Are you thinking, maybe, just maybe you are ready to buy a house? Or buy another house? A bigger, nicer house? If that’s you, here are 5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to get prepared.
Get prepared!! As much as you love cruising Zillow for available properties (and going to open houses when there’s no pandemic), if you are truly serious about buying a house there’s a lot you can do to prepare – most of which does not cost anything and will make your life so much easier when you actually do find a house you love (and can afford). If you are looking at houses and seriously thinking you are ready to buy, do yourself a huge favor and check the following boxes.
1. Show me the money!!
In order to buy a house, you must know two numbers: how much can you afford and how much you are comfortable spending. These are not always the same number and just because you can afford more doesn’t mean you want to lie awake at night worrying about your mortgage. The absolute best way to know your numbers is to talk to a lender and have them run a credit check and do a full analysis of your income and debt. Your real estate agent should be able to refer you to lenders at different lending institutions (banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers). If you want more detailed information about how lenders qualify buyers, please read our blog post titled “What Does It Mean To Get Pre Approved?”.
2. Consider your WANTS vs your NEEDS
This one is tricky since many buyers (especially first time buyers) don’t really know the difference between what they want and they really need. And, all too often, when we start out to buy a house, we think something is a need but then, after looking at so many houses (and what they cost), we discover that much of what we thought we need turns out to be things we actually want but can live without… Which leads us to the next item on the list.
3. Prepare to compromise
Believe it or not, very few people in the Bay Area get what they want. It is very expensive here and there are many factors that we have to consider when purchasing a home. These are the 5 most often discussed compromises we all make here in the Bay Area:
- Size of home (and to some degree, size if lot)
- Distance to work/amenities (has been adjusted during the pandemic)
- Public school district (some chose private schools)
- Condition of the home
4. Get a real estate agent you trust and lean in
A real estate agent can be a huge asset if you trust them and are willing to invite them into the process. Let’s be real. . . there are lots of real estate agents out there. But we promise you, not all real estate agents are created equal. Here in the Bay Area you will greatly benefit from working with an agent who has the experience and expertise to get you the house you want. With all the third party search platforms like Zillow and Redfin and Realtor.com, it is no longer a function of finding you the right house. I guarantee that just about every qualified buyer already has alerts set up on their phone and a second monitor at their desk exclusively devoted to their favorite real estate search engine. In fact, because we are often out in the field preparing and showing houses, you will likely know about new listings before we do.
5. IT IS ABOUT WINNING!!
We recently had a client say to us, “It’s not all about winning”. This statement struck us as odd because, if you are actively searching for houses and inventory is tight and there is lots of competition, what is it all about if it is not all about winning? Seriously.
Low inventory and high demand means multiple offers – it’s a reality we all have to deal with here in the Bay Area (most of the time). In order to get the house you want, you want to be working with an agent who knows how to help sort through the paperwork, interpret the information and present you and your offer so that you will be in a position to get your offer accepted! Believe it or not, having someone with experience and know-how on your team will make a huge difference. So, instead of working with the listing agent (the sellers’ agent) or deciding to work with your dog groomer who just got their license last year so they can work part time in real estate, do some research online and look for someone who has invested the time and has the experience to help you make well grounded decisions and get the house you want.
Of course, we don’t want any of our clients to overpay for a house, but we also don’t want to see our clients lose out on a property that they genuinely want to buy and we have the experience and know-how to get the properties our clients want.
If you have any questions or you want to chat with us about any of the information above, please feel free to reach out to us directly. Seriously, we love talking to people and answering questions – no matter how many you’ve got – even the ones you are feeling uncomfortable asking. It’s okay. Just pick up the phone and call – or text. We’re happy to help.