Steps to the Home Buying Process

Reaching For A Home

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting and important decisions. In addition to being a historically strong investment, owning a house provides comfort and security for you and your loved ones. If you are thinking of purchasing a home this year, there may not be a better time in which to buy. Attractive interest rates and lower prices are helping more first-time home buyers enter the real estate market today than ever before. So if you are thinking of making a move this year, here’s how to get started:

  • Select a professional Realtor®. Choosing a Realtor is one of the most important factors in buying a home. It’s important to select a Realtor who has experience, a strong pulse on the local real estate market and the neighborhoods you are looking in, and who you feel will do the best job in communicating with you. You are going to be working with this person a lot so your comfort with and confidence in the professional are key.
  • Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved with a proven lender will allow you to understand how much home you can afford before you begin your home search. Coldwell Banker has an in-house mortgage banker, who has a reputable track record and can help you determine your purchasing power before you start looking. A qualified loan officer from the company will show you a variety of different types of financing and will determine how much you qualify for with each type, as well as what your monthly payment will be so you can make an educated decision that’s comfortable for you.
  • Determine what you are looking for in a home. Is location most important to you? Do you have to have a swimming pool in your yard? Will you only look at homes that have a formal living room? Understanding your preferences and what you are willing to compromise on will help your Realtor in their search for properties that most closely match your criteria. Remember, unless you are building your dream home from the ground up, there are often compromises involved when deciding whether or not you will be satisfied with a given property.
  • Be proactive. While your Realtor will keep you apprised of any properties that hit the market matching your criteria, it’s important for you to be proactive in your search too. By keeping tabs in the neighborhoods or cities in which you are looking, you will have a better understanding and knowledge of the local market and home prices so that when you are getting ready to make an offer, you can be educated and confident in your decision. Websites such as CaliforniaMoves.com and Realtor.com are both updated frequently and are among my favorites for home buyers.
  • Have an open mind. Remember that the first house you purchase is probably not going to be perfect. If you have been looking for a home for weeks or even months, maybe it’s time to reconsider homes that you’ve already viewed or make a few concessions. Chances are that if there are homes that have been sitting on the market for weeks, the seller may be willing to negotiate more on price and you may be able to purchase your first home for a lower price than originally thought – giving you extra money in the end for home improvement projects.

I hope you found this information useful.  If you are thinking of taking your first steps towards purchasing a home, I’d be pleased to meet with you to give you an update on the local real estate marketplace and your buying opportunities. For more information, contact me today.

 

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To Buy A Home or to Rent: Questions to consider

Sold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New House“To buy or to rent?” That seems to be the million-dollar question these days. Recent graduates, young couples, relocating professionals and even current homeowners have likely considered both scenarios recently. While each option has its benefits, the decision to purchase a home as opposed to renting is complex. According to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors®, nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home today is a good financial decision. But the question that remains is whether or not now is the right time for you to buy.

For most people, deciding to buy a home is the largest financial decision of their lifetime. Before making the jump into homeownership, potential homebuyers should consider the “soft” lifestyle issues as well as the “hard” financial ones. That’s why it’s important to consider four key financial and lifestyle questions when determining if buying a home is the right decision for you.

Do you have a steady income? At or near the top of every potential homebuyer’s mind is whether or not they can afford to buy a home right now. Buying a home remains a sound financial decision for thhttps://realestatebynicole.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpose with documented income and a good credit history. A steady income can provide a strong backbone for the initial down payment and future mortgage payments. Buy-versus-rent calculators available on websites such as ColdwellBanker.com offer a good start, but there are numerous factors beyond straight economics that also need to be considered. Don’t hesitate to speak with a real estate professional even before you are ready to buy a home. Along with a financial planner, a real estate professional can help you answer and uncover questions about the cost of homeownership.

Do you plan to stay in a home for an extended period of time? With proper planning, a home purchase has historically proven to be one of the safest investments one can make. Along those lines, it is imperative to understand that investing in a home is much different than investing in a stock portfolio. Homes typically appreciate in value over time while the owner builds his or her equity through monthly mortgage payments. If you anticipate staying in a home for only one or two years, it doesn’t necessarily mean buying is not for you, but you are less likely to see a significant financial return on your investment.

Do you plan to sell a house in order to buy a house? A local real estate professional can help you understand current local market conditions and will help you make smart decisions when listing a home on the market. If you do not currently own a home that needs to be sold prior to purchasing a new one, now is a particularly smart time to buy. Even with lenders becoming increasingly more thorough in their approval process, mortgage financing is still widely available for those with a steady income and solid credit. High inventories and low interest rates give first-time homebuyers a tremendous amount of opportunity and flexibility in markets across the U.S.

How do your other options compare? For renters, calculating month-to-month housing expenses is as easy as inquiring about the monthly rent and average utilities. The calculation gets a bit more complicated when considering the monthly cost of owning a home. A real estate professional can help you understand a range of financial considerations from annual property taxes to the tax incentives for owning a home.

There is a lot to consider when looking at the pros and cons of buying a home and you’ll likely have a lot of questions run through your mind. The best thing you can do for yourself before making a decision is to do your homework and become better educated on your options. Remember, for every question there is an answer – you just need to find the right one for you.

If you’d like to talk about your personal real estate scenario, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As a real estate professional that specializes in your neighborhood, I can provide you with valuable insight into the benefits of today’s market.

The 25 US High Schools With The Highest Standardized Test Scores

The 25 US High Schools With The Highest Standardized Test Scores

Included on this list are several Bay Area High Schools including Monta Vista, Lynbrook, Leland and Gunn!

How to Pick a Good Home Improvement Contractor: 10 Tips for Consumers

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1)    Check each contractor’s license. Licensing may be at the state, county, or municipal lever. The quickest surest way to find out who is responsible for licensing contractors in your area is to call your local building department, mayor city manager, or county executive office.

2)    Check with the local Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against the contractor.

3)    Solicit proposals from a few contractors before selecting one.

4)    Beware of the lowers bidder. If a bud is more than 20% below the others, ask why. Make sure it’s not because the contractor is desperate for your business and deposit in order to finish another job.

5)    Ask the contractor for references and call them. Ask former customers what type of work was done, whether it was completed in a timely manner and on budget; if they would use that contractor again. Find out if the contractor maintained a clean and safe work area and whether the workman showed up when scheduled.

6)    Confirm that a contractor has at least a minimum insurance – including worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance – required by the state. If they don’t have any insurance, you the customer could be liable for injuries on the job.

7)    Make sure the contractor you choose is well established in your area. Find out how long they have been in the business; who are some of their major suppliers. Beware of those who only have a post office box as a place of business of no ongoing supplier relationships.

8)    Get everything in writing and avoid signing anything – even a bid – until all the terms area agreed upon. Contracts should include everything that has been agreed to. Before you pay, make sure that everything you are paying for was listed in the contract.

9)    Make sure contract proposals specify the type, and wherever possible, brand name, of the materials to be used.  This will help protect you from substitution of inferior quality materials.

10)  Keep a file on the home improvement job, including contracts, change orders, plans and specifications, bills and invoices, cancelled checks, and any other correspondence between you and the contractor or subcontractors.

It is very difficult – if not impossible – to recover money from dishonest contractors. The best way to avoid any problems with contractors is by doing your homework before signing a contract for the job. The extra work and organization upfront should give you greater comfort in the end.  (Article compiled by the Title One Home Improvement Lenders Association (TOHILA) )

If you are looking for a reputable contractor to assist you with a home improvement job, give me a call today at 408-410-2060!

Bay Area Calender of Events for May

May

Looking for something to do this month? Take a look at this calender of events for our local area to help you get out and enjoy the beautiful weather!  May 2013 Events Calendar

As always, feel free to call me for all your real estate related needs! Happy Spring!

Nicole

JUST SOLD! 324 Jackson Street, San Jose

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JUST SOLD! 324 Jackson Street, San Jose, CA 95112. Wonderfully well maintained townhome near Japantown! This beautiful 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath home features hardwood floors, granite counters, maple cabinets and  a loft area that could be used for a office or den. Negotiated for my client for the low price of $450,000!

Give me  a call today to learn more about this wonderful Japantown Community!

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Why You Should Consider Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Star Christmas Lights Hanging from an Eave

 If you are considering a move during this holiday season but you are unsure how the market will react, read on. You may be surprised to find that some of the most serious, ready-to-go buyers are waiting in the wings during the holiday season to take advantage of the market while others are out holiday shopping. At an open house a few weeks ago, I had over 125 people through both Saturday and Sunday, proof that plenty of buyers are waiting for your home to come on the market!

WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER SELLING YOUR HOME DURING THE HOLIDAY

  • Holiday buyers are particularly serious, committed and focused.
  • The corporate executive transferees have more free time to shop for a home now than at any other time of the year.
  • Over the holidays there are fewer homes available, therefore supply and demand work in your favor.
  • Homes are seasonally radiant during the decorative holiday period.
  • The holiday season is a time of heightened consumer spending.
  • Some buyers purchase homes as gifts.
  • Interest rates are still attractive.

TO PRESERVE PRIVACY OVER THE HOLIDAYS, AT YOUR REQUEST WE CAN TAKE AN EXCLUSIVE MARKETING APPROACH

  • All showings are by appointment and only available to qualified buyers.
  • Take a low key approach to advertising your home, reinforcing its exclusivity.
  • Don’t include property address in advertising.
  • Consider not placing your home on the MLS during the holiday period.
  • No lock box.
  • No open houses for either public or Realtors® (unless homeowners request otherwise)
  • No for sale sign.

If you are considering selling, give me a call today at (408) 410-2060 for a FREE home estimate. Also, remember, if you buy or sell a home through me, or refer me to someone who does, YOU get a FREE 16GB iPad4! What a deal!