Are you ready to buy a house?
What is your motivation?
If you want to buy a house, you have to figure out what it is that is driving you. In general, as much as Californians might like to think so, I don’t believe people should view their primary homes as phenomenal financial investments.
A home offers shelter — as well as a measure of self-esteem and pride of ownership: This house is mine — and this is how I live.
Another question: Does the general tenet, “Location! Location! Location!” hold true for you? Which location? Every person has a different take on what is important to them. Not everyone is able to buy five acres with a big house in the center — and not everybody really wants that!
Some questions to consider when beginning the process of searching for a house to buy:
1. How Much House Can I Afford?
To get the clearest answer to this question, talk to a qualified mortgage broker. He or she will help you get a realistic view of what you can afford, what your monthly payments will look like, and how much of that will be tax deductible. Call me if you would like my recommendation for a local Bay Area mortgage broker.
2. What Is My Dream Neighborhood?
Do you have a clear vision of where you want to live? Are you flexible, depending on certain factors? On this site, I have provided descriptions of and links to information about some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the East Bay. I have lived in many of these neighborhoods over the last few decades and I have helped clients buy houses in all of them. I am happy to help you sort through the options to determine which area is right for you.
3. What Are the Qualities I Want in a Home?
Do you have a list of non-negotiables regarding bedrooms, bathrooms, yards, a view? A certain architectural style? During the home buying process, this list can help you narrow down your search, and it can serve as a starting place. You may find yourself refining your desires or opening up to options you had not previously considered.
As your realtor, it is my job to understand your needs and save you time and energy by showing you only the most ideal properties for you.
4. Does My Desired Neighborhood Offer Homes in My Price Range?
Based on the information you learn from your mortgage broker, and your wish list of qualities you seek in your ideal house, can you in fact afford the location that you have your heart set on? If not, can you change the parameters of your search (home size, neighborhood) to fit your budget?
Back when my kids were school-aged and I was looking to buy a house in Piedmont, I was looking at the same time as two other friends. All three of us had our kids in private school at the time. We all had decided that we wanted to make the trade-off of higher property taxes and better public schools — and Piedmont was one of the best neighborhoods to move into for that. (It still is.)
We all had different price points we could afford. The person who was at the top of the range could afford three-times as much as person at the bottom. And the middle person was smack dab in the middle. Despite our divergent resources and expectations, each one of us lamented at one time or another during our respective searches, “If only I had more money!”
In the end, we all bought houses in Piedmont at our individual price points. And the other two are still living in theirs. (I sold mine after my fourth child graduated from high school.)
Unless a buyer has unlimited funds, there will always be some compromise. We are all constrained by available housing stock or available land for building. Deciding what is important (location, size), having flexibility on certain parameters, and setting these expectations against a reasonable price range; together these tactics create the ideal formula for purchasing a home.