Marin First-Time Home Buyer Guide

Over the past 30 years we have worked with hundreds of first time home buyers and our advice and guidance has garnered a 98% retention rate on all first-time clients. Many of these steps below are very similar to our “Home Buying Process” section but they are even more important for first time buyers. Please contact us for more individual specific information: 

Obtain Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.

Create List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.

Get Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller. 

Stay Focused and Organized: Buying your first home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make and the process will be much less stressful if you stay focused and organized. In a convenient location, keep items some of the following items handy to help you jot down notes or ideas:

  • One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted
  • Saved searches and listings online and a physical file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper
  • A digital camera or camcorder to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings
  • Town or city guides to cross-reference properties with community details. Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?

Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later. 

Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:

  • Including inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer
  • Having the property inspected by a professional inspector(s)
  • Requesting a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
  • You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light)

Please contact us for custom tailored advice and recommendations.

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