Home buying can be an intimidating process. There’s so much to know and there seems to be so many different answers to the same questions: How much money do you need for a down payment? Is it a good time to buy? Will mortgage rates go down? Having the right agent can make all the difference between finding the home of your dreams or thinking back on the process with a lot of “what ifs…” If you’re a first time home buyer in Richmond, CA, here’s what you need to know to get started.
- Find a Reputable Real Estate Agent – As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot to know about being a first-time home buyer in Richmond, CA. From finances to market updates to making a competitive offer to home inspections and more, you’ll need someone who you can trust 100% and who will be responsive to your questions and concerns. Now don’t just hire your Aunt Sally because she’s family or Mr. Real Estate Ad because his face is on a mailer. The real way to connect with a reputable real estate agent is to do an online review search. You wouldn’t go to a new restaurant on a whim… how much more important is hiring a great Realtor®?!? Hop on Google or check out Zillow. Type in Richmond, CA in the search bar or a specific agent’s name and look at how many 5 star reviews pop up. No reviews or low reviews are a good warning sign and obviously, the more 5-star reviews, the better. For example, on Zillow Rick Fuller has over 1,018 5-star reviews.
- Get Your Finances in Order – After you find a great Realtor®, meet with your lender. If you don’t have a lender, then your real estate agent should be able to give you the names of professional lenders that they’ve worked with and would recommend. Don’t underestimate the importance of this decision! Not all mortgage loan officers are created equal. A great one will help you to get the best mortgage rates possible, they’ll give you advice on how to improve your credit, and they’ll get back to you in a timely manner.
They’ll also give you the roadmap to what you need to do to get your finances in order as a first time home buyer in Richmond, CA. You’ll need to get your W2s, pay stubs, and bank statements in order so that you can get pre approved. Pre approval is critical at this step so you’ll know what your price range is and when you’re ready to purchase, you can act quickly. Few things are more disappointing than falling in love with a home you can’t afford or missing out on that perfect home because you didn’t have your paperwork lined up correctly.
- The Search is On! – This is the exciting part: home shopping! A great real estate agent will have their pulse on your local market and will be able to set clear expectations on the current local market. As a first time home buyer in Richmond, CA, you’ll need a clear picture of what the competition is like, how many homes are on the market, and if homes are going at, under, or over asking. Moreover, you’ll need to create a list of non-negotiables and what your wish list would look like. For example, living within one hour of work may be non-negotiable, but you may be willing to compromise with a three bedroom home versus that four bedroom home. Or perhaps you love a neighborhood that’s out of your price range. Your agent may expand your search area so that you can get more items on your wish list without breaking the budget.
- Make an Offer – The best agents will be able to draw up a competitive offer. Too low and your offer will be rejected or you’ll lose to a higher offer. Too high and you may be spending extra money over the actual value. And let’s talk terms and contingencies; depending on the market, the seller may want a rent back or you may have to negotiate the price if the roof needs replacing or the carpet is damaged. An experienced real estate agent will work on behalf of your best interests.
- Lots of Paperwork and Waiting – After you make an offer, there’s a lot of work that will be done behind office doors and with a team of professionals. Now is the time when you meet with your loan officer to lock in your mortgage rate, set loan terms, and gather any necessary documents for your purchase. A home inspector will visit the property and look it over for any problems that may arise such as termite damage, if there are obvious cracks in the foundation, or if there is visible mold. An appraisal will let you know if your purchase price is competitive with fair market value, that its price falls within your loan guidelines, and it also provides a clear title for transfer of ownership. Finally, your documents will be verified to ensure that they are in compliance and that all of the information is present and correct.
- Finally, it’s Time to Close on Your New Home! – Get that fresh new pen ready, because you’re going to need a lot of ink to sign this novel’s worth of paperwork. This is when funds are transferred, title is transferred, and you receive the keys! Woohoo!
Clearly you need the right team of professionals on your side when you’re a first-time home buyer in Richmond, CA. That’s why the Rick Fuller Team strives to give every client, “an experience you’d be excited to tell a friend about.” We live where you live and know the area. Furthermore, we have a team of reputable lenders, home inspectors, painters, insurance brokers, landscapers and more that can help you have a smooth transition into homeownership. Being a first-time home buyer in Richmond, CA isn’t easy, but having the right people on your side