Guide to Buying a Home

The Early Bird’s Guide to Buying a Home

By Daniel Bortz

Edited by Sabrina

 

Planning to buy a home this year?  Then – is the time to get rolling.

“Spring is peak home-buying season, which means you’re going to have a ton of competition from other buyers,” says Peggy Yee, supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, VA. Hence, winter is the ideal time to get ahead of the curve.  But life happens when you make other plans.  Regardless of when you want to buy – follow these steps and you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

Step No. 1: Find a buyer’s agent

Teaming up with a Realtor is your first step.  For starters, an agent can take the time to help you identify what type of home you want and educate you on the local market so that you’ll have realistic expectations of what you’ll be able to find in a few months.

Also, “your agent may hear of properties that are going to come on the market or sold off market, which could enable you to get a sneak peek at homes before other buyers.”

To find a real estate agent, you can ask friends or family for referrals, or use a reputable real estate database.

“If you’re laser-focused on a specific neighborhood, you’ll want to work with a neighborhood specialist—someone who knows the community like the back of their hand,” Yee advises.

Step No. 2: Get your financing squared away

Before you even lay eyes on a house, you should be looking at lenders. Why? Because lenders will help you get real about how much house you can afford. They will determine how much money they’re willing to lend you by checking out your financial details, from your income to your credit score and more. Plus, if your finances are less than perfect, you’ll be able to find out in plenty of time to make amends.

“Depending on what shape your credit is in, it may take a couple of months to raise your score,” says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”

There’s no magic spell to banish poor credit; the strategy will depend on your financial situation.

“For some people, it might make sense to pay off their credit card balances over the next couple of months, but that might not be the right move if you’re going to need the money for closing costs,” Redmond explains. Thus, it’s beneficial to get credit advice from a mortgage professional at least two to three months before you plan to buy.

If your credit score is strong (760 and above will qualify you for the best interest rates), getting pre-approved for a home loan now makes sense.

“Pre-approval is usually only good for 90 days,” says Redmond, “but it’s easy to renew it if the borrower’s financial picture doesn’t change. And when interest rates are trending upward, which they currently are, it’s better to lock in your rate sooner rather than later.”  And remember – you don’t lock a rate until you have an accepted offer.  Now that’s a whole other blog.

Step No. 3: Start previewing homes

You’ll probably do an initial consultation with your agent to identify what type of home you want to buy. However, you won’t really know what type of home you’re looking for until you actually step inside some homes, says Lisa Cahill, co-owner of Evolve Real Estate in St. Petersburg, FL.

“Your criteria can change when you start to look at properties,” says Cahill. For example, you might think you need a home with 2,500 square feet of living space, but that number could change when you start seeing homes in person. Your real estate agent can alert you to open houses to attend so you get a feel of homes on your own.  As you would in your own life.

Step No. 4: Scrutinize prospective neighborhoods

Have your sights set on a particular neighborhood? Check it out – to see if the community is going to be a good fit.

“You can tell whether an area has good schools on paper, but there are a lot of things you can’t judge unless you go there in person,” says Cahill.

For instance, online research won’t show you what the noise level is during rush hour or what the neighbors are like (e.g., is it more for young families or older residents?). Those are things that you need to assess with your own eyes. Concerned about traffic? “Go and test-drive your commute,” says Yee.

Step No. 5: Don’t rule out buying early or later

Even if you had originally planned to buy later in the spring, what if you find a home you absolutely love earlier or later? If you’re willing and able to move earlier or later, then keep an open mind with respect to buying a home.

If you’re thinking of buying this year – let’s sit down and chat.  I’m sure you have questions and we probably have the answer – and if we don’t we know who does.  Contact the Caton Team for a free Real Estate consultation.

 

I read this article at: http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/early-birds-guide-buying-home/?identityID=9851214&MID=2017_0217_WeeklyNL&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2017-0217-WeeklyNL-blog_2_earlybirdbuying-blogs_buy

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TheCatonTeam

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

 

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Help Clients Avoid House-Hunting Drama

Help Clients Avoid House-Hunting Drama

The Caton Team’s two cents is added in italics.

“Moving is one of the most stressful situations that a person can go through,” says Frank Schofield, an associate broker with Summit REALTORS® in Northern Virginia. “It’s one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most stressful.”

To make the house-hunt a little less stressful, real estate pros offer the following tips:

  1. Determine what you want upfront, and stick to that criteria.

What are your non-negotiables? What location do you desire? What educational opportunities are important? What do you want your daily commute to be? And what price are you willing to pay? “The first step to avoid house hunting drama is to really sit back and think about what is most important to you,” advises Jason Mitchell, founder and president of Jason Mitchell Real Estate. “This will narrow down your scope so you are not looking at hundreds of homes, just the ones that fit in your criteria. … Looking in an area that’s not going to provide the home type that you want is going to cause frustration.”

Being focused is most important. It is also easier said than done, especially if this is your first purchase. The Caton Team suggests you start with a broad scope when you first start off. We like to cover as many options for the start and work our way down quickly to a manageable list.

  1. Get preapproved for a mortgage.

Avoid delays once you do find a home by getting your loan preapproved. “If there is any issue, it is identified early on in the process and not the moment that you’re trying to submit a contract on the property,” says Schofield. Also, you’ll know your numbers and how much to expect on a monthly payment to make sure you’re house-shopping within your price range.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. So important – The Caton Team suggests you get pre-approved even before we meet. Knowing how much mortgage you qualify for, knowing any defects on the credit report before the hunt even starts ensures a smooth experience. And it helps us bring into focus what is most important, where that is and what it looks like in a home. 

  1. Communicate.

Share with your real estate agent the biggest stressors and fears you have in the home-buying process. “The more open the client is with the agent, the less drama is going to present itself in the transaction,” says Schofield. “You have to trust your agent and relate to them as a confidant, as an ally.”

We couldn’t agree more. Being comfortable with your Realtors takes some of the stress off the situation. It helps us too! If we feel we have open communication and trust – truly we (The Caton Team and you) can move mountains.

  1. Don’t linger too long.

“Believe me, procrastination causes drama,” Schofield says. For home buyers on a deadline, Schofield recommends beginning four to six months ahead of time to start learning more about the market. Plus, with mortgage rates forecasted to move higher this year, buyers who wait too long may find what they can afford lessen. “Have the right expectations, or else you’re setting yourself up for frustration,” Schofield says.

I always tell my clients – we are shopping now – with today’s rates, prices and market AND IT WILL CHANGE. Therefore together we plan accordingly.

 The Caton Team knows how much patience and work it takes for our clients to buy a home. We are happy to sit down, answer you questions and prepare a plan to turn your dreams into reality. How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2017/01/03/help-clients-avoid-house-hunting-drama?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BYa-g2B9W3LGkZ&om_ntype=RMODaily

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TheCatonTeam

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

Buyer Cheat Sheet for a Seller’s Market – TAKE NOTE!

Hello Blog Readers – I jumped for joy when I read this article and thought I’d share it!  Read on if you want to be an owner and not just a buyer in this Bay Area Real Estate Market!

 

Buyer Cheat Sheet for a Seller’s Market

 

In a seller’s market, home buyers need to be willing and able to act fast to snag the home they want. This spring, areas across the country are facing a limited number of homes for sale. Realtor.com® offers up a cheat sheet for surviving a seller’s market.

  • Be on call. “If you’re only looking now and then when it’s convenient, you’re probably wasting your time,” says James Malmberg, a real estate professional in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He suggests treating house hunting like job hunting. If someone calls with a lead, follow up promptly to gauge whether it could be a good fit and don’t linger.

I have to laugh – I just texted my buyers to show them a house BEFORE the open house!  Waiting till the weekend doesn’t work!  Get out and see homes during the week – when you competition doesn’t even know about the house.

  • Bring the paperwork. To be taken seriously, buyers would be wise to get a mortgage pre-approval letter as well as a “proof of funds” form from their bank to show they have enough to cover a down payment. They’ll be able to act quicker when they do find the right house.

This is where I draw the line.  The Caton Team will not show property to a buyer until they are totally pre-approved.  I know this might sound mean – but when you go house hunting – guess what?  You will find a house!  And in order to compete with other offers – you need to have that loan DONE!  There is not time to get approved when you find the one – we hardly have time to review disclosures and write the offer.  So – if you truly want to become an owner – you need to get pre approved, submit all the necessary documentation and then – you are ready to buy!

  • Limit the contingencies. In a seller’s market, buyers may need to drop some of the contingencies to score the house. Sellers prefer the fewest number of hurdles to closing as possible. If your buyers come in with several contingencies — such as “if” they secure financing — the sellers are more inclined to bypass their offer and take another with less hassle. Also, “don’t waste your time lowballing a seller,” advises Sean Kelley, a real estate professional with Howard Hannah in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Always put in an aggressive offer.”

INDEED – The Caton Team will inform our buying clients as to where the market could take the offer.  You must put your best foot forward – because you may not get a chance at a counter offer.  As for contingencies – each home has its own story – and we approach each offer the same way.  Depending on how many inspections and disclosures are provided in advance will guide each client on how to tackle contingencies.  

Cast a wide net. Search for homes outside prime locations if faced with limited or high-priced choices. Buyers need to carefully consider what they’re willing to compromise on. “Sometimes properties sit, even in a seller’s market, because of a problem that is scaring other buyers away,” such as some renovation work that may need to be done, Malmberg says. Those “flaws,” however, might not be a big deal to your buyers. “Finding a house this way can also cut down on the amount of competition you will face,” Malmberg adds.

As I always say – buying a home is a processes of elimination – not a process of selection.  So look up, look down, look side to side.  Consider areas that are close to your target but may be overlooked.  You won’t know what you’re missing till you try.

The Caton Team is happy to sit down with anyone thinking of buying and discuss the market, how to save, how to be prepared to buy and come up with a plan that works for you!  How can the Caton Team help you? 

Thanks for reading! – Sabrina

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2016/04/08/buyer-cheat-sheet-for-sellers-market?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BXGTFCB9Mw0oOt&om_ntype=NARWeekly

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR INSTAGRAM PAGE: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008