Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will make. That’s why it’s in your best interest to choose an experienced real estate agent who listens to and understands your needs, and knows well the area where you want to live. When you choose a CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty agent, you’re dealing with a professional who understands your concerns and will provide you with the personalized service that makes all the difference.
With more than 300 agents, speaking multiple languages in convenient local offices, the CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty is your edge to help you navigate the life changes that real estate decisions can bring. What should you expect in your first meeting with a real estate agent? A CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty agent typically will talk to you about the neighborhood where you want to live, home prices, schools, transportation, and the surrounding commercial and residential areas. Our offices span the central coast from Ventura County in the south, through Santa Barbara County, and up through San Luis Obispo County.
Despite slowdowns in some markets, housing remains a good long-term investment. Home ownership offers immediate benefits and long-term value. Homeowners accumulate wealth for the future while enjoying the benefits of a shelter that they can use, improve and enjoy.
Selecting a buyer’s agent to help you find your dream home is an important first step. He or she can represent the buyer’s interest in a real estate transaction. Before making a decision, however, have a REALTOR® explain the pros and cons of using a buyer’s agent versus a sales or dual agent.
When you’re ready to visit houses, ask your CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty professional to help you with:
- Arranging showings
- Tracking the properties you’ve seen.
- Identifying homes that meet your criteria – refer to your “what’s right for you” list
After touring each home, write down what you liked and didn’t like. Develop a rating system that will help narrow the field. For example, pick the house you like best on day one and compare all other houses to it. When you find a better one, use the new favorite as the standard.
“Finding the right real estate agent can make you a savvy consumer and improve your overall experience.”
No two buying experiences are the same, but some people find the process of buying a home a little daunting and sometimes overwhelming. Finding the right real estate agent can make you a savvy consumer and improve your overall experience. A CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty agent can help you capitalize on current market opportunities and assist you in making an informed decision to get you on your path home.
Here’s why a CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty agent is right for you:
- Local knowledge of neighborhoods, schools, market conditions
- Technology gives them an edge – you’ll enjoy the resources available on http://c21home.com
- They are ready and able to make a full-time commitment to your goal
- As Real Estate Professionals they can help identify mortgage specialists who can assist you with your financing.
Visit our Agents Page to browse agents who may be able to help you, or call our broker, Amy Gallagher at 805-489-2100 so that she may suggest some of our agents that specialize in the area of your needs that you may interview.
What’s right for you?
Are you looking for a home? Before deciding which house to buy, think about your lifestyle, your current and anticipated housing needs, and your budget. It’s a good idea to create a prioritized list of features you want in your next home – you’ll soon discover finding the right house involves striking a balance between your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves.”
To start, consider your lifestyle. If you love to cook, you’ll want a well-equipped kitchen. If you’re into gardening, you’ll want a yard. If you’re planning your office at home, you may want a room for a separate library or work space. If you have several cars, you may require a larger garage. Use this list as your search guide.
Next, think about what you might need in the future. As you consider your housing needs, it’s important to consider how long you may live in your home. If you’re newly married, you might not be concerned with a school district right now, but you could be in a few years. If you have aging parents, you may want to look at homes that offer living arrangements for them as well as you.
It’s important to think about your new home’s location just as carefully as you do about a house’s features. Location is a huge part of any move. In addition to considering the distance to work, you need to evaluate the availability of shopping, police and fire protection, medical facilities, school and day-care, traffic and parking, trash and garbage collection, even recreational facilities.
Another important decision is the type of home you want. Do you want a condominium or a co-op? A town house or a detached single-family home? Do you want brick, stone, stucco, wood, vinyl siding, or something else? Do you prefer a new home or an older one?
Single family homes have good appreciation, offer the opportunity for gardens, provide more privacy, and are generally quieter. But, they’re usually more expensive than Condos and Townhomes and require more maintenance. Alternatively, Condos, Townhomes, and Cooperatives are typically less expensive than comparable single-family homes and typically require no yard or exterior maintenance. However, they do offer less privacy, tend to be noisier, and have common walls, floors and/or ceilings, not to mention additional expenses, like association fees.
Be sure to talk to your real estate professional about where you want to live and what’s most important to you. While more buyers now use the Internet to gain access to listings, or available properties for sale, it is still a good idea to use an agent. The agent brings value to the entire home buying process: he or she is available to analyze data, answer questions, share their professional expertise, and handle all the paperwork and legwork that is involved in the real estate transaction. CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty professionals have the expertise to help their clients narrow their choices by sharing market trends and local information.
How Much can you afford?
Now that you know what you’re looking for, the next step is figuring out what type of home you can afford. A review of your income, savings, monthly expenses, and debt will be necessary.
Early on in the process, you’ll want to get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan, which helps determine how much you can afford. CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty can support you in getting pre-qualified. Please call our broker, Amy Gallagher at 805-489-2100 so that she may support this initial step confidentially.
Being pre-qualified enables you to move swiftly when you find the right home, especially when there are other interested buyers. It also indicates to the seller that you are serious and can afford to buy the property. A pre-approval is a simple calculation done by a mortgage lender that tells you the amount you’ll be able to finance through a loan and what your monthly payment will be. When you find a home to buy, a pre-approval also reassures the seller that you have the financial means to purchase the home.
Knowing what you can afford is the first rule of home buying, and that depends on how much income and how much debt you have. It pays to check with several lenders before you start searching for a home.
The price you can afford to pay for a home will depend on several factors, such as:
- gross income
- the funds you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender
- your debt
- your credit history
- the type of mortgage you select
- current interest rates
Another figure lenders use to evaluate how much you can afford is the housing expense-to-income ratio. It is determined by calculating your projected monthly housing expense, which consists of the principal and interest payment, property tax payments and insurance premiums on your new home loan (also known as PITI). Each buyer is unique and a Century 21 Hometown Realty mortgage partner can help you find out just what you can afford. Your income and your debts will typically play the biggest roles in determining your price range.
Free Credit Scores Abound
As a home buyer, a mortgage may play an important role in your purchase. It is a good idea to check your credit history before starting the home buying process. You will want credit hygiene to enhance your opportunity to negotiate the best possible mortgage program. A handful of credit card issuers are betting that you’d like to see your credit score every month. Discover, Barclaycard US and First Bankcard’s have started offering their 35 million cardholders free access to their credit scores.
The score they’re sharing ? called FICO ? is used by credit card issuers to decide whether to give you a charge account and what interest rate to charge you.
Discover is putting your credit score on your monthly statement. Barclaycard and First Bankcard customers will have to visit their credit card company’s website to see their score.
You don’t have to open a new credit card account to see your credit score. Credit.com, CreditSesame.com and CreditKarma.com will give you a credit score (without making you pay for credit monitoring services as some other sites do).
The score you get on those sites can be different from your FICO score and from the credit scores used by mortgage companies, auto dealers and other types of lenders.
All credit scores are calculated using information from your credit report, but each type of credit score is based on a proprietary formula devised by the company that sells the score. While different scores have different number ranges they all predict how likely you are to repay.
So if you have good credit based on one scale, you should have good credit based on another credit score’s scale, even though the two numbers might be different.
Know the neighborhood
When you buy a home, you’re investing in a community, CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty agents are community experts and can help you find the right area to meet your lifestyle needs.
You’ll spend a significant amount of time and money supporting the schools, community organizations and commercial centers in the surrounding areas. Before you make the final decision, take a good look at the location and make sure it fits your needs.
- Evaluate the properties proximity to other important locations in your life. How long will your commute time be? Is there a hospital or doctor’s office nearby? What about schools, childcare, shopping, family and friends?
- Consider all of your transportation options. A new home could lend itself to public transportation options or car-pooling. Depending on the type of community, you may be able to find alternative methods of transportation. Take the time to drive from the new home to your commuting destinations to understand the impact it will have on your lifestyle.
- Visit and understand the school district you’ll be moving in to. Even if you don’t have children in the school system now, you may some day. The district reputation could positively or negatively impact the selling price of your future home as well.
- Make sure you feel comfortable in the area. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of the day and night on multiple days of the week to observe activity and noise levels. Discovering noisy road conditions from the nearby highway can eliminate unneeded stress from a hasty decision.
CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty real estate professionals are experts in the areas they serve. Ask your agent for a list of schools, shopping centers, parks or other important amenities. Buying a new home is about more than the structure and property. It’s about your new lifestyle as well.
Buying a property is a big step involving a substantial long-term financial commitment, so it requires a thorough assessment of what you can afford.
Making a home purchase offer isn’t a simple endeavor. Consult with a CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty agent with the experience and expertise to assist you in making a successful offer.
Closing your purchase
Home inspection is a major step in the buying process. CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty offers helpful information on potential problems that can be discovered during this period.
Homeowners insurance protects you against natural disasters and catastrophic events. Find more related information by contacting your agent, or our broker, Amy Gallagher.
Timeline and Paperwork
In the home buying process, the closing meeting is where ownership of the home is officially transferred to you. Know what to expect when you close on your new home.
CENTURY 21 Hometown Realty sells more than 1000 homes a year and we are among the few real estate brokerages that employs a full time transaction coordinator. This coordinator is expert at the closing process and maintains strong relationships with local resources that make your closing the best experience possible.