Buying a home is one of the highest achievements one can brag of. Securing your future with equity in a home is a path to early retirement and future choices based on financial stability. Buying a home in the wine country can also seem overwhelming and confusing. A seller’s market is robust and requires a buyer to be informed, educated and prepared. Most people hop on to the internet and arm themselves with mis-information, put the cart before the horse and waist copious amounts of time – they learn just enough to be dangerous. Before they’ve figure it out, 6 months have gone by. That’s 6 months of lost equity.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to purchase a home in a timely manor. Follow the steps in the order listed and you will likely be living in your new home within 60-90 days!
- Knowledge is power when it comes to understanding what your budget is. Most of the Wine Country’s real estate is dictated by the current seller’s market. Thus, your budget becomes an essential tool for you to get focused on the homes or property you can afford. Speak to a mortgage broker. If you don’t know one, get a referral from your friends.
- If you have a partner or another decision maker, sit down with one another and talk about budget, location, timing. How do you envision your life 5 years from now and 10 years from now and how does this house purchase fit in? Warning, skipping this step will cost 3 months of wasted time.
- Create a relationship with a Realtor now. This is a very important step and often overlooked or postponed. Your relationship with your Realtor will be the number one reason your purchase succeeds or fails. Whether you find a Realtor online, via a personal referral or at an open house, ask to spend time with the Realtor. Schedule an appointment with a face-to-face meeting. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions about the current market, hear suggestions for preparation to purchase and get a general feel for compatibility AND gives your Realtor the opportunity to learn more about what you’re looking for and your budget. At the end of the this conversation you should expect to feel pretty comfortable with the Realtor’s communication style and ability to transfer relevant information to you. You could possibly also leave with a plan on how to move forward if you feel you are a good match for one another. At this point you could set up an appointment for viewing homes as well.
- Write a list of ‘must haves’ and ’nice to have’ features for the home you will purchase. This is very important to do BEFORE you start looking at homes. Homes have the ability to emotionally sway you. Armed with a check list you can make an informed decision if you are swayed yet willing to let go of one of your ‘must haves’.
- Give your Realtor the Mortgage Broker’s contact information and the pre-approval letter you received verifying your loan terms and spending limit.
- Speak with your Realtor about setting up an online listing update search for homes that meet your criteria. These emails will come to you when a new home that meets your search criteria comes on the market. Visit these homes with your Realtor or at a Sunday Open House. Received the same kind of updates of ‘sold’ homes will inform you of what the homes with your parameters sell for and how long they were on the market.
- Drive to homes that interest you and check out the neighborhood. The is a very good use of your time and eliminates viewing homes in the neighborhoods that don’t appeal to you.
- When visiting homes with your Realtor you have the opportunity to be educated about the neighborhood and home as well as how the home meets your overall check list. This also gives the Realtor the opportunity to listen to your likes and dislikes.
- By the time you’ve seen 10 to 15 homes you should be able to make an informed decision as to whether to write an offer on any of the 15 homes you saw or any house that comes on the market.
- Remember, in a sellers market it’s a process of elimination not a process of selection and in a buyer’s market it’s a process of selection not elimination. This is largely due to the amount of available inventory. Rarely does a home have everything on your checklist. Be clear what items on your check list are ‘must haves’ and ’nice to have’. The next step would be to submit an offer. In a seller’s market time is of the essence. Don’t hesitate to let your Realtor know you’d like to submit an offer. Once your offer is accepted you’ll need to tap into your Realtor’s expertise and careful guidance. Every question is a good question. Realtor ‘lingo’ is sometimes a little nebulous and without context. Ask if you don’t understand. Hopefully with in 30 days or so you’ll have a smile on your face and the keys to your new house. Good luck!