Buying your first home is seldom easy. It can (and usually does) test your patience, your endurance, and your resilience – and there are many ways the whole process can slide sideways, resulting in a missed opportunity or (even worse) a purchase you come to regret. And that’s why most first-time buyers will benefit from a little help and guidance. With that in mind, we offer these 5 solutions to help anyone buy their first home in Alameda County.
1. Make Sure You’re Ready to Buy That First Home
Your very first step toward buying your first home in Alameda County should be to determine whether you are really ready to do it. “Homeownership is a lot more expensive than renting since you’re responsible for added costs like home repairs, utility costs, garbage pickup, water, and electricity. You also need to pay for taxes and insurance related to your home. These costs add up quickly, and if you are not financially prepared, you may end up in a bad position.”
Take a look, then, at your debt and begin reducing it in order to be in a better position to afford all the costs of buying and owning your first home in Alameda County. Also, you can determine your readiness to buy a home by setting up – and sticking to – a budget that parallels the costs of homeownership. If you’re able to stick to it and put all the money set aside in savings for a few months, then you likely are ready to buy that first home.
2. Get Preapproved Early On
Now, after determining your readiness to buy and ability to afford the costs of ownership, you should get preapproved for a mortgage loan. In fact, you should apply for preapproval before you even start shopping for a first home in Alameda County.
“A mortgage preapproval is a lender’s offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. Having a preapproval letter shows home sellers and real estate agents that you’re a serious buyer, and can give you an edge over home shoppers who haven’t taken this step yet.”
3. Understand Your Loan Options
Also, in buying your first home in Alameda County, you should shop for lenders. Don’t just jump at the first offer of a loan from a lender because you may be able to get a better deal elsewhere.
In addition, it’s a good idea to have some understanding of the various loan options in order to know what is best for your situation. Are you, for example, aware of the various options that will allow you to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI)? These are . . .
- A conventional mortgage with a 20% down payment
- USDA loan/VA loan – zero down payment programs
- FHA loan – 3.5% down payment often without PMI requirement
- 80/10/10– “10% down payment with 10% as a second mortgage to avoid PMI, which in turn lowers the monthly rate, more often than not”
Your Alameda County real estate agent can provide some assistance in this area. To discover more, just call (408) 893-1866 .
4. Choose the Right House and Neighborhood
Sure, you want to buy a Alameda County first home that ticks as many items on your have-to-have and want-to-have lists as possible. But keep in mind that the neighborhood is just as important as the home itself. For you aren’t just buying a home – you’re also buying into the neighborhood. So here are a couple of things to be mindful of . . .
“Think about your long-term needs and whether a starter home or forever home will meet them best. If you plan to start or expand your family, it may make sense to buy a home with extra room to grow. Check out potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, and test out the commute to work during rush hour.”
5. Find the Right Agent
And, certainly, one of the most important solutions for buying your first home in Alameda County is having the right agent in your corner. “The agent/buyer bond is particularly strong with first-time homebuyers .. . as the buyers often need extra detailed explanations of each step in the process. This certainly takes more time, effort, and patience on the part of the agent, and not all agents are naturals in this department. It’s important to feel comfortable with your agent like you can ask questions and get reliable answers.”
But finding an agent who can and will do these things typically requires a lot of time researching and interviewing several agents to find the one who is the best fit for you. There is, though, an easier and better way. And that is to go with an agency known for agents who have the necessary experience and expertise, as well as the willingness to do what clients need. So if you’re ready to buy that first home in Alameda County, contact us today at (408) 893-1866 .