Buying your first home, especially in Southern California, can seem impossible if you’re not informed and prepared for the road ahead. Hopefully, after reading our homebuying tips and downloading our homebuyer’s checklist, you will have fewer questions about buying a home.
For any questions that you have left, it’s best to connect with one of our real estate professionals who can give you even more insight after learning your specific needs.
Here’s our ultimate checklist for homebuyers so you don’t have to wonder where to get started.
Before you can own a home, you’ll need to qualify for a loan, and, in order to qualify, your future mortgage lender will need to like what they see. Focus on paying down your credit cards first.
A good credit score will help you to qualify for a good loan. If your credit score is less than stellar, keep focusing on paying down your debt and paying your bills on time until you see some improvement.
How many unnecessary line items can you cut out of your weekly, monthly, and annual expenses? Making coffee and cooking at home, canceling subscriptions that you get little to no use out of, and walking instead of taking a rideshare might not seem like a lot, but it all adds up over the years.
Having money in the bank, about 15-20 percent of your desired home’s cost, will be important when it comes to paying your down payment. So instead of investing your extra cash or using it to buy a new car, keep it in the bank if you know you’ll be buying a home soon.
You’ll hear a lot about pre-qualification and pre-approval, but those terms do not mean the same thing. Pre-qualification is a simple estimate of how much you can afford and pre-approval is when your mortgage loan amount is approved. You can start looking for a home before you are officially pre-approved, but it’s best to take that step early in your process so that when you find a home you love you can make an offer and begin negotiating.
How many bedrooms do you need? Are you planning to start or expand a family in this home? What school districts would you like to be in? Do you want a detached single-family home or a multifamily home? Do you prefer buying a new home that you can customize to your needs or will an existing home suffice? Consider your needs before you speak with your real estate agent, but also be prepared to answer some questions you may not have considered before.
Working with a qualified real estate agent makes the homebuying process easier, faster, and even more fun. Plus, when you work with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties agent, you get the benefits of a full-service real estate brokerage backing you every step of the way.
Start by entering the obvious parameters using our home search, such as city or ZIP code, bedroom and bathroom count, price, and square footage. Once you’ve narrowed it down, ask your agent to set up a time to visit the properties and take a look around. Photos on the Internet give you an idea of what the home is like, but you won’t really know until you step inside. You might even want to go back and visit several times before deciding to make an offer.
Your agent can help you with this step to make sure that every pertinent piece of information is included. In communities and price ranges that are in-demand, submitting a letter to the seller with your offer might be a good idea. Ask your agent how to best compose your letter.
Once your offer is accepted, there is still one step left in the homebuying process: escrow. The escrow process is when all buyer and seller terms are met and the lender agrees to fund the transaction.
Once you close escrow, it’s time to move in! Use our ultimate guide to moving to help you get started.