Prepare to buy a house


Last updated 9/13/2019 at 11:48pm

ESCONDIDO – So it's time to buy that first home, or a homeowner is ready to move into a new place. But, there's more to a home purchase than picking a favorite listing and just moving in.

Here are the six things that buyers need to do to prepare to buy a home.

First, talk to a lender.

There are all sorts of loan programs and all sorts of different mortgage lenders out there. And homebuyers need to really find out what they can qualify for, what kind of programs are applicable to their situation and how to move forward with the loan process.

Clean up that credit report.

Not everybody's going to have to do this step. But that's why homebuyers should talk to a lender first because sometimes if they have a higher credit score, then they can qualify for more or get better interest rate, which ultimately results in a lower mortgage payment. It's a good idea to take some time – if needed – to clean up that credit report and raise the score. It could be a short period of time, but it will give buyers the possibility of buying more.

Save for a down payment.

Believe it or not, not everyone's going to need to do this step; not everyone is going to need to bring the down payment to the table. Some buyers can actually buy a house with zero money down and get the seller to pay for their closing costs: the cost of escrow, title etc. However, for some people, they may need to save up some money. The good news is that buyers cans buy a home with 3.5% down, 5% or even 0% down.

So when speaking with the lender, figure out: "Do I need to save money?" and "How much?" Buyers can make a savings plan accordingly. If a buyer is having trouble saving money, it is highly recommended they read "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey.

Next, find a neighborhood.

Their budget and the conversation with the lender is going to dictate how much a buyer can spend. If they're in San Diego County, going coastal can often be more expensive. So once a buyer knows how much they qualify for, if they really want to go coastal and they are on a tight budget, their options may be more limited. The buyer may not be able to get a six-bedroom house on the coast, but they may be able to get a bigger home inland, depending upon the neighborhood. So buyers need to research the neighborhoods they can afford and see what's available in that price range.

Decide what they can live without.

People who are out viewing homes, shopping for homes, looking at homes, often need to consider a few things. They might see a spot on the carpet or get a weird smell because there was an animal that lived in the property before. But that's OK – those things can be corrected. Buyers need to assess what they can't live without. Maybe they can't live without space in the kitchen or they like having their own bathroom sink in the master, having a little bit of privacy, having a big closet and so on. Certain things cannot be fixed affordably, and things like a new carpet or a new flooring can be changed more affordably.

Talk with an agent.

This step doesn't have to be last, but it is important. Homebuyers can talk with an agent and get a referral to some good mortgage lenders. But agents can crack the code to properties on the internet. Buyers might go on Zillow or view other online property search engines and start looking for a home. Many may look desireable, but the agent will know that there is a structural problem and that's why they've been on the market so long or that's why the house is priced as it is. The real estate agent will have insider information on which homes are available for sale, which ones are a good deal and which ones the buyer can actually get into and purchase. Speaking with a good agent, such as the agents at Broadpoint Properties, is one of the most vital parts of that process.

A buyer should take the time to educate themselves about what they are getting into before they buy any property. When ready, give us a call.

This article first appeared on Broadpoint Properties' website at

Submitted by broker associate Elisabeth Hartig Lentulo, who can be reached at (760) 532-1057, or CalBRE #01904564


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