Northern California Home Buyer Guide
Finding a good home can be tricky, but with the right tools and information, it doesn't have to be. Before you start shopping for the perfect home in an area you are considering for your new home, you will need to do a little research. You must assess the area in which you are considering living and learn about any issues that may be present. Understanding any current or potential community issues can help you weigh what is best for your family before choosing a house. This Home Buyer Guide is designed to help you navigate the many steps in finding, buying, and owning your next home.
Step 1: Learn as Much as You Can About a Community
Do your research. Visit the community in which you are interested to get a feel for it. Walk through the neighborhoods, drive through and take notice of what is in the area: stores, parks, recreation centers, etc. Research schools in the area if they are important to you.
Talk to people who live and work in the community. They will be able to tell you what it is like living there now, any issues they have encountered and how they were resolved. Do your research on crime rates, schools, rec centers, or other factors that may make a difference in your decision.
Read local news; attend town meetings, and volunteer in the community. This will help you get to know the area better and make you feel more connected. You will also be able to participate in local issues that have an impact on your home or neighborhood.
Step 2: Understanding Local Issues
Do your research, again! Check out information from community leaders, local officials, and community organizations. Speak to them about the issues you are interested in and how they see these issues affecting your home or neighborhood.
Attend local meetings and learn what is planned for development in the area. This will help you decide if this is where you want to live and can be helpful when assessing a particular property because any new construction will be in the neighborhood surrounding your home.
Look for houses outside of town if you want a quieter life. You may find fewer amenities and services, but this is something to consider when determining your needs.
Step 3: Decide Where You Want to Live
Take time to explore where you work and where your family lives, as well as where you'd like to live. Who knows? You may decide that the perfect house is right in your neighborhood, or it may be miles away from everything you know.
Step 4: Survey Your Options
List the places you have considered and details about each one (location, cost per square foot, porches, etc.). This will make it easier to evaluate your options.
Set a budget based on the research you have done. You can use our mortgage calculator for this or create your spreadsheet with the estimated costs of owning a house. This will help you see if any places fail to meet the criteria that are most important to you and allow you to adjust your budget accordingly.
Step 5: Make a Decision
Work with an agent to preview the places you are considering. This will give you an idea of what is possible for your price range and living needs.
Based on the criteria that you have set, choose several homes in different neighborhoods or consider buying a fixer-upper that requires a lot of work.
If you find the right home, make an offer and negotiate with the seller on any issues or concerns you may have. Your agent can help guide you through this process.
While it might sound final to find and purchase a home, it's of utmost importance to take care of some important details after your purchase. Things like changing the locks, having a home inspection completed, and obtaining homeowners insurance will help protect your new investment while also keeping you safe from unforeseen issues.