Buying a home is a dream for many, but there are a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re ready to make your first purchase.

While the process can seem confusing and intimidating at times, understanding the process can help you be more prepared.

Buying a home in California takes some focus, determination, and a healthy partnership with an experienced realtor.

Here are a few helpful tips for first time home buyers.

1. Establish a budget.

One of the first things to do is to think about what kind of home you’d like to have. Take some time to review current real estate listings in order to find homes that offer the amenities and features that appeal to your own wants and needs.

This will help you understand what it may cost to purchase the home you’re looking for. From there, it’s time to consider your budget.

You have to not only think about your monthly mortgage payments, but also monthly utility bills, homeowner association fees, insurance, lawn maintenance, and other associated costs.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your estimated monthly home-related expenses do not exceed a quarter of your regular take-home pay.

2. Start saving now.

Once you’ve decided what you want, it’s a good idea to start saving for your down payment if you haven’t already. Most home down payments can be around 20 percent of the sale price or more.

It’s a good idea to sit down with a member of your bank, credit union or other lending organization to discuss your goals.

They should be able to find a mortgage situation that’s ideal for your budget. With their help, you may qualify for a substantially lower down payment or better interest rate on your future loan.

You should also get pre-approval for a loan so that you’re ready when that once-in-a-lifetime property goes on the market.

Make sure that you read the terms and conditions of any loan paperwork so you’re not surprised by any hidden fees or unusually high-interest rates.

3. Find the right neighborhood.

Another recommendation is to do your research and find the right neighborhood for you.


East Elk Grove [95624]West Elk Grove [95757]
West Elk Grove [95758]Galt | Wilton

Besides the actual physical area, see how close the property is to local schools, doctors’ offices or hospitals, shopping centers, and other amenities.

Traffic congestion and crime rates are also important considerations. Look at property values and the number of new homes and other buildings that have been, or are being built in the area recently.

This is a good indication that such homes will only increase in demand and value over the next few years.

4. Look at things from a long term perspective.

A home is not only a place to live today but also an investment in the future for you and your family. It’s a place you may choose to live for the majority of the rest of your life.

You want a home in a good neighborhood that offers all the space and functionality that you and your family require.

If you enjoy renovation, you may want to buy a property that could use a little work. You can make renovations to create a perfect living environment.

Renovations are not only functional but also can add value to your home over time. If you prefer a house as is, attend open houses for properties in areas where you’d like to live.

Feel free to ask questions that you may have, and start thinking about possibilities.

5. Don’t forget about closing costs!

In addition to the mortgage, down payment and other home ownership costs, you also have to factor in closing costs when you’re ready to buy a home.

Closing costs can range anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the overall purchase price and include such things as:

  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Attorney or settlement fees
  • Home inspection
  • Surveying fees
  • Reporting fees

All of these fees above and others may be part of your closing costs. Talk to your realtor so that you understand them. They should be clearly spelled out in the title paperwork.

6. Make an offer when you’re ready.

When you’ve found a home that feels right for you, it’s time to make an offer. Your offer should be competitive and within your budget.

Realize that other interested parties may already be placing offers on the same property, so be prepared to provide an offer that’s fair and stands out above the rest.

Be careful not to act on impulse. If you make an offer that’s too low, it may not be considered seriously.

If your offer is too high, you may pay much more than the house is worth. Take a little time to come up with the right offer, and don’t be afraid to negotiate as needed later on.

7. Practice patience as you wait for the closing process

Most home closings can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days or more.

Some delays can be due to minor repairs or renovations for items found during the home inspection, time for paperwork to be processed or waiting for the home seller’s offer on their new residence to go through before your sale can proceed.

Practice patience and keep calm. Be prepared to review all closing documents and ask any relevant questions before you sign them.

It can take a few days to weeks before you receive your copies of the paperwork and keys to your new home, but the wait is definitely well worth it.

The thought of buying a home can be very stressful. There’s a lot of things to do and keep in mind.

Being proactive and setting goals can alleviate a lot of the stress, worry and anxiety associated with the process.

Stay focused and be ready to address challenges or issues with your agent as they come. You’ll soon be on your way to owning a home that you’ll be proud to call your own.

Have Questions? Give Leslie a Call!

Give Leslie Stirewalt a call today at 916-548-8629 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.

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