So you are looking to buy a house. One thing to remember is that if you are looking for a place to live, you are buying a home not a bargain. If all you look for is the best deal you won’t be happy in your deal versus your home.
Now there are some things to think about. First off you can always fix the house but you can’t fix the neighborhood so choose wisely. If you have children or are planning on having children, make sure the school district is up to par. You can check Great Schools www.greatschools.org to get information. You can also check the neighborhood crime statistics at www.crimereports.com and www.meganslaw.ca.gov. These sites can help you make sure your neighborhood is right for you.
Now it’s time to think about the house. What are you looking for? If you are single this part is easy. If you are married then it’s a little harder. I suggest that you make a list. Sit down and brainstorm what you want in a house. Things such as how many bedrooms do you need? Bathrooms? Pool? Granite? Bonus rooms? One or two stories? Etc. Next you need to prioritize the list. I suggest you break it up into 4 categories.
- Must haves – These are deal breakers. If it doesn’t have these features, we are not interested.
- Would likes – These are not deal breakers but you would really like them. They help you decide which house is better.
- Ok if it had – These are features that will help in a tie breaker. They are nice but not needed.
- Definitely don’t want – These are also deal breakers. You do not want these features. Some people, for example, do not want a pool.
Now its time to think about your time frame. How much time do you have to buy your home? Typical escrows usually take 45 days or more. They biggest delay is usually with the lender, which is on your side of the deal. If you are in a hurry cash is king. If you, like most of us, don’t have the cash then you know you need to wait the typical timeline. Also if you are in a hurry to move, then do not waste your time with short sales, they take too long. Sure they can be a good deal, but you have to wait, typically 60 days or more. Sometimes its 60 days just to hear from the bank and then the escrow time after. Some short sales require a deposit with no guarantee that the sale will even be approved. Also you may have to start all the inspections before you have bank approval, which means money out of your pocket with not guarantee. So if you’re pressed for time, stick with standard and REO sales.
If you have time to wait and find the perfect home for your family, then go for the short sale. Again you can get a good deal you just have to be patient. More short sales are being approved now then even before. Banks now have more staff to deal with them since they finally figured out that they are better than foreclosures. Also there are government programs that can help speed up the process, such as HAFA short sales. Also many banks have learned to streamline the process and there are even websites to help speed things up.
Once you have done all the above things you are ready to talk to a Realtor. Armed with the information above you can let your Realtor know what you are looking for. It will help them find the right home for you based on your timeline. They are search for features you want and exclude those you don’t want. It is always better to use a Realtor since they have access to the MLS, a property data base that is the most up to date listing service out there. Many websites you access have outdated or missing listing.
Now it’s time to go looking for the right home. Bring your lists to help you decide on the right home. Also before you put in an offer, ask your agent for a cost analysis. Ultimately it is up to you how much to offer, the realtor can help a little but its your money, better to have some info before you spend it. Also do not rely to much on sites like zillow as they are often off on their appraisals since the market changes faster than there program can deal with.
Hopefully this will help you find the right home. If you are looking in the Inland Empire contact me and I will help you find a home.