Purchasing a house in Sonoma County is easier now more than ever. However, with the average-priced house penciling in at $700,000 purchasing a house is going to require careful planning to put your best foot forward. Here are some things to consider if you want to purchase a house…
Get pre-approved first. Getting pre-approved by a local lender who can close your loan quickly and proactively is huge. The last thing in the world you want is to find a house, then try to get qualified only to find out there’s something in your financial past that prevents you from being able to successfully perform. It’s a big waste of time for the seller, your agent and ultimately your family. Get pre-approved first
Not making the time to make housing a priority for you and your family. The classic adage “I cannot meet in person to get pre-approved because of my work schedule”. Here’s the reality of it, you’re most likely not going to have a pleasant experience or get the house that you want or even get a house at all by trying to do everything on nights and weekends. You can’t purchase a house and make one of the largest financial transactions of your life doing it on your schedule alone - remember it’s not just you that’s a party to the house process it’s you and your family, the lender, the appraiser, your real estate agent, home inspector, insurance agent, escrow officer, listing agent and seller.
Not getting your gift money lined up first. If you’re lucky enough to receive gift money to purchase a house get it all done and handled up front. This is critical because you don’t want to have an IOU from a family member willing to donate money to you, get into contract, then find out that family member either changes their mind or the amount they are donating. Such changes could result in you not getting the mortgage or the home.
Not letting the lender pull a copy of your credit for fear that your credit score is going to drop. Here’s the deal, if you have $700,000 cash to purchase a house then move on, If not, know the mortgage lender must pull a copy of your credit report. Credit reports are not transferable among lenders and the credit scores that they receive carry all the weight.
Not being realistic about what it is that you want will subsequently fall prey to paralysis of analysis. The 5-bedroom, 4-bath house on an acre lot newly remodeled for $600,000 in Sonoma County is not likely to happen. Recognize that your real estate agent has the finger on the pulse of the properties that are available on the market and they can advise you on what’s available in relationship to what your financial profile supports. Be realistic. If you’re a first-time home buyer, you don’t necessarily have to have “the” house. If these are drivers of your desire to buy a home, then you will want to narrow it down. This includes, but it not limited to:
A primary home to live in
A home to enjoy and perhaps raise a family in
A home that may accumulate equity over time
A tax benefit to write off the interest and taxes
Convincing yourself that now is just not the right time to buy. Here is the reality, there is never a right time to buy. It’s not today, tomorrow or any time. Trying to time the market is like trying to find a roach in the kitchen in the dark when the bigger problem is not the roach in the kitchen, but roaches in the walls. In other words, the time to buy a house is when you’re feeling optimistic about your income, job stability and your ability to still save while taking on a mortgage payment (even if it’s a little tight on the budget) a bit higher than what you otherwise want. If those things are in place, then purchase a house. Certainly, it goes without saying you need to have at least a good credit score and manageable monthly debts.
Many times, people who want to buy cannot due to credit, debt, income or cash. There is a solution, work with a lender who is willing (most are not) to work with you over time. Not everybody who wants to buy a house should buy a house or can buy a house. However with the right motivation, quality expertise and patience, purchasing a house might just be something you could do after all when the timing is right for you.
Scott Sheldon is a local mortgage lender, with a decade of experience helping consumers purchase and refinance primary homes second homes and investment properties. Learn more at www.sonomacountymortgages.com.