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7 Tips and Tricks on How To Buy A Home From Real Estate Insiders, SonjaBush.com, Mammoth Lakes

No matter if you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market, there are a few critical steps you can take to make a smarter purchase. Since buying a home is likely the biggest single investment you will ever make, being prepared will help you make a better purchase. Here are our best tips to buying a home.

Know your buying power

What is your buying power? It is the combination of your credit-worthiness and how much you can realistically pay for a home.

First, you need to understand the hidden costs of buying a home. You will need to save not only for the down payment of your home — which is typically between 10% – 20% of the offer price — but also for any additional transaction fees, such as transfer tax, PMI, title insurance, and legal fees.

Then you need to know what you can realistically afford each month to understand how much house you can buy. Your mortgage rate will depend on your creditworthiness — if you have a high credit score, your lender will likely approve you for a lower mortgage rate, which can save you thousands of dollars per year in interest.

How much of your budget should go to your monthly home costs? According to SmartAssets, you can use the 36% rule as a rough guideline. This means that your monthly obligation shouldn’t be more than 36% of your monthly gross income.

A loan professional can help you figure out how much house you can afford.

Fix your credit with the help of a loan professional

According to CreditKarma, a good credit score is usually 720 or above. You want to clean up your credit as soon as you can, and definitely before you go to a lender for a loan pre-approval.

When you apply for your loan pre-approval, you don’t want to have anything to hide on your application. So don’t lower your credit score by doing anything that will originate more inquiries into your credit. For example, don’t open any new credit cards. Also, don’t omit any debts or loans when you apply. If the loan officer discovers them in the application process, they may deny you a pre-approval.

Get a loan professional to check your credit score for you. A professional can give you a clearer idea if your score is in the ‘good’ range, or if you need to do some credit cleanup before getting a mortgage pre-approval.

Work with a knowledgeable buyer’s agent

Do you understand what kind of market you are buying into? Even within a city’s limits, there can be micro markets that are increasing or decreasing in value.

That’s why it’s important to hire a highly competent real estate agent who knows the specific market. You want to make sure that the professional who you’re working with really understands what the market is like and will help you find the home that you desire.

How can you tell if your agent knows the market? See if they can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis.

A buyer’s market analysis report outlines which neighborhoods are still up and coming — with potential for increased property value — versus those that have peaked with inflated home prices. Having this analysis at your fingertips will help you know if a home’s list price is above comparable properties so you don’t overpay for a home.

Don’t try to time the market…

Even in a hot market, there’s never a perfect time to buy a home. It can take a while to know exactly what you like, and you may have to look at 10 or more homes before you can recognize what suits your lifestyle best. While you’re shopping, take photos of your favorite properties and the details that you liked the best so that you can remember what you liked.

Another good reason to slow down the buying process: you might find a better deal if you do. Investigate expired listings.

Expired listings may have gone off the market because they didn’t get any offers at the listed price, so you may be able to underbid the original listing price. It’s not likely worth your time to look at FSBO (for sale by owner) listings, though. Since they are not represented by a professional, they are often overpriced.

When you start shopping, have a one-hour initial consultation with your realtor. Give them every single detail that you know about your lifestyle, buying power, needs, wants and desires for your home. The more detail you can provide, the easier it will be for them to help you find your future home. Your agent may also know of exclusive listings not available to the general public.

… But make the offer as soon as you find the right home

If you love it, make the offer. Otherwise, that dream home may disappear faster than you think, especially if you’re buying in a hot market.

Your buying agent should contact the listing agent before you submit an offer so that they can decide what’s important to include in the offer. If you’re serious about it, you want to increase the chances that your offer is accepted.

Show that you’re serious about the purchase by creating a buyer’s offer packet. It should include your lender’s pre-approval letter, a screenshot of your down payment money in your bank account, and comps that support the rationalization of the offer you are presenting.

Get a home inspection

Once you’re in the negotiation process, it’s essential that you get a third-party inspector to run a thorough home inspection. The inspector will be looking for major structural issues, including problems with the foundation, plumbing, and electrical systems. Your inspector should be extra picky, pointing out the most minor faults.

Make sure to have the inspection conducted before it is too late to back out of a deal. If there are any major structural issues, you may be able to make the seller repair them as a contingency to solidifying your offer. Minor issues that you can repair on your own may be points for negotiating a lower offer.

Protect your credit before you close

Don’t raise any red flags with your creditworthiness in the weeks before closing. Any one of these moves could mean that you’re denied the loan and the deal falls through — even if you’ve already been pre-approved!

  • Keep your spending to a minimum and don’t make any major purchases before closing — that includes buying furniture, or a car, truck, or van, or any excessive charges on your credit card.
  • Keep your bank accounts stable. Don’t change banks, spend any of the money you have set aside for closing, or make any large deposits to your accounts without checking with your loan officer first.
  • Keep your employment situation stable — do not change jobs, quit your job, or become self-employed. Any sudden change in your income can have that pre-approval offer rescinded.
  • Do not cosign a loan for anyone. It will open an inquiry into your credit and add to your debt, which could raise your mortgage rate and cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Looking for a home in the Mammoth Lakes area? Let me help you find the home of your dreams. I’m well versed in the local Mammoth real estate market, and I can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis to help find the right neighborhood for you. Contact me today at (661) 979-9000 or [email protected].

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Beautiful sunset tonight.

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Sonja was very knowledgeable and competent in selling our house in Mammoth. She is very personable and answered all of our numerous questions with courtesy, humor, and patience. Despite a greatly slowed real estate market, she sold our house in a reasonable time frame. - Stuart F.

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#nofilter Sunday evening neighborhood stroll. ❤️reflections, water, blue skies and fluffy clouds ☁️ #lovewherewelive ...

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If you have a light fixture you want to keep and take with you to your next home, take it down and replace it before you put your house on the market. You can also leave it up and "exclude" it from the sale within your listing, but it can cause issues if a buyer sees it and wants it. Avoid problems by removing it ahead of time.

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Beautiful day at the village. I love the clouds and like to look for shapes or object -- what do you see?

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Amazing two-bedroom condo next door to Canyon Lodge! Ski all season long in this cozy mountain home!

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Hope everyone is having an amazing time at the Mammoth Trail Fest! If you haven't already make sure to check out this awesome event the rest of the weekend!

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Beautifully updated two-bedroom slope side condo just listed for sale. Check it out!

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What does “Months of Supply” tell us about the market?

To break it down simply:

📊Balanced Market = 6 to 7 months of supply
There are a relatively even number of buyers and sellers.

📈Seller’s Market = Fewer than 6 months of supply
There are more buyers than homes for sale, thus sellers hold the upper hand.

📉 Buyer’s Market = More than 7 months of supply
There are more homes for sale than willing and able buyers, thus buyers have more negotiating power.

Have a question about current market trends? Reach out at any time! We’re here to help you decode the lingo and make the most of today’s market 👨‍💻

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SNEAK PEAK! This two-bedroom condo next door to Canyon Lodge will be listed for sale in the next 24 hours!

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I love working with awesome realtors like Heidi Vetter! How thoughtful is this?!” @vetter_heidi ...

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If your agent isn't available, don't call a random agent to show you a house you're interested in seeing if you plan on having your agent write an offer if you like the house. Agents don't get paid for simply showing houses, so it's inconsiderate to ask an agent to show you a house they have no chance of selling to you.

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The Mountain & Adventure Film Festival is entering its 9th year, this 3 day, free festival celebrates the best adventure films and athletes of the year. Films are shared nightly, outdoors, in the Mammoth Mountaineering Supply parking lot. Runs Thursday September 22nd - the 24th!

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