What to do to get ready?
1. We recommend you find yourself a good, local real estate agent.
If you think all a real estate agent does is write a contract, then you have not met a good agent. A good real estate agent will guide you through the process of buying a home and make it easy for you. A really good agent will save you money.
With the information available on the internet, home buyers are better prepared than ever before. The trend today is for people to begin their search online with sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. They often visit open houses on their own and only call in an agent once they’re ready to write the offer. There are several reasons this can lose you the home and cost you money.
Pricing has trends unique to different areas. Knowing those trends can make the difference between getting and losing that home when you make an offer. Local agents know their market and can tell you what the trends are. Since most properties take 30 or more days to close, prices you see on the internet are pictures of the past and not relevant to today.
In a Seller’s market, knowledge is everything. Most home owners call a real estate agent for advice when they are thinking about putting their home on the market. Experienced real estate agents probably know of 10 or 12 homes that will be hitting the market soon. Getting in to see those homes before they hit the market gives a home buyer an edge. By working with a local, experienced agent, you have the best chance of finding and buying that home before the next person does.
One of the most common mistakes we see is using an agent who is not local. Don’t use an agent based in Mountain View to buy a home in Morgan Hill and don’t use an agent based in Morgan Hill to buy a home in Mountain View. Sure, we are all licensed to sell real estate in every area of California but that doesn’t mean we should. Mountain View has few rural areas and those agents deal mainly with established neighborhood homes. Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy, also known as South County, still has rural charm - which equates to wells, septic systems and propane in certain areas, no high-speed internet or cell service in other areas.
Out of area agents often do not know the right questions to ask to make sure buyers are informed. For example: We were representing the sellers on a beautiful home on 5 acres in South County. They had recently purchased the home using an agent from out of the area. They did not get good advice when they purchased. When we resold the home, we discovered our seller’s rock retaining wall was on the neighbor’s land. Imagine what that cost to correct. The sad thing is, they didn’t build the wall, it was there when they bought the home, but they were stuck paying for a problem that should have been discovered when they purchased the home.
2. Find a good lender
For more information about lenders and a few lender recommendations click here. Your lender will tell you the amount you qualify to spend on a home. You may discover you qualify for payments higher than you are comfortable with. Be sure to look at the monthly payment as well as the total amount you can spend. Generally, lenders will need the following:
• Copy of driver’s license
• Copy of social security card
• Last 2 years of signed federal tax returns (all pages, all schedules)
• Last 2 years of W-2s
• Last 2 months of pay stubs
• Last 2 months of bank statements (all numbered pages).
3. Ask your agent to take you on a tour of the area.
Even if you have lived in a place your whole life it is quite likely your real estate agent knows a few neighborhoods you have not seen. Drive through neighborhoods and identify the ones you would like to pursue.
4. Ask your agent to help you become familiar with the purchase contract.
It is a good idea to be prepared. The purchase contract is straight forward but you should understand what you will be asked to sign before you need to sign it. Ask your agent to give you a sample copy to review.