Oakland house for sale
Homeownership has always been the American dream and can be both joyous and financially beneficial.
Needless to say, the process of buying a home for the first time is filled with drama for most people. Letting loose that much money can be bone-rattling and bring up all kinds of issues you never knew you had. Not to mention, it is confusing. By the time you lose your fifth bid, you realize how much smarter you have gotten about the process (and less traumatized when you lose, too).
After serving first-home buyers for the past 10 years, I have noticed a strong trend in the kinds of things that can keep you up at night. I hope you can gain some insights from my list of the Top 3 most common first time buyer mistakes - and how you can avoid them.
Choosing the wrong real estate agent (or choosing not to work with an agent at all): Yeah, that’s right. I am putting this at the top of the list and it’s not as self-serving as you may think. There are lots of ways to find a real estate agent to represent you in your home purchase: meeting them at open houses, finding them online or just walking into a local real estate office. Using these techniques, you may meet a great agent. But you just as likely might not.
The best way to hire an agent, in my opinion, is to ask for a referral from a friend or family member who has worked with someone they liked and respected. Be sure your agent is local to the area in which you are looking, and take the time to interview several agents to find the one that has the best chemistry with you and the best expertise and record of service. The amount of hours and level of soul-baring required in your house quest means you should actually connect with the agent in a significant way.
Of course, you can always choose to skip the whole agent thing altogether. Thanks to the internet and online brokerages, going solo is totally possible. But given that you don’t actually pay a buyer’s agent (both agents are paid by the seller), and that a local, experienced agent knows their market like the back of their hand, why would you choose to go it alone? It requires serious focus, time, patience and determination - which hardly describes the characteristics of newbie buyers. Think about it - you are just buying one house. Your agent has probably bought and sold hundreds of houses for his or her clients over the years. Utilize their expertise!
Not getting pre-qualified for a mortgage first: Many first time homebuyers are so eager that they jump right into looking for homes speaking to a lender first. I strongly recommend that you take the time to meet with a lender before you start looking for a home. Why? First, it helps you set a ceiling on the price of the houses you are considering and forces you to take a look at how much house you can really afford.
Second, getting pre-qualified for a loan prepares you for making an offer when you do find a house you are interested in. Believe it or not, the Bay Area housing market is moving at a surprisingly fast clip these days. It feels like 2005 all over again; thank you Facebook! But seriously, you simply don’t have time to get your pre-approval completed after you find the house of your dreams. By the time you have worked it out, that house is likely to already be sold to another buyer. It happens fast.
So, take the time to talk to a lender and get your pre-qualification work done up front. An excellent agent will have recommendations for an excellent, and efficient, lender.
Getting emotionally involved and/or waiting for perfection: Yeah, I know … everyone says not to get emotionally attached to a house before you own it. It is difficult and not really entirely possible. After all, you should feel some emotional attachment or the house is just not appealing to you. But do strive to stay as detached as you can until you are in escrow (breathe a sigh of relief and get a little more excited), have negotiated to remove your inspection contingency (more excited) and finally gotten the loan together (now you can almost fall in love).
Once you have signed your escrow documents and your loan is funded, you can go gaga over your new home.
In today’s market, though, the reality is you are far more likely to offer on several houses before you finally have an offer accepted. Keeping an even keel through this process is greatly beneficial to your sanity and will help you avoid overpaying out of desperation.
The reverse is also true. If you wait for the perfect house, it will almost certainly never show up. Make a list of “must haves" and “nice to haves” so that you can best determine what is and is not negotiable in your new home.
Naturally there are many other pitfalls for first time homebuyers, but these are the three I see most often. Find yourself an agent that you like and that is knowledgeable and experienced in your market, and trust their expertise. That advice alone will help you go far.
Note: Doug Fuller is a local real estate agent; he can answer questions about home-buying at @eastbayrealtor or doug at dougfuller[.]net.