1 Buying a Home To Live In

The following is NOT a substitute for a using a licensed real estate agent or broker.

1 Buying a Home To Live In - Short Version:

• Get your financing "Pre Approved" not "Pre Qualified"
• Visit 10 or more homes, The more you visit the better a judge of value you will be.
• Visit 3 or more neighborhoods in your price range. Remember, you're not only buying a home but into a neighborhood with all its benefits and flaws.
• Pick a home you will grow into, not out of.
• Base your offer price on how much similar homes in the same neighborhood recently sold for.
• Have the home thoroughly inspected by professionals before removing contingencies.

1 Buying A Home To Live In - Long Version:

a)  Get your financing Pre-Approved, not Pre-qualified before going house shopping.  You don't want any last minute suprises.  Find out how much you qualify to buy through a reputable loan broker or bank.  If you don't have any lenders in mind, I can refer a few.

b)  Pick a city and neighborhood.  Consider what is important to you and find where you want to live. Don't forget to look at crime statistics.  If you plan on commuting, check out your commute time by taking the drive or transit when you normally would.  Check out your potential new neighbors by knocking on their door and introducing yourself and ask any questions of the neighborhood you wish.  Visit the local places that will be an important part of your life.  Whether this is the local school, church, park, BART station, gym, cafes, whatever.  Remember, you’re not only buying a house (or condo) you’re buying into the neighborhood, the community with all its benefits and flaws.  Visit the neighborhood on Friday and Saturday night.  Ghosts and riff-raff, if any, come out at night.

c)  Search homes for sale.  The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the most up to date data source when looking for available homes for sale. You can access this through
my website. Other websites on the internet such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and others show homes for sale but the information sometimes isn't as current as using MLS directly where it pulls from.  As you see ones you like, we will view them together in person.  Sometimes appointments are necessary but mostly these homes are accessible with my lockbox key.  Visit and look at no less than 10 homes in the same price range.  The more homes you see the better a judge of value you will be.  I will never rush you to pick a home.
d)  Consider things you can change in the home if you find the location of your dreams but the home is not up to your standards.
Renovating kitchens typically cost from 5% to 10% of the cost of the home (+/-) depending on how elaborate. Bathrooms often cost $5,000 and up for a complete remodel and $12,000 and up to add one. A new roof can cost from $12,000 to over $20,000 (+/-) for a medium size home depending on exact size, pitch, quality, accessibility, location etc.The prices I suggested are generalizations.  I strongly recommend getting actual bids from reputable licensed contractors if the interest arises.If you like mature landscaping you may want to buy a home that already has it because shrubs can take 5+ years from planting to mature and trees can take 15 to over 50 years to mature.
e)  Consider how long you will be living in the home and your future needs.  People typically live in three homes they purchase.  Stats say you live in your first home 10 years, your second home 20 years and then the home you live your retirement years in.  If it’s your first home buy a little extra.  Buy a home you will grow in to, not one you will grow out of.  If it’s the home for your retirement years, be sure your knees and sense of balance will be happy in years to come.

f)  How much should you pay for the home?  This is mostly governed by market conditions, competition from other buyers and how much you qualify to buy.  Always look at numerous other homes in the same neighborhood and in the same price range for fair comparisons.  How much the home sells for is not based on the asking price, but how much similar homes in the same neighborhood recently sold for and how well the home is presented.  Don't settle for less than makes you happy but don't lose the home of your dreams for a few dollars. From my experience as both a home owner and real estate broker, in years to come, there will be many reasons the home you purchased and lived in will have been good or bad for you but seldom will the last $5,000 or $10,000 you paid or saved be one of those reasons.

g)  Have the home inspected prior to removing contingencies.  Typical California home purchasing contracts will have grace periods to inspect the home and arrange financing prior to full commitment to purchasing the home.  California Association of Realtors home purchasing contracts have this unless waived.  Consult your real estate agent, hopefully me, for full details.

I recommend the following 3 inspections at a minimum and often more.  All three inspections combined typically cost $500 to $900 depending on the home's size and location.

General home inspection:  Overly looks at plumbing, electrical, HVAC, noticeably worn, broken or improper items needing repair or replacement.  Cost of repairs are not given, and must be obtained from independent bids. Although these inspections don't inspect every inch of the home, they are typically pretty thorough and do provide an excellent overall professional view and opinion of the general condition of the home.

Pest inspection:  Identifies damage caused by water or moisture such as dry rot, mold, mildew, moss, fungus and so on, and critters such as termites, boring beetles, bees, mice, rats, bats and so on.  Cost of repairs and/or extermination are given.

Roof inspection:  Identifies needed roof repairs and estimates, also estimates the remaining usable life of the roof. Cost of any needed repairs are usually given.

Other inspections available:  Sometimes additional target specific inspections are warranted, suggested in other inspections or simply wanted. Some examples are: testing for lead base paint, asbestos, specific types of mold, radon gas, soil movement or soundness, foundation soundness, chimney soundness, tree disease and numerous other inspections. you may choose to have done.

What to expect from inspections:  Inspectors typically find various things needing repair in a home.  It’s their job.  It is your opinion and decision if the needed repairs are too scary or costly to proceed with the purchase.  If needed repairs are too extensive and obvious, most banks won’t loan on the property.

Conclusion:  The more homes you look at the more knowledgeable you will be with regards to price, value, style and condition of available homes in your price range.  If you are blessed with the luxury, let your loved ones voice an opinion.  Always get the home inspected.  I promise will help you find a home of good value with little to no surprises.  I will help you with all of this and more.  Simply ask.

20 Years Experience and Counting
A+ BBB 13 Years and Counting
Questions? Call me 707 332-8301

or e-mail me Alex@NEWSTANDARDREALTY.com

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