Make this year the time you buy a home or the year you set yourself up to buy one. Maybe you’re currently a renter, or you’re in a home that no longer fits your lifestyle. Either way, we’re here to help you, using our home buyer’s action plan.
Start with your finances
What is your current financial situation? Is your savings plan sporadic or do you consistently set a portion of each paycheck aside for your future home?
Creating and sticking to a budget is the first step to saving more money. Even if you don’t think you currently have enough disposable income, with a little work it’s easier than you think to cut back on your expenses.
Take a look at what you’re currently spending and take note. Determine:
- What’s essential vs. non-essential
- What’s recurring vs. random/one-time
- What expenses are realistic vs. ones that could be replaced with cheaper options
Once you’ve identified what’s what when it comes to your spending habits, figure out which can be cut out completely and which can be scaled back. Create a new budget and then get creative in order to meet it.
Rent and car payments are going to be the same every month, but your grocery bills can be cut down by shopping at a grocery outlet or buying less to prevent waste. Switching to a new cell phone provider could cut down on your monthly costs. Instead of hitting the drive-through Starbucks on your way to work, make your own coffee at home, and pack your lunch while you’re at it. No, you don’t have to stop putting avocados on your salads. This is Southern California, after all!
With a few lifestyle changes, buying a Southern California home can be within your reach.
Hold on to your savings
Once you’ve spent a few months cutting back on non-essential expenses for a few months, take a look at how much you’ve been saving on average each month, and then start automatically saving that amount each month. This will eventually become your down payment.
Ask for assistance
Getting married? Having a baby? Celebrating your birthday? That means gifts for you!
Instead of asking for traditional gifts like kitchen appliances, extra baby clothes that will soon be outgrown, and birthday dinners, inform your friends and relatives of your decision to buy a home, and request that they help contribute to your savings instead of buying you things you don’t necessarily need.
Though it might seem like a strange request at first, lots of home buyers, especially first-time buyers, are following this technique in order to expedite their purchase. Plus, your friends and family should be rooting for you and be happy to lend a hand.
As your agent, we can help you determine your needs
First, answer these basic home buyer questions. They will not only help you understand what you need, but they will also help me as your agent.
- How soon do you want to be in your new home? Knowing this will help people who are assisting you to get on your timeline. These include your agent, loan officers, appraisers, escrow officers, and even the seller.
- Who is involved in the homebuying process other than yourself? They will be involved the whole way, even if it’s a family member who is assisting with your funds. The decision-makers need to be identified, so everyone is lined up and ready to be involved when necessary.
- Does anyone have a home they need to sell first in order for you to buy? If your parents or relatives don’t have a home to sell to help you buy, my next question is, have you gone through the pre-approval process yet? Or if paying cash, do you or your family have those funds ready to present to a seller when asked? You can’t make an offer without proof of funds.
- What’s your current living situation? Are you on a lease that you have to break, are you renting month to month, still living at home? It’s important to know so you can prepare for a move.
- Do you need a home that is recently renovated and already has all or most of the features you need? Or, are you willing to move into a home that needs some updates but is ultimately move-in ready?
Some buyers don’t want to have to put in any work once they move into their new home. But with tight inventory and competitive markets, sometimes you have to think outside the box. Finding a home in a desirable area and priced lower than your budget but doesn’t necessarily check all your boxes might be the way to go. Or, maybe you do find the home of our dreams but it’s just outside your target neighborhood. Either way, making small sacrifices can save you money or shorten your search time, so don’t discount options unless you’ve weighed all the pros and cons.
As your real estate agent we can show you options out there so you can determine which ones are right for you. You might end up with more options than you had before.
Prepare to enter the market
Once you’ve saved up enough for a down payment, there are a few steps to take before you jump right into the home search.
In today’s competitive market, it’s important to be fully prepared to make an offer on a home the second you find one you like. You’ll want to get pre-qualified, which basically means determining how much you can afford, and pre-approved, which means getting your mortgage loan amount approved.
We can walk you through the process and help you determine everything needed in order to proceed. We can educate you on things like when is the best time to buy a house, what escrow is and how it works, and when closing costs are due. Plus, we partner with trusted companies that will protect you every step of the way.
You’ll want to partner with a responsible mortgage lender, like HomeServices Lending, so you’re ready to make an offer quickly and confidently.
Find your perfect
Once you’re feeling confident about what your needs are, it’s time to start searching for and touring potential homes.
Remember that even if the perfect home you’ve envisioned doesn’t exist, the potential to buy and improve upon an existing home is one of the best advantages of owning your own home.
If you’re not in a rush to buy and nothing is catching your eye, waiting can mean more time to save money for your down payment–but it also can mean a fluctuating market. Keep an open dialogue with your agent so they know what your priorities are and what your ideal timeline is so they can keep an eye on the market and know how to advise you.
Every buyer is different
This action plan is designed to help you find your perfect home, but every buyer is different. If you know you’re not going to be ready to buy this year, if after following these steps you’re still not ready at the end of the year, following this plan will still get you that much closer.
Start today and you’ll thank yourself later.
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- Initial consultation with Chrissy & Steven to evaluate your needs
As professional real estate agents, we have extensive market knowledge and will work to find the right home for you. Once we establish your needs, we will provide guidance to financial institutions where you can obtain information in order to get the best financing available.
- Identify property to Buy
We will forward you homes based upon the criteria you establish. The more precise and direct you are, the more successful your search will be.
- Determine Seller’s motivation
Once you have found the home that you wish to purchase, we can assist with the necessary research to help you structure an effective offer.
- Write offer to purchase
We will draft the Purchase Agreement and advise you on protective contingencies, customary practices, and local regulations. At this time you will need to provide an “earnest money” deposit, usually from 1 to 3% of the purchase price (the deposit is not cashed until your offer has been accepted by the Seller).
- Presentation of offer
We will present your offer to the Seller and the Seller’s agent. The Seller has three options: they can accept your offer, counter your offer, or reject your offer.
- Seller’s response
We will review the Seller’s response with you and negotiate to reach a final agreement.
- Open Escrow
When the Purchase Agreement is accepted and signed by all parties, we will assist in opening escrow for you. At this time your earnest money will be deposited. The escrow will receive, hold and disburse all funds associated with your transaction.
- Contingency time period
This is the time allowed per your Purchase Agreement to obtain financing, perform inspections, and satisfy any other contingencies to which your purchase is subject. Typical contingencies include:
- Approval of the Seller’s Transfer Disclosure Statement
- Approval of the Preliminary Report from the Title Company
- Loan approval, including an appraisal of the property
- Physical inspections of the property
- Pest inspection and certification
- Homeowner’s insurance
We can help coordinate between your Insurance Agent and the Escrow Officer to make sure your policy is in effect at close of escrow.
- Down payment funds
You will need a Cashier’s Check or money transfer several days prior to the closing date of escrow.
- Close Escrow
When all of the conditions of the Purchase Agreement have been met, you will sign your loan documents and closing papers. You will deposit the balance of your down payment and closing costs to your lender will deposit the balance of the purchase price. The Deed will then be recorded at the County Recorder’s office and you will take ownership of your home.
Lenders and Mortgage Brokers
Keep in mind, throughout the process of being approved to purchase your new home, the mortgage company is considering lending you a sizable amount of money. They are going to be sure you qualify by documenting your income, assets, liabilities and credit. If you follow their direction, they will work to make the process as quick and smooth as possible.
- Avalon Mortgage – Heidi Davlie, 858-625-8533
- Cornerstone Home Lending – Rick Sidley, 858-722-9489
- HomeServices Lending – Gian Ceretto, 619-573-5778
- Sierra Pacific Mortgage - Phil Joseph, 619-507-3558
- Watermark Home Loans – Dean Brown, 858-774-0622
Questions to Ask When Interviewing Lenders
- How long have you been in the mortgage business?
- What sets you apart?
- Why do you do what you do?
- When are you available to clients? 8-5, etc.
- Why do you work for the firm you work for?
- What percentage of your business is purchase vs. Refinance?
- If I need a pre-approval on a weekend, will I be able to reach you?
- We work during the day and it is tough to talk during business hours, can we reach you in the evening when questions come up?
- Are you always available for my questions/concerns?
- Will you be my main point of contact until the loan closes? If not, will your assistant be available to answer my questions?
- How often will you communicate with us regarding the progress of our loan?
- Once I submit my application, how long will it take to get pre-approved and the final approval?
- Are the appraisers or appraisal management companies that you company uses local?
- How are the interest rates and origination points/credits related?
- How do I know which loan product is the best for me?
- When and how do you decide to lock the interest rate?
- When can I lift the loan contingency?
- Do you charge any origination, or discount fees/points?
- What are the total lender costs, excluding taxes, escrow and title, that I will be charged for this loan?
- How often do you close on time?
School Districts and Reviews
Before you buy, learn more about school districts and individual schools serving your neighborhood choices.
Poway/Rancho Bernardo/Carmel Mountain Ranch/Rancho Penasquitos
Del Sur/4s Ranch/Santa Luz/Torrey HighLands
Scripps Ranch/Mira Mesa
Carmel Valley/Solana Beach/Del Mar
School Info and Ratings
GreatSchools’ trusted ratings and school information help parents find the right school for their family and improve schools in their communities. The thousands of articles, tips and interactive tools help parents support their child’s learning and wellbeing every day. Families, community leaders and policy-makers turn to GreatSchools for the school information they need to guide children to great futures.
More than any other single factor, when you buy a home in a good location, it’s usually a solid long-term investment.
- First impressions are lasting. Make sure it is fresh and clean.
- Let the sun shine in by opening draperies.
- Can you see the light? Turn on all your lights for an evening inspection.
- Repairs can make a big difference. Have them fixed.
- Remove all unnecessary articles. Avoid cluttered appearances.
- Decorate for a quick sale. Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal.
- Make closets look bigger. Neat, well-ordered closets show space is ample.
- Arrange bedrooms neatly. Remove excess furniture.
- Bathrooms help sell homes. Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers. Make this room sparkle.
- Fix that faucet! Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.
- Three’s a crowd. Avoid having too many people present during inspections.
- Silence is golden. Be courteous but don’t force conversation with the potential buyer.
- Turn off the blaring radio or television. Let the agent and buyer talk, free of disturbances.
- Pets underfoot? Keep them out of the way – preferably out of the house.
- Be it ever so humble. Never apologize for the appearance of your home. Let the trained salesperson answer any objections.
- Be in the background. The salesperson knows the buyer’s requirements and can better emphasize the features of your home.
- Let your us discuss price terms, possession and other factors with the buyer.
- Show your home to prospective customers only by appointment through Chrissy & Steven.
Many of you ask me about what improvements they should make before preparing to list their home. This is truly your decision and we are here to help guide you through the options. As a member of the California Association of Realtors, I just received access to this helpful infographic that I wanted to share. It shows the data behind the potential return on different home improvement projects. If you need any help deciding how to prep your home for sale, I hope you find this useful, and of course, I am here if you need me.