7 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers
Buying real estate for the first time can feel quite intimidating – you’ve got to deal with agents, sellers, rival buyers, banks and lawyers. And it’s not always clear what role each of them plays in the process.
As an experienced local agent, I have worked with many young and first-time buyers. It’s great to guide them on the journey of property ownership and help set them on the path to building their wealth through real estate.
Any first-home buyer should appreciate that they always have access to many professionals who can help explain the various tasks and processes required to buy a home. It’s not like you’ll walk through the experience blindfolded.
To help you on your way, here’s a quick list of tips for the first-time buyer. You’ll find the act of buying property is not as intimidating as you might have feared.
- Start saving: That means not only reducing your day-to-day spending but also working to reduce regular payments on debts for items such as a car or personal loan. These obligations will reduce the amount of money a lender will allow you to borrow.
- Work out a budget: Investigate how much you might be able to borrow. Factor in the expenses of buying a home, such as legal costs and moving. You should then have an idea of what you can afford. Setting your expectations early on will focus your home-hunting efforts and avoid disappointment.
- Arrange financing: Spend time exploring your options. Some banks demand a 20% deposit; others are more flexible. Perhaps your parents will go guarantor for the loan, or part of it. Consider using a mortgage broker as they will guide you and recommend suitable loan options.
- Pre-approval is the first-step: Getting a letter of pre-approval from a lender is the first-step in the home-buying process so you know what you can afford. A lender won’t give you a pile of cash based on your salary. They’ll grant “pre-approval”, which means you can make a monetary commitment with confidence. However, the lender will finalize its approval once they’ve valued and approved the property you intend to buy.
- Get mentally prepared – With your finances lined up, you need to think about the dynamics of buying a home. If you find your dream place, you better believe others will love it, too. So, be prepared to move quickly to beat the competition.
- Find a great agent – For a first-time buyer, a great agent will make the experience smoother and less stressful. When selecting an agent, ask each one to share with you properties they’ve bought for other clients. This will indicate whether they can find what you’re seeking.
- Go hunting – House hunting is fun but exhausting. In a hot market, it can get stressful because of buyer competition. Don’t be put off, and keep your focus. You may miss out on a few properties, but there are more out there.
Summary of New Real Estate Laws in California for 2022
Below are summaries of new state laws that affect real estate licensees and applicants. Unless otherwise noted, the laws take effect January 1, 2022
· Assembly Bill (AB) 107 requires that the Department of Real Estate collect information about military, veteran, and spouse license applications, including the number of expedited license applications, the number of expedited licenses issued and denied per calendar year, and the average length of time between application and expedited license issuance. DRE will submit an annual report to the Legislature.
· AB 502 allows homeowners associations (HOAs), regardless of size, to elect by acclamation candidates for the board of directors, if the number of candidates is no greater than the number of vacancies. To do so, the HOA will have to meet increased noticing provisions, have had a regular election in the past three years, confirmed receipt of a candidate nomination, and provided a disqualified nominee the opportunity to appeal. The HOA board must also consider the vote by acclamation at a meeting where the agenda includes the name of each candidate to be elected in that manner.
· AB 830 allows real estate licensees who change their legal surname from the name under which the license was originally issued to continue to use their former surname for business purposes. The bill also provides that the former last name does not constitute a fictitious name prohibited under real estate law. The licensee must file both the new and previous name with DRE.
· Beginning July 1, 2022, AB 838 requires that a city or county inspect a property if it receives a complaint about lead hazards or substandard living conditions. Upon inspection, it will have to advise the property owner of violations and required remedies, and then re-inspect the property. Among other provisions, AB 838 provides that an inspection not be conditioned on a tenant being current on rent or other factors. Inspection fees cannot be charged, unless substandard conditions or lead hazards are found.
· AB 948 creates the Fair Appraisal Act. Among its provisions, every sales contract for real property made after July 1, 2022, must include a notice stating that the property appraisal of the property must be unbiased, objective, and not influenced by specific factors, including: race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, military or veteran status, national origin, source of income, ancestry, disability, genetic information, or age. The notice will also include information on actions a buyer or seller can take if they believe an appraisal has been affected.
· AB 1101 modifies current financial practices and insurance requirements for homeowners associations (HOAs) in common interest developments. The bill prevents managing agents from investing HOA funds in stocks or high-risk investments, and removes the ability to co-mingle funds, among other provisions. The bill also requires HOAs and their managing agents to maintain crime insurance, employee dishonesty insurance, and fidelity bond coverage, or their equivalents.
· AB 1466 changes the Restrictive Covenant Modification process. Among these changes are increasing the types of people and entities that can request a modification, expanding current notices to include information on how to request a modification, and requiring that professionals involved in property sales inform buyers and sellers about
an existing restrictive covenant and increasing their duty to assist in filing a modification. In addition, the bill creates a new $2 fee on real estate instruments subject to the SB 2 (Atkins, Chapter 364, Statutes of 2017) recording fee to fund redaction work.
· Beginning January 1, 2023, Senate Bill (SB) 263 modifies the content of two courses required to take either the real estate salesperson or broker licensing exam. The real estate practice course will include a component on implicit bias and the legal aspects of real estate course will include a component on federal and state fair housing.
Also beginning January 1, 2023, the required continuing education course for salespersons and brokers on fair housing will include an interactive participatory component and a new two-hour implicit bias continuing education course will be required.
· SB 800 extends the sunset date for both the Department of Real Estate and the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers to January 1, 2026. The measure also allows the Department of Real Estate to use debarment notices issued by sister agencies as grounds for action, codifies the current policy of expediting license applications for veterans and partners of members of the Armed Forces, and clarifies the definition of a real estate license in good standing.
Source: DRE (Department of Real Estate) Services