It might seem like a herculean task to “buy a home.” After all, it is a huge purchase — likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make until you buy your next home.
Where do you start? What do you need to consider?
As your friendly Southern California Realtor who has helped over 100 buyers buy their first home since the pandemic started, here’s the playbook:
Where do you start?
Talking to a Realtor
You don’t need to have anything prepared to talk to a Realtor — when we first talk to our buyers, here are some of the questions we ask :
- which city do you live in now?
- which cities are you open to?
- what’s your comfortability with a fixer? major or minor?
- do you see yourself in a condo, townhome or single family?
- when you are browsing Zillow, what price homes do you like to look at?
- what is important to you in an area?
- do you have any pets?
- what do you do for work? in-person or wfh?
Simple, yet informative questions. Generally, on my first call with a buyer, I just like to get a feel for who they are and what they like. We make it easy for our buyers to book a call right on our calendar.
Talking to a Lender (not getting pre-approved)
I always ask the buyer if they have connected with a lender. If you have — congrats, you’re ahead of the game. But most of the time, buyers haven’t had a call with a lender already — and we are happy to connect you to any of the lenders that we’ve worked with and trust. On that call with a lender, here’s what most buyers ask or talk about
- what is our estimated max price point?
- what are some ways we can get a lower monthly payment?
- are there any buyer programs I can utilize?
- what do you need from me in order to get pre-approved?
- how does getting underwritten help me be a stronger buyer?
Familiarizing Yourself with Options
Whether you’re buying a home in a month or a year, it’s always a good time to get familiar with the inventory that matches your interests. Realscout is a home search engine just like Zillow or Redfin — but it’s connected to my MLS and I can filter out for criteria that is important to my buyers like if a home has AC, a garage or is a single story home.
It’s important to get specific inventory on a regular basis so you can get familiar with which neighborhoods have the home you’re looking for.
Then when you’re ready to jump on a home, you can go in knowing that you really did find the exact home you’ve been looking for.
What do you need to consider
now that you’re done with the setting up portion of your home buying journey — let’s talk about what you should start considering on your house hunt.
Consider a fixer
A fixer can be cosmetic or it can be a full house gut. Depending on what your comfortability is — I recommend looking out for the 3 easiest renovations
1 — dark paint to light paint
2 — bad flooring to Laminate Vinyl Planks
3 — no lighting to recessed lighting throughout.
We’re always renovating homes — whether it’s our own or for a seller. We can help price out renovations during home tours.
Consider the market
Is the market you’re interested in more of a buyer or a seller’s market? As always, the nicest home on the best street with the most upgraded renovations will sell quickly — but for the homes that need a little TLC, are they on the market for 30+ days? Could we possibly ask for a seller credit to buy down your rate or take care of closing costs?
Consider the resale value
If you’re happy living next to a busy and loud commercial building, that’s good — because you can usually get a good deal on those homes. Consider that the same home you’re getting a deal on due to the location is also the same home you may want to sell one day. Just like you got a deal for the home due to the location, your buyer may also get a deal.
Consider how long you want to be in the home
Many of the buyers we work with like to start with a home that is very comfortable with their payments. They like to save money so they can buy a more long term property. 2–3 years down the line instead of maximizing their current budget and buying again in 7+ years.
The buyers who do this don’t seller their initial property — they keep it as a rental.
If you’re looking for a forever home, it’s important to be extra picky on location and layout — those are two things that will be near impossible or hard to change.