WHERE DO I START? The Home Buying Process

Real Estate

WHERE DO I START? The Home Buying Process

One of the joys of real estate is being able to assist first time homebuyers with the purchase of their first home! It is truly a rewording experience when you can hand over the keys and see the excitement radiating from your clients.  They have saved and worked so hard to make the dream of home ownership a reality!

When you are first starting to think about purchasing a home it can seem daunting, where do you begin?! One of our favorite clients, The Poff Family, recently asked us to create a guide to assist someone looking to begin their home search.  Even if you are not a first time homebuyer, you may still not know where to begin! We hope this guide helps point you in the right direction.




So, 2020 is here and you put “buy my first home” on your Insta Story for one of your goals this year. Congratulations! Now what!!??!! Where do you go from here?! Download a real estate app? Start going to Open Houses on Sundays? How do I get a loan? How do I….


How can something be so overwhelming, stressful and super exciting at the same time? Buying your first property is one of the most important decisions you will make, on your own or with a partner. As local Realtors, we have been honored and humbled to walk many a first time buyer through this process. And we have to say that it has become *quite possibly* the best part of our job. Handing over keys to first time homeowners, is everything you think it would be. And our goal is to share some information, questions and a little advice that we have learned over the years of working with this incredible group of buyers.


1 – Talk to a mortgage broker. No, like NOW. Stop what you are doing. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. As you prepare for this, a mortgage professional will help guide you with the many (many) different loan options. Start with how much you want to afford each month. Stop and read that again. What is your monthly budget? How much of a mortgage are you willing to add to  that budget to still enjoy the life you have and/or want to have? Start there and then once you have discussions with a mortgage professional, let them inform you on the different loan options that can work with your goals. In the Bay Area, you can not write an offer on a house until you have a letter from a lender…so this really is the first step.


2 – Think of this house as a stepping stone. You are purchasing a home to live in, yes. But this first purchase is the one that will help you make your next purchase. So, be intentional about what you buy. You have to think as a buyer AND a seller. What will attract buyers to this house when you get to sell it in 8-12 years? Consider the upside potential of your purchase, is there room for improvement that will increase your equity in the home? Are you willing to commit to making those improvements over time? Yes, this is your home…but it is a long term investment as well. 


3 – Be willing to stretch…a little. This is a tough one because you have to be comfortable with your budget. You have to factor the monthly mortgage, homeowners insurance, property taxes and cost of caring for a home IN ADDITION to just living your life. But, I have had countless experienced homebuyers tell me that they are so glad that they stretched a little on their first purchase, as it pays off in the long run. And referring back to #1…be in constant communication about the impact on monthly payment of an increase in purchase price. You would be surprised how far $200/month can go on a mortgage versus another line item in your monthly budget. 


4 – Research, research, research!! This is a pretty big topic as you are not only buying a place to sleep at night. You are buying where you take your morning walk, where you invite your friends over for an ugly holiday sweater party, where you grill in the backyard, where you might have a home office or start a family. We feel so fortunate to be able to work where we live. We are so proud of the communities that surround our homes, it is part of why we chose to live here, “home” is so much more than our address. If there is something that is really important to how you live your life, take the time to do the research to make sure that home or neighborhood satisfies that for you. If you take Bart to work and want to walk to the station…practice that walking/bus route to make sure it works for you. If you like to do sunset yoga, ask your agent to see the house at sunset hour to make sure it works for you. This is YOUR HOME…never be afraid to do your research and make sure that the community and surroundings fit your life.


5 – Find the right agent for you. This one goes without saying. Obviously, we are biased on the role an agent plays in this transaction. But we think it is critical on every level. There are many agents out there…truly someone for everyone. So, find the one that fits you. Meet agents who have passion for helping people and solving problems. The most happy and successful agents are the ones who truly care and build relationships with their clients. They are leading you through this process that is crazy at times, but the right agent will shoulder the stress and always have your best interest at heart. You should never question that, ever. So, talk to friends you trust, get some names and meet people. Find the one that works for you!


In all honesty, there are at least 10 more things we could address in a conversation with first time home buyers who are just starting a search…but we think we have exceeded the word count for this blog. With regards to all of the above items, it comes down to two things (from our perspective)…building a great team. Who is your team? Well, it’s us. Your Realtor and your mortgage professional. We are the co-pilots on this journey, you are taking. It is our job to protect you and inform you at every step of the process, from finding the home, developing a strategic offer, negotiating where needed to eventually signing title papers!  And I work hand-in-hand with your mortgage professional to ensure that they have what they need to make sure that loan funds when it is supposed to. Together we will lead you through all of it…and when you receive the keys we will be there. 


If you or someone you know is looking to start talking about purchasing a home, feel free to contact us directly at [email protected]. We are always up for a cup of coffee or drink to answer any questions. 

For more information on The Poff Family, please visit www.partofthepoffs.com.  

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