There is plenty of advice around, available to new homebuyers, - no shortage of good words, must-do's, encouragements, explanations and training, etc... I do not mean to be comprehensive in this blog, but I just wanted to say a few things coming to mind, in light of what is going on out there: the current local market, fast-going environment, competitive to the extreme, sometimes ruthless.
Taking a bit of perspective, I just wanted to throw some ideas out there and remind of some basic main ideas:
- Home buying doesn’t begin with home searching; it begins with a mortgage pre-approval. Often, first-time home buyers fear getting pre-approved because they’re afraid the lender may tell them they do not qualify for a mortgage or they qualify for a loan smaller than expected. However, by getting preapproved, buyers will make a financial decision rather than an emotion one. Also, knowing that they can qualify for a certain loan (depending on the terms of the loan), they will feel more confident in their endeavor, as they will be sure of what they can really buy (in $), as they are looking at homes.
- Home buyers need to think of a house as a long-term commitment. If a buyer may have to switch jobs in a year or two and may have to move for the job, they should think twice about buying a house. Ideally, buyers should picture themselves living in the house for five to seven years.
- Should a buyer have to move after a few years, following the above train of thoughts, they may want to think in terms of an investment for the long term: a "retirement account" - they could rent out the property. Just saying it is a possibility for people thinking "long term". (see this article from the LA Times)
- Some first-time buyers make the mistake of spending all of their savings on the down payment and closing costs, and sometimes borrow on their 401K. However, it is not good to be left with no savings at all for home repairs and other unexpected expenses. It could make more sense to get in the market with a smaller property, i.e. a condominium/townhouse, and move up 3 to 5 years later.
- Should there be a lot of competition for the chosen house, give it your very best. 1/ there will be no regrets should it not pan out, 2/ chances are that in a year or two, you will not remember exactly the price you paid, 3/ there is a cost in searching for too long a time, both psychological and monetary; or I should say there is "savings" in just getting it done earlier rather than later: interest rates can go up, prices can go up, and moving into your new home is much better than looking for it week after week.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and if you like what you read, let your friends know!
FrancisSilicon Valley real estate specialist
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