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Buying your first home in San Diego is a big deal and the process can seem quite overwhelming. With so many steps to take, it’s hard to tell which order you should complete them in. While working with a real estate agent can help you through the process, it’s always good to educate yourself on the side. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help prepare you for buying your first home, whether you have just started the process or you are months deep, these first-time buyer tips will be helpful for you.

  1. Start Early to Save for a Down Payment

down payment savings

One of the perks of being a first-time buyer is that many lenders now accept only a small 3% down payment. Of course with San Diego’s high cost of living, 3% can still amount to be a large chunk of change. As soon as you decide that buying a home is your goal, it’s important to start saving for a down payment and even closing costs if possible. To figure out how much you need to save, try using a down payment calculator. It’s important to remember that the smaller your down payment is, the more your monthly mortgage payment will be. Once you figure out the down payment amount you need to save, you can then make adjustments to your budget to put money into savings every month.

There are plenty of ways you can save for a down payment. Cut costs in every corner, start a side-gig or get a second job, or just be extremely frugal with your money. Making an easy to follow savings plan will help you stay on track and achieve your goals sooner than later.

  1. Figure Out How Much You Can Afford

Along with calculating your down payment, you should also determine how much you can afford. Houses for sale in South Park can range well into the millions. This is the point where you figure out your budget and how much mortgage you can afford. You can use a home affordability calculator to help you determine this or even set up an appointment with a lending company. Check out our affordability calculator here.

  1. Check Your Credit

It’s unlikely you will buy your home with cash so it’s important to know the health of your credit. Establishing low-interest rates is only going to be possible with a healthy credit score. This may even help you establish better loan terms as well. Do a thorough check of your credit to find where you can improve. While saving for your down payment it’s also important to work on improving and maintaining a good credit score.

  1. Research Assistance Programs

First-time buyers in San Diego have a lot of options thanks to local grants and loan options. Now is the time to see if you qualify for any of them. Take a look at the complete list of homebuyer grants and loans in San Diego to see if you qualify.

  1. Save for Closing Costs

Unfortunately, there are costs associated with closing the sale of your home. Generally, closing costs are between 2% and 5% of your loan amount. On the bright side, however, you can shop around for better prices of certain closing expenses like homeowner’s insurance, title searches, and home inspections. You can also negotiate with your real estate agent or the sellers about not paying a portion of it.

  1. Consider Your New Home Must-Haves

kitchen and dining room

Now is the fun step! This is when you start making a checklist of everything your home must have. This includes the square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, a garage, pool and anything you can imagine wanting. This is your dream home wish list. You should also decide if you want to buy a detached house, condo, or townhouse in San Diego. You will also need to choose which neighborhoods you are interested in living in. Making a list of first choice, second choice, and third choice so you have plenty of options. Once you complete your wish list, this will help your real estate agent find potential listings for you to look at.

  1. Research Mortgages

Although shopping for mortgages isn’t fun, it’s important to shop around for the best interest rates and terms for your 15 to 30-year payment plan. We recommend comparing rates from at least 3 different lenders to find the best deal.

  1. Hire the Right Real Estate Agent in San Diego

You will work very closely with your real estate agent so it’s important you find an agent or team that you work well with. Your agent should be motivated, skilled and knowledgeable about the area of San Diego. The Wolf Real Estate Team has over ten years of experience in the business and we are both San Diego natives. If you’re looking for the right neighborhood to suit you, we can easily help.

  1. Stay Under Your Pre-Approved Limit

When it comes to house hunting, it’s important to stay under your budget. Your pre-approval rate should be the maximum amount you can afford. It’s always better to stay under budget than over budget. Especially if you need money to buy things for your new home.

  1. Go to Open Houses

open houseGo to as many open houses as possible to not only find out if you like a home but to get a feel for the neighborhood and its neighbors. During the open house, pay attention to the small details like if there are any strange smells or items that look like they need repairing. Find out how old all the appliances are when maintenance was last done and anything else you might be wondering. If you need more than one look to decide if you want to buy the home, schedule as many visits as you need.

  1. Make a Strong Offer

Once you find the house you want to call home, put down an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write one. If multiple people make offers, you will need a real estate agent will excellent negotiation skills to help you win over the home.

Need a San Diego Real Estate Agent?

If you are considering buying your first home, give the Wolf Real Estate Team a call today. We can help you through the entire real estate process so you don’t feel overwhelmed. We can also answer any questions you might have about San Diego’s current real estate market or suitable neighborhoods for you. Give us a call at 858-722-6847 or fill out our online contact form.