Advice for First-Time Buyers
At Swan Realtor Group our buyer representation focus is on education. We will communicate with your regularly, providing valuable market knowledge and expertise to guide you through each step in the real estate transaction process, starting with a mortgage pre-approval, contract negotiations, home inspection and warranty options, appraisal, homeowner’s associations, title considerations and closing and more!
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: We highly recommend that you hire your own buyer’s agent, someone who is working for you, not the seller. In a typical real estate transaction, the buyer’s agency commission fee is paid for by the Seller/Listing Brokerage. Without proper representation, experience and guidance you could potentially over-spend on purchase price or overlook property, HOA, title problems, etc. that otherwise would have been resolved before you closed on the property.
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 file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.
- Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
- Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.
- Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area
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?
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.
- Read and understand your HOA obligations (if any)
- Understand your title commitment
- 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.