6 Ways to Search for Your First Home Like a Pro

Kelly Crawford


If you’re buying a home for the first time, you probably feel intimidated, especially in a region like the Bay Area and Contra Costa County. You’ve heard all the scary details about rising mortgage rates and a housing market that does not seem to be dropping anytime soon. Before you panic or decide to put off buying, know that the process does not have to be overwhelming. You can sit back, relax, and read about the six ways to search for your first home like a professional.

Think of it as an investment

The first step to searching for your first home is to think of it as an investment because it is. Whether you plan to stay in your first house forever or sell it in just a few years, you are not just buying something. You are investing your money in a house that will pay you back someday. The Bay Area housing market will continue to appreciate.

When you begin to think of the house you hope to buy now as an investment for the future, you can shift your perspective accordingly and begin to set investment goals. How much are you willing to invest? How much do you hope to make? What do you hope to do with the house? All of these are valid questions for an investor.

Set a budget and get pre-qualified

Now that you’re thinking of your first home as an investment set a budget for yourself. One of those questions above pertained to how much you’re willing to invest. Before you start your search, figure out what your budget is. The median home price in Contra Costa County for a single-family home currently hovers just under one million and just above $500,000 for a condominium or townhome. Set your expectations and then get pre-qualified.

It helps to know your bargaining power before you start looking for what you want. Find a trusted lender that will pre-qualify you for your purchase amount. Align that amount with your budget, and you can start your hunt!

Understand the mortgage process

It also helps to know what your mortgage process will look like once you make an offer. The lender that pre-qualified you will be the one funding your mortgage. They will have already asked for your personal information, income information, and credit score. Once you find a house you love, you will make an offer. The lender will then order an appraisal to determine the value of the house.

Finally, when your lender approves the loan amount, you will sign a document committing to the loan that states the interest rate and the monthly payment. When the home closes, you will sign your final mortgage documents at a title company and get your keys!

Location, location, location

You might think you’ll be happy living way out in a small town far away from where you work and where your children go to school, but once you drive that hour-and-a-half drive in Bay Area traffic, you may change your mind. Plus, the traffic will only get heavier as our community grows.

Thus, when choosing a place to live, like a home for sale in Lafayette, take the drive several times during commuter hours, check local schools for your kids, and look into working from home as a possibility, at least a few days a week, if you plan to live far away from where you work. Consider your proximity to nature, parks, trails, and other recreational activities if you are an outdoors person. Also, consider how far you’ll be from conveniences like shopping and eating if those things matter to you. You don’t want to buy your dream home only to end up miserable.

Tour the homes you like

Once you find a home you think you love, walk through it more than once. You’ll be living here, remember. Schedule multiple tours with various listing agents and prepare yourself to stay on the move and on your feet. You’ll want to walk through each house from the front door to the back door, upstairs and downstairs, and all around the outside. Grab a coffee and get ready.

You also want to be sure you check in with your feelings about each home. How does it resonate with you? Do you feel good? Do you like not only the house but also the neighborhood and the commute? Make a list of things that matter to you, and then check it for each house you visit.

Work with a trusted realtor

Finally and perhaps most importantly, work with a trusted realtor. Your real estate agent should have experience not only in real estate but also in your specific area of interest. They should be experts with first-time home buyers in your city and the surrounding areas and the real estate trends taking place in these communities. A great realtor will also have a strong network of contacts and solid resources to make the home-buying process feel smooth and effortless, dare I say, even fun.

You don’t have to search for your first home alone. You shouldn’t. Your realtor will be your best friend in this process, finding you exactly the right potential houses that match your criteria. You are more likely to get what you want and get a better deal for it when you work with a realtor. Make sure you get good references and read through testimonials to be sure the realtor is right for you. Of course, you also want to check your gut and make sure you get a good feeling when you meet each time you work together.

Contact Kelly Crawford's Team today

If you’re ready to search for your first home, Kelly Crawford Team specializes in Orinda, Moraga, and Lafayette real estate. They have a trusted team of experts in these areas with more than 20 years on the job negotiating purchases for satisfied clients. They built their reputation on making buying a home easy and enjoyable. Contact Kelly today.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock


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