A home is probably the largest financial investment you’ll make in your life. Before you get started, Get Pre-Approved and do some homework. This handy Buyer’s Guide will show you some things to keep in mind as you’re hunting for that home of your dreams.
1. Determine How Much You Can Afford
How much house you can afford is largely dependent on how large a mortgage – basically, a home loan -- you can handle. Apply for a home loan with a Mortgage Broker &/or Direct Lender (go to my "Helpful Phone Number" page for referral's) before you start looking for a home. This is called getting pre-approved for a home loan; they will tell you exactly how much you can afford, the type of loan best fit for you, and your fee's related with your loan process. This also will make your closing process go faster. In today's lending market, the lender's guidelines are changing almost monthly, if not weekly.
Making an Offer to purchase a home and owning a home involves more than a monthly mortgage payment. You’ll also have to consider money you’ll need to have on hand when you make an offer, when you close on a home, and on a monthly basis after the home is yours.
Payments you may have to make when you submit an offer and at closing include:
2. Shop for a Home
House hunting can be both exciting and frustrating. Most homebuyers see roughly many houses before buying one. To make the search easier and faster, nearly half of all house hunters today begin by browsing for properties on the Internet, using web sites like this one. Please go to my home page and click on the "Search For Homes" link and you will have access to the same data as Realtors in the areas from Burbank to Thousand Oaks in Los Angeles County. For Ventura County Property information click on the other link "Here" on my homepage. This information is up-to-date and accurate. Other sites on the internet do not provide up-to-date data and lag behind my site.
The Internet is a quick way to see whether the properties that are currently available meet the following critical criteria: in the right location, with the right features and at the right price. If you find after your search on my website that few properties meet with your expectations, you may want to re-adjust your criteria – change the location, features, price – to increase your chances of finding a house that works for you. If you have any difficulties in this initial search or are not finding what you are looking for, feel free to contact me for assistance. Homes can become available instantly and I am always the most current and best resource for literally up to the minute property listings and sales information. Please keep in mind; many web sites on the Internet does not provide up-to-date status information on a property. The best way to know if a property is still available For Sale on the Internet is to check with a License California REALTOR®, such as myself.
Once you know what you want, where you want to live and what you can afford, it’s time to see the properties for yourself. Contact me and I'll be happy to show you the properties inside. Please keep in mind that in most cases, Owners live in the homes that you want to see, so an appointment or courtesy call is a must by me. To help stay focused, bring with you a checklist of things that you’ve decided ahead of time are important qualities of your future home.
This might include:
Is there enough room for you to grow in?
Is the house structurally sound?
Is the house in move-in condition or will it need work?
Is it close enough to everyday needs, such as grocery stores, schools, work?
Will you feel safe here?
Do the appliances that are part of the sale in working condition? A Home Inspector will confirm this during your Home Inspection
Is the yard right for your needs?
Do you like the floor plan?
Is there enough storage space?
Will you be happy in this house in the: winter, summer, spring, fall?
You may also want to take some exterior and interior photos of each house you visit so that you can keep track of its pros and cons.
3. Find a Real Estate Professional...That's were I come in...
While you’re not required to use a License Real Estate professional, it is a wise decision. A professional REALTOR®, like myself, looks out for your best interest, will guide and help you through the entire process from start to finish, has access to a network of contacts, shows you the home (never knock on a door of a home without an Agent, except to go into an Open House), shows you the comparable sales in the neighborhood, and can draw from extensive market knowledge and experience to help pinpoint the right choice and price (Offer) on the house for you.
I also can help you structure your deal to save money, explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mortgages and guide you through the paperwork.
4. Research Different Mortgages
There are a variety of mortgage types available today, each with advantages and disadvantages depending on how long you plan to live in the home, the financial marketplace and your income potential, among other things.
A fixed-rate mortgage is the most common. In a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate and payment stay the same for the life of the loan.
An adjustable-rate mortgage usually starts out at lower interest rates and lower monthly payments than fixed-rate mortgages, but your rate and monthly payments may rise and fall based on a financial index.
There are also several government mortgage programs available, including FHA mortgages, which are designed to help people who has a smaller down payment and lower credit score .
You may also have a choice in loan terms. There are 30-year, 40-year and 15-year loans.
It’s best to talk to a Mortgage Broker or myself about your best loan (mortgage) option. I may refer you to a Mortgage Broker that can discuss current market financing packages and provide a FREE Loan Pre-Approval. Go to my "Helpful Phone Numbers" page on this site for Referral's.
5. Make an Offer
When you’ve found a house you really want, it’s time to make the offer. How much you offer may depend on a number of factors. Be prepared to submit with your offer; Pre-approval Letter, Updated Proof of Funds and First page of your Credit Report showing your FICO (credit) scores.
This can be just the beginning of the negotiation process. The seller has three options: accept your offer, counter your offer or reject your offer. Let me advise you on the best way to present your offer for a good outcome.
Is the asking price fair? Here’s where the legwork you put in while shopping for a home pays off. Decide whether this house is priced right or out of line in the current marketplace.
Is the house in good condition? Is this house in move-in condition or will it need a lot of work? Take any costs of improvement into consideration when deciding your offer price.
Has it been on the market long? Usually the longer a house has been on the market, the more likely it is the owner would accept a lower offer. Or maybe it’s just overpriced for the market.
Is it a seller’s or buyer’s market? If the houses you’re interested in are being bought as soon as they’re listed, that means you’ve got a lot of competition from other buyers; offer accordingly. If houses aren’t selling fast, you may have more leverage in negotiating a lower price.
Once you’ve determined how much you’d like to offer, work with your real estate professional to submit the proper information. This includes:
The amount of earnest money you’re paying
The down payment and financing details
A proposed move-in date
The price you’re offering
A proposed closing date
The length of time your offer is valid
Details of the deal
6. Begin Contingency Period
When your offer has been accepted, the contingency period begins. This is time that allows you to obtain financing, perform inspections, appraisal, and satisfy any other contingencies within your purchase agreement (contract).
Now is the time to schedule a professional inspection of the property; it is one of the best safeguards you can take before buying. A home inspector should check (and may give you a rough price for repairs on items) the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, water source and quality, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, roof and more. Always get written reports from all inspections.
Keep in mind that the inspector is not there to tell you whether you’re getting a good deal or not. He or she is there to give you an educated opinion on whether the house is structurally and mechanically sound and fill you in on any repairs that are needed. They are there to inform you of the condition of the property.
Every Home needs some kind of repair - Even New Homes.
7. Buy Homeowner’s Insurance
A paid Homeowners Insurance policy is required at closing. I will help make sure your insurance company and your escrow officer are working together to put your policy in effect by the close of escrow. But, if you get your insurance agent involved early in your home-buying process, he or she may also help point out ways to help keep your insurance premiums lower. Go to my "Helpful Phone Numbers" page on this site for a referral to a License Insurance Agent.
8. Complete Settlement or Closing
When the property you’re buying has been inspected, all your contingencies are removed, and you’ve had your final walk-through of the property, it’s time to sign your loan documents in the Escrow Company. You will be signing loan documents and closing papers, paying the balance of your down payment and closing costs in the Escrow Company. Once, your loan documents and final closing paperwork are signed, the loan documents will be returned (by the Escrow Company) to your lender, they will be reviewed one more time by your lender, than your lender will fund your loan. Once your loan is funded, you will close your transaction the next business day. You are hours away from getting the keys to your new home. Congratulations!
Feel free to contact me any time if I can be of any service! Also go to my "Real Estate News & Info" page for more helpful information.
Office: (818) 349-9997 x293
Cell: (818) 535-6493
Fax: (818) 349-0212