Buyer ABC’s – Advice For First-Time Buyers

  • Loan Pre-Qualification: In today’s challenging lending market, it’s absolutely imperative that you begin working with a lender before you embark on your search for the perfect cabin. An experienced lender will perform a thorough analysis of your financial situation and will then be able to guide you in calculating how much you can borrow, and what purchase price range is best for you.
  • Pre-Approval: Once you’ve provided your lender with key financial information and determined a price range, they will be able to provide you and your agent with a pre-approval letter.  This gives you additional leverage with the seller in negotiating your best purchase price.  With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a written commitment letter from the lender.  Final approval is of course contingent on verification of all your financial information, and a clear title report, among other things.  Delivery of a pre-approval letter along with your offer will give the seller a high degree of confidence that you are a well-qualified buyer, and may well give you a negotiating edge.

How to begin your search: Arnold, Murphys and Calaveras County have a huge array of property choices.  It’s ideal if you can gather as much information as you possibly can about what you’re looking for in a home, and provide it to your agent prior to looking at property.  Providing your agent with information about how many bedrooms/bathrooms you need, total square footage, lot size and orientation, neighborhood location, etc. will help them focus in on the perfect property for your needs. Your agent is also able to set you up a custom web site to automatically deliver appropriate listings to you via email, once you have provided them with your specific search criteria.

  • Organizing your search: Once you’ve selected a real estate professional, set up a system to keep track of the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts, such as:

1.    Comprehensive maps of the areas you are most interested in – your agent should be able to provide a variety of maps to you.

2.    A file containing any of the properties your agent has shown you including MLS information, plot maps and comparable sale information.

3.    Area real estate magazines and flyers picked up at various homes

4.    Any photographs you may have taken while viewing a property, or photos your agent may have sent you.  Links to any virtual tours available.  Photos are especially helpful in sorting through properties when you’ve viewed many options.

  • Visualize how the house might look with your belongings: Is there enough space?  Does it flow well?  Are the rooms laid out appropriately for your family? Is there enough light? Do areas of the home new remodeling or updating?
  • Take a step back: Instead of evaluating a property from an emotional standpoint, use your head. Is this really the right home for you? There are a huge number buyer options in this market, so take your time and make the right decision for you and your family.
  • Work closely with your agent to structure the offer: Take the time to thoroughly discuss with your agent about how you’d like to structure your offer.  This can save you time, headaches and money down the road.  Some important considerations:

1.    Your agent will advise you as to which inspections should be written into the offer, and how the usual title and escrow costs are to be divided. The buyer has a right to any and all inspections they deem necessary during the inspection period (usually 21 days in the Arnold area).

2.    In concert with your agent, decide on the length of escrow, and number of days you will need to fully inspect the property.

3.    Choose a title company.

4.    Determine offering price, down payment and financing details.

5.    Per the contract, you are allowed a final walk-through 5 days prior to closing escrow.  Be sure to take advantage of this – it gives you the opportunity to see that any seller repairs have been property completed, and that personal property you may be purchasing is intact.

All the above may seem rather overwhelming. The real estate professionals at Cedar Creek Realty are here to advise you every step of the way, including creating the purchase contract, ordering and reviewing inspections, making a repair request and approving your closing documents.  Please email or call your agent directly to discuss any of these matters in more detail.