Before You Buy Your First Home, Follow These 6 Tips

Kelly Crawford


Moraga is one of the crown jewels in the Bay Area, a small community of about 17,000 residents tucked into the hills above Oakland and Berkeley. Moraga is known for its natural beauty and excellent schools and is home to Saint Mary’s College, a private Catholic school with an enrollment of just less than 4,000.

Know the market

If you have had your heart set on shopping for Moraga homes for sale as a first-time buyer, you need to know that the process will probably be time-consuming and perhaps difficult. That’s because Moraga is currently a seller’s market, meaning more buyers are looking than there are homes available. The median price is around $1.9 million, which is some $700,000 more than the Bay Area median.

Competition for the hottest homes can be fierce and even include bidding wars that can drive up the asking price by tens of thousands of dollars. Many sellers receive multiple offers, and buyers try to improve their chances of having their bid accepted by waiving contingencies. Going into the process as prepared as possible is the key to surviving what can be a fast-moving, nerve-wracking experience.

Work with a pro

Buying a home in such daunting conditions is made easier when you partner with a licensed real estate agent who has extensive experience helping clients find homes in a hot market. Knowing you won’t have to go through the process alone can put your mind at ease and allow you to focus on various tips that will help you achieve your dream of owning a home.

You can start following some of these tips even before hiring an agent, but working with an agent will allow you to tap into their deep knowledge of what it takes to purchase Moraga estates. Thoroughly research agents with a focus on finding one who can expertly handle a transaction in the price ranges in the Moraga market. Once you’ve hired an agent, they’ll prepare you for the process ahead and how to approach what will certainly be the biggest purchase of your life.

Plan your budget

One of the top tips for buying your first home is to set a realistic budget and stick to it. You should already have been saving for this momentous purchase and researching the various financial components of the upcoming transaction. You will need to have savings on hand for not only the down payment, which can be significant for the kind of Moraga homes for sale you’ll be shopping for but for closing costs as well. A big part of this step is to do some initial research into the cost of homes in Moraga. This can be done by perusing real estate websites, where you can filter listings by cost and other factors such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and new listings.

You should also have a cushion that will allow you to make a counteroffer should you find yourself in a bidding war for a home you really love. On top of all that, there will be other costs to budget for, such as the immediate need to purchase homeowners’ insurance — which is becoming more challenging throughout the Golden State due to wildfires and other natural disasters — and paying property taxes that will be due twice a year.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

A major step before buying your first home is to shop around for the best mortgage rates and terms and then get a letter of pre-approval from the lender that offers the best deal. Having a pre-approval letter in hand when you begin viewing homes could potentially put you ahead of other buyers who aren’t as prepared, and it could lead to having your offer placed at the top of the pile.

A letter of pre-approval shows the seller that you are serious about purchasing their home and that your financing is rock solid. In markets as hot as the one for Moraga homes for sale, many sellers won’t even show a home unless prospective buyers produce a pre-approval letter. They don’t want to waste their time showing a home to a buyer who hasn’t lined up solid financing and definitely won’t accept an offer that could later fall apart.

Your lender will want to see your most recent pay stubs, W-2s, a high credit score, and proof that you pay all your bills on time. You can begin strengthening your credit score well before you begin the home-buying process so that there aren’t any hangups at what can be a critical time.

Set up property alerts

The vast majority of homebuyers begin their search online, and motivated buyers looking for Moraga estates can take it a step further by setting up property alerts so that you know immediately when a home fitting your criteria comes on the market. Your tech-savvy agent will help you set up alerts so that you can be among the first to know and then will set up a private viewing so you can check it out in person and perhaps be the first to submit an offer.

Learn insider tactics

Another reason to work with a smart, experienced agent is that you will be able to benefit from their professional relationships with other agents that have been carefully curated over the years. For instance, some luxury homeowners don’t list their properties for sale to protect their privacy or for other reasons. Word of these listings is passed around from agent to agent, and working with a well-connected agent can give you the jump in finding out about a home that could be just right for you.

Partner with the best

These are among the best tips to follow before buying your first home. You will discover many more when you begin working with an agent. When you’re ready to jump into the market, there’s no better group of agents to contact than the top-producing Kelly Crawford Team.

*Header photo courtesy of Kelly Crawford


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