How to Get Started in Buying Your First Home in Sherman Oaks

How to Get Started in Buying Your First Home in Sherman Oaks

The homebuying process can be challenging and unfamiliar when you don’t have any prior experience buying a home. However, you can do a few things ahead of time to prepare for what’s ahead. This article will provide practical advice for first-time home buyers. By the time you’re done reading, you will have a better understanding of what it takes to buy a home and know exactly what you need to do to get started.

1. Know what you want

Before you begin looking at homes, it’s wise to take some time to think about what you want. How much space do you need? What amenities are important to you? Where in town do you want to live? Do you want a recently built home, or would you prefer to buy an older home that you can do some work on? If you haven’t already started looking at home listings online, this will give you a great idea of what’s available and what you might be able to afford based on your desired price range.

2. Understand the process

Buying a home is a significant investment of time and energy. Assuming it takes a few weeks to find a home you like and go under contract, you’re looking at committing at least two months to the process. There will be somewhere between 30 and 45 days between the time you agree to purchase a home and the date when you close on your home. During this time, there will be several meetings and tasks to complete. Your real estate agent will contact you regularly to discuss how you want certain portions of the contract to read. All these events lead to closing, when you’ll officially sign the papers and take ownership of the home.

3. Take care of finances

Talking to a lender is one of the first things you should do when considering buying a home. Unless you plan to purchase a home with cash, you’ll need a lender to help facilitate the transaction. In your first conversation, your lender will ask questions about your debt-to-income ratio and current credit score. They may ask to see proof of income or recent tax returns. They will use this information to determine if you prequalify for a loan. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive a loan for that amount, but it strongly indicates your overall financial condition. Sellers often ask for pre-approval letters before they agree to a deal to sell their home, so you’ll want to have this letter ready before you make an offer on a home.

4. Schedule in-person showings

A home’s online presence might motivate you to schedule an in-person showing, but what happens at the in-person showing will determine whether or not you put in an offer on the home.

When you visit a home for the first time, imagine yourself living in the space. Think about whether or not you could see yourself cooking meals in the kitchen, entertaining guests in the living room, or relaxing in the main bedroom at the end of the day. It’s equally important to look for potential damage in the home. If you see stains near the baseboards or on the ceiling, these could be signs of leaks. Watch out for strange scents or odors that could resemble mold. Finally, pay attention to potential red flags like chipped paint, overgrown weeds, or loose door handles. Such problems might indicate how well the house has (or hasn’t) been cared for in the past.

5. Make a firm offer

Once you find a home you like, you’ll make an offer to the seller to buy their home. Remember that the Sherman Oaks market is relatively competitive now, with many homes selling for a price above listing. Depending on how long the house has been on the market, you may have the opportunity to make an offer slightly below the listing price. If the home has been on the market for a short time, you probably have competition. And if multiple parties put in offers, the seller will have a chance to choose the better offer out of the group. You don’t want to get left behind because you made an initial offer that was too low. Your real estate agent can help you think through creative ways to make an offer more lucrative for the seller.

6. Don’t neglect the inspection

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

After you agree to purchase the home, one of the first things you should do before the option period ends is schedule a home inspection. The inspector will visit the property and thoroughly review the home for any potential structural or mechanical damage. They will also test the air for the presence of any chemicals, giving you some insight into what major home fixtures may need repairs in the next couple of years. Depending on your contract, you may be able to ask the seller to help with any urgent repairs, or you can walk away from the deal entirely if you have significant concerns about the home’s condition.

7. Work with a quality real estate agent

Many people find that the homebuying process is much easier when they have a real estate agent who can answer their questions and represent them. Jonnelle Lewin loves helping first-time homebuyers. She’s a Los Angeles native passionate about using her problem-solving and negotiating skills to benefit each client she works with. Jonnelle is looking forward to walking alongside you every step of the way as you shop for Sherman Oaks homes for sale. Reach out to her directly here.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Witek Lewin Group brings an abundance mindset, drive, determination and a deep commitment to service to every one of his real estate clients, whether a first-time home buyer, a seasoned real estate owner or a celebrity client.

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