Preparing to buy your first home - couple looking at computer at their dining room tableIf you’re mulling around a home purchase, it’s a good idea to formulate a plan. Preparing to buy your first home will take some time, even before you see any homes. Just thinking about it can be a little overwhelming!

In this article we’ll share tips for folks interested in buying how to get started:

  • video discussion of the first three steps
    • online research (various areas of interest to you)
    • talk to folks you know who have recently purchased about their experience so that you can learn what to anticipate
    • talk with a Realtor (or a few of them) and learn how they work
  • a list of things to consider researching when considering home buying
  • a list of other resources at the end

Preparing to buy your first home: 3 steps

 

When preparing to buy your home, slow down, make a plan, do some research online, talk with recent home buyers, and then speak with a Realtor (or two or three).

Once you select a Realtor, he or she can help you to create a path forward. Often they’ll ask you about setting priorities (and as much as possible, for you to rank them), your budget, your tolerance for doing repairs, your desired timing, and a few other things.

The folks who get into the most trouble with a real estate purchase are those who do it spontaneously.

What kind of research should be done when preparing to buy a home?

There are many areas you’ll want to investigate:

  • What is your budget, and what is the true cost of home ownership? You may need to target a loan to know that answer. A good lender can help with the numbers, but so can many Realtors (rough or approximate PITI – monthly principal, interest, taxes, and insurance). Can you afford it? Or you might talk with a financial planner or tax professional, since home buying will impact your taxes.
  • Related: find out your credit score and what you can do to improve it, as this will help you to qualify for a lower interest rate. get your credit scores from AnnualCreditReport.com and see if there are any errors or any issues which you can resolve. Do not pull your credit often, though.
  • Where do you want to live? If you’re interested in Campbell, for instance, you may want to investigate commute times, cost of housing, natural or environmental hazards, school scores, community features (parks, shops, events, and more), crime stats, etc.
  • Research for finding a Realtor and finding a lender.
  • What type of home is in your budget? Will it be a detached single family home, an attached single family home (also called a duet home), a townhouse, a condo, a mobile home, or something else? How do you feel about a zero lot line or patio home as an option?
  • Does the home need to be perfect, or close to it, or are you willing to do some rehabbing? There’s a ton more competition for the turnkey home, and you’ll likely have “sweat equity” if you buy a property that needs updating.
  • If you aren’t sure where you want to live, you might want to start with your top location priority, whether it’s proximity to work, schools, or something else, and then check within a radius of that desired spot.
  • Some home buyers preparing to buy begin with the natural and environmental hazards, as their top priority is safety. We provide links for that research on our relocation site and you can find them here: Tools you can use when relocating to the San Jose area
  • Obviously, you’ll want to research how much cash you need to have on hand to buy a home, too.
  • Cost of homeowners insurance: right now many insurance companies are backing out of California, and that means that in some cases it’s hard to find insurance coverage from regular companies (with the better rates) and in some cases the cost of insurance is a fortune. This is particularly true for home in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.
  • Local real estate market trends (data, stats).

 

When preparing to buy your first home, please keep in mind that real estate is hyper local, and national articles, or even pieces written about California as a whole may not reflect the reality of the housing market in Santa Clara County or the San Francisco Bay Area.

Additional resources & links

Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected? (on this site)

Verbal offers (on this site)

How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley? (on this site)