjustable-rate loans. Assumable loans. Two-step loans. Balloon loans. FHA loans. VA loans. GPM loans. Zero-down loans. Get the picture? There are mortgages and loan programs for any and every kind of home buyer out there. Lenders want your business. Any many offer some creative ways to finance your house. So don't count yourself out before you investigate your financing options.

9. Get Everything In Writing. Everything. 

Repeat after me...get it in writing. Another great tip for home buyers is to track and record your business transactions. You will be dealing with sellers, lenders, inspectors, and title officers. You'll also be spending thousands of your hard-earned dollars. Protect yourself. Have every promise and agreement put into writing. Never sign anything until you're sure you understand it. And ask for a copy of every document.

10. Take A Moment To Appreciate The Excitement Of It All

Pat yourself on the back. Buying a home is one of the biggest, and perhaps one of the most important, decisions you will ever make. And it most cases, it's a good one. Few long-term investments appreciate in value quite like real estate. At the end of the tax year you can write off the interest from your loan. Then there are years of enjoyment ahead for you and your family in the place you're about to call home.

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