Are you buying a house in the Bay Area?
Let’s pick up where we left off!
Buying a home can be one of the most exciting adventures in your life and it can also be one of the most overwhelming if you try to do it alone. I will show you how to search for homes, how to learn about your local market, and best strategies for house hunting.
As a buyer, your agent is a licensed fiduciary with legal and ethical responsibility to protect you, at no cost to you!
In Part 2 of this series, we will go through the next three tips.
4. How to Search for Homes
Once you are pre-approved and the lender has gone over your what you qualified for, an estimated monthly mortgage payment, and you have selected your agent, then we are ready to start your home search.
You will need to understand what your budget can get you, and what is important to you. You will not find a perfect home. Buying a house in the Bay Area is always a give and take between an unattainable ideal, and what you are willing to compromise on.
What is important to you?
Do you like having a short commute? Is being closer to work important to you so you can spend more time with your family and not be on the road so much?
Is school district important to you? Do you have kids, do you plan on putting your kids in private or public schools?
These are just a few questions to think about. The Bay Area has very heavy traffic, and competition for good schools is fierce, so make sure to make these decisions on what is important to you BEFORE you start searching.
When you’ve made the important choices on what you want in a house, tell your Realtor, who will then use this to narrow down your search radius and only find homes that meet your needs. Your Realtor can then set up an automatic email to notify you when a house on the market fits your qualifications.
If you want to browse for yourself, your agent’s website will have a search feature, or you can use third-party websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin to search for listings.
5. Learn About Your Local Real Estate Market
Thankfully, your Realtor can help you with this! Here are a few questions you’ll want answered:
- Is it a buyer’s market? Is the supply of home inventory more than the demand? or is it a seller’s market where the inventory is low and demand is high?
- How long do homes take to go under contract? Does it take 14 days or does it take a month or two?
- What’s the sale price to list price ratio? Do they sell under asking price or for more?
Every market is different. If you’re buying a house in the Bay Area, it is normal to see homes sell for 5-20% over list price depending on the market, demand and season. It is important that you as a buyer understand the market so you can make the best educated decisions and have realistic expectations.
6. Best Strategies for House Hunting
Once you tell your Realtor your criteria and what you want in a home – number of bedrooms/baths, square footage, neighborhood, etc. – your agent will put you on an MLS search and only homes that fit your criteria will be sent to you.
Throughout the process what you are looking for can change, and that is okay.
Just make sure you inform your agent so they can update your search. When you see a home online and you want more information, make sure to inform your agent so they can get all the details and schedule a viewing. A day’s advance notice is ideal. The seller needs time to get the house ready to show, they sometimes will turn on all the lights, make the house smell good, do light cleaning, open all the curtains, play music, and get out of the house before you show up. They can’t do all of that in 30 mins!
It is highly recommended to give your agent 24 hour advance notice as well, because if your agent is showing you other properties, it will give them time to coordinate the other properties and determine what is the best route to see all the homes. When buying a house in the Bay Area, you don’t want to be driving back and forth all around town because you’ll waste most of your time in traffic. It’s always easier when the homes are in order of location.
Once you find a home that you absolutely love and you want to make an offer, your agent will put together a purchase contract. The seller may accept, counter or reject your offer.
Let’s say your offer didn’t get accepted. Don’t get discouraged, especially in a seller’s market. We take that as a learning experience. Let’s say there were five other offers. If the agent is open to sharing details on the offer they took compared to yours, then that will give you an idea of how to adjust a few things on your next offer to make it stronger. If you have to go through three offers before getting accepted, that is okay.
A lot of times my clients get their first offer accepted!
Sticking with an agent who knows what they are doing dramatically increases the chances of your offer being accepted.
If you’re wondering what the full home buying process looks like, download my easy flow chart that goes through every stage of the process!