Have San Diego’s perfect weather, delicious Mexican food, beautiful beaches, and amazing sunsets convinced you to stay? Are you dreaming about buying a home in sunny San Diego? These eight steps will help make that dream a reality!
Step 1: Become Familiar With The Real Estate Market
According to an April 2016 article from Time Magazine, San Diego is predicted to be one of the hottest real estate markets over the next five years. Home prices are expected to increase modestly over the next few years. Low inventory has us in a competitive seller’s market, meaning that buyer’s have to compete for the few available homes, especially in the entry-level price ranges.
Step 2: Build Strong Credit
Simply put, the better your credit, the better rate you’ll get on your mortgage. A great credit score is evidence that you are a “good investment” for the bank.
If your credit is less than stellar, you will want to work to improve it.
- Pay your bills on time.
- Don’t take out more credit cards than you need.
- Don’t max out your available credit on the cards you do have each month.
- Pay down credit card debt.
- Check your credit report for inaccuracies and get them corrected.
- Raise your credit line when able. This increases your debt-to-credit-limit ratio.
Step 3: Save for a Down Payment
Very few people have enough cash to buy their first home without a mortgage. Most need financing to afford today’s home prices. But there are many different mortgage programs out there. As a first-time home buyer you can buy a home with less than the standard 20% down, sometimes as low as 3.5-4% down, but you may have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to the lender on top of your mortgage. For some people, that will require a budget adjustment or to wait until they can save up for a larger down payment. There are many different affordability calculators online that can help to determine an individual budget more closely. You can take a look at ours here, which will give you a rough idea of what you can afford.
Step 4. Choose a Real Estate Agent
Who you work with matters. Not only is it important to select an agent who is knowledgeable in the area(s) you wish to buy in, but you also want to choose someone whom you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. In most cases, your home purchase will be your largest purchase to date. When selecting a real estate agent, you’re also picking someone who will be the custodian of that transaction. You will want to interview a few agents to determine who is your best fit. Ask the agents you’re interviewing if they have reviews from buyers like yourself and/or if they can provide you with a list of their past clients. Nobody knows a real estate agent better than the people who have hired them!
At Coastal Premier Properties, we will hand-pick an agent that will be a great match for you and your real estate needs.
Step 5: Research & Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
Your real estate agent can point you in the direction of some great lenders who can look at your finances and determine how much home you can afford. Not every mortgage program is the same, so it’s important to talk to a few different people and look at different programs and loan types before deciding what will be best for you.
Your lender will provide you with a Pre-Approval Letter, which is key to getting a home in a challenging market place. The letter is a note that states how much home you can afford. When sellers are choosing between competing buyers, having that Pre-Approval Letter is an extra assurance that you are a legitimate buyer and if they go into escrow with you, that you have the funds to purchase their home.
Step 6: Narrow Down Your Search
Now that you know how much horse your can afford, where do you want to buy? Explore different neighborhoods and find the one that best fits your needs. Explore shops and dining, research commute and traffic information, look up pictures of houses in the area, and see which one feels like your perfect fit! What kind of house do you want? Create a wish list of your wants and needs for your future home. List the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms you want, a preferred house style, ideal yard size, or any specific property features you are looking for.
Step 7: Begin Viewing Properties
This is the fun part! Start viewing properties that fit your criteria. See what’s available! Your ideal choice may change during this process, as you explore the different options and see the market up close. Take your time and look at as many options as you want! Buying a house is a big decision, so you want to be well informed on what is available.
Step 8: Put Together an Offer and Buy That House!
Once you have decided on your dream home, you will need to put together an offer. Your agent will help you come up with the best offer strategy. Try to look at recently sold houses in the same neighborhood that are comparable to the one you’re looking to purchase for an idea of the price you will need to pay. Once an offer is accepted, the contract will be drawn up, and after the closing date comes, that dream house will be yours!