With low interest rates and foreclosure and short-sale properties on the market, many first-time home buyers have made the decision to enter the market. If home ownership is finally within your reach, be sure to keep these five tips in mind before beginning the process.
1. Do Your Homework: Use the Internet or a Realtor to find out about the area you are looking to purchase in. Study the average closing prices of comparable homes. Be clear about what exactly your needs are and differentiate between “must-haves” and “wants.” Your must-haves are your necessities. Your wants are things that would be nice to have but shouldn’t be a deciding factor in selecting a home.
2. Check Your Credit Report: Clean up your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. Check for mistakes, fraud and outstanding items. Not only will your credit score affect your rates, but it can impede you from getting a mortgage at all.
3. Consult with a Realtor: This is not meant to be self-serving. A good Realtor is important to ensure that you feel comfortable about your home purchase. Make sure he or she is experienced with first-time home buyers and knowledgeable about the area. Your real estate agent can provide you with all the inventory in your area that is for sale, as he or she has access to the Multiple Listing Service, where 99 percent of active listings are housed. Your Realtor will guide you through each stage of the buying process and can assist with negotiation.
4. Get Pre-Qualified: Most homeowners in today’s economy will require a pre-approval letter along with your offer, showing you have been pre-qualified for a mortgage up to a certain amount. Proving that you are pre-approved increases your leverage, makes you aware what is within your means, and give all parties comfort in knowing you can close with certainty and on time.
5. Get a Home Inspection: Once your offer is accepted, make sure to get a home inspection completed on the property. This is important so you can be made aware of any problems, damage, termites, etc., before the home closes and have them repaired before moving in.
Use these tips to be a smart home buyer and save time and money. Purchasing your first home can be stressful, but most issues can be resolved with a little homework and assistance along the way. Article from my column on Patch.com. Read more here.
Call me if you need assistance in finding your first home!
And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist
Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN
Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors