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Old 08-27-2007, 04:37 PM
 
34 posts, read 178,319 times
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Hello,

We are looking to buy our first home next summer. We need a few more months to save some more cash, and we are renters... our lease expires next July 31. I know we can't time things exactly, but when should we start the homebuying process? We can't really afford to pay our rent and a mortgage for very long, but I'd rather not have to move temporarily, either. I don't think our landlords will be flexible with our lease because we live in a college town and everything is dependent on when the students move back.

I don't think that we will need to "shop around" for lenders because we will be using a CalFHA teacher program with set terms.

If it makes a difference, we are in the Sacramento area-- it is definitely a buyers' market with lots of inventory.

I've been looking at houses on the internet like crazy, and I have my favorites picked out (maybe they'll still be on the market next summer, LOL) but I need to know when we should get serious.

Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Big Island of Hawaii
1,375 posts, read 5,776,298 times
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It's great that you are planning ahead. Confirm things with your lender and be sure you are on the right track, and I would suggest going ahead and interviewing 2 or 3 agents who specialize in your area and can represent you as a buyer's agent.

Make your initial meeting brief--maybe call and ask if you can stop by their office and pick up a card or call a few agents and ask them to mail a card and copy of their agency agreement to you for you to review. Don't sign anything yet and let the agents know you will get back in touch with them. Evaluate their responsiveness and professionalism and how you feel about the interaction.

Once you've chosen someone think you will work well with, let them know that you aren't going to be ready to purchase for several more months, but that you would like to receive regular email updates for the area you are concentrating on. This will keep you on top of market activity and when the time comes you will be educated and ready to go.

Good luck!
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Nine Mile Falls/Spokane, WA
993 posts, read 4,341,384 times
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I would say to start looking in April of next year. That will give you plenty of time to look and plan for moving at the end of July. You can keep an eye on things in the meantime, just to see what is selling and what prices are doing. But unless you could afford to make both payments, you don't want to get your heart set on a house now and then not be able to make a real offer. I can't imagine there would be a seller willing to wait that long for a closing. And like you said, some of the ones you like now might even still be for sale next spring :-)!
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:27 PM
 
Location: California
510 posts, read 3,009,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynmkolohe View Post
It's great that you are planning ahead. Confirm things with your lender and be sure you are on the right track
cynmkolohe offer's great advice...

You can actually start the loan process without having a property to buy... if you're up front with the loan officer, they will likely go through a fairly decent approval process in order to help you answer a few questions. They will be able to tell you what you qualify for today, to help determine how much house you want to buy... can tell you how you qualify compared to other borrowers, which can let you know if you need to get to work on your credit, or if you're golden as you sit.

Of course rates will change by the time you buy, but this will at least give you the information you need in order to prepare.
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:15 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
631 posts, read 2,163,724 times
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I would say like you are doing. Start you research now, then get serious about 90-120 days before you are really ready.

Another thought, if the market is bad where you are looking. You could reasonably make an offer way ahead of time before ready to close with those contingencies in place. Perhaps the home of your choice has been on the market long enough they would take a chance on you and a long closing.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:45 AM
 
Location: LEAVING CD
22,952 posts, read 22,528,268 times
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Not to hijack the thread but along the same lines, I've got a house on the market (90 days now) but we are moving across the country to a market we've only been to a few times as tourists. We know we want to go there, and have narrowed it down to a small area. We have done this before but this time we would hate to have to run there with 30-45 days to find and close on a new house as we have done in the past and it's a dice roll if you made the right choice, and going to just "look" is an expensive undertaking.
Do we go look and if we find something make a contingent offer?

Any suggestions?
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:19 AM
 
Location: California
510 posts, read 3,009,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimj View Post
Not to hijack the thread but along the same lines, I've got a house on the market (90 days now) but we are moving across the country to a market we've only been to a few times as tourists. We know we want to go there, and have narrowed it down to a small area. We have done this before but this time we would hate to have to run there with 30-45 days to find and close on a new house as we have done in the past and it's a dice roll if you made the right choice, and going to just "look" is an expensive undertaking.
Do we go look and if we find something make a contingent offer?

Any suggestions?
I think you should interview some agents over the phone. Look for someone motivated... have them start sending you houses through the e-mail. I know when I bought my house I was able to eliminate 90% of them just through the e-mailed MLS listings... In your case, you could have a list of 2-20 houses you want to view when it comes time. There's smokin deals everywhere these days, so as long as you do some homework up front I'm sure you'll find some. Another thing you can consider would be to stash all of your stuff in a PODS unit, and find a furnished rental with a month to month lease. Of course the rent on a month to month furnished will be spendy, but it will buy you the time to find the exact house you want....
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Old 08-28-2007, 01:22 PM
 
Location: LEAVING CD
22,952 posts, read 22,528,268 times
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Thank you Jeff,
Found an agent, she is sending houses. I guess what I'm trying to figure out is what do I do when I find what we think we want? I'd hate to wait until I'm under contract and lose the house we like and have to decide in 30 days what to buy..... Sometimes this moving 2400 miles can be a real pain
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:03 PM
 
Location: California
510 posts, read 3,009,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimj View Post
Thank you Jeff,
Found an agent, she is sending houses. I guess what I'm trying to figure out is what do I do when I find what we think we want? I'd hate to wait until I'm under contract and lose the house we like and have to decide in 30 days what to buy..... Sometimes this moving 2400 miles can be a real pain
Well it's all relative to how long you have until you move. Buying any house is always somewhat of a guess unless you just totally fall in love with it. I would definitely try and find more than one house... be sure and find out how long the house has been on the market. Also try and find out what the original list price is, assuming your agent can do that. In addition, a loan officer or your agent should be able to pull a property profile and see what balances the seller has on their mortgage. All of this information should help when it comes to figuring out what you can get away with dealing with the seller.

Another thing to note, is that a purchase contract is what you make it. The seller of course has to agree to it... but it could be very open ended and allow you a very simple release. Previously you'd never get away with that, but in this market it's very hard to sell a house without really dropping the price. Many sellers will be open to less strict contracts.

Honestly, I think you need to come up with 10-20 houses you like in a 15 mile radius of your target. Then take a trip and have showings set up with all of them. If you don't own one, buy a digital video recorder and record all of your visits for reference.

In addition, most cities have a local resource for showing houses for sale. Here in the Sacramento, CA area SacBee online has most of the houses listed on MLS posted. This will aid you in looking through inventory, just in case your agent doesn't send you something you would have wanted to look at.
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:59 PM
CBB
 
Location: Munich + FL, 32082
481 posts, read 2,041,741 times
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Before we bought a home, I did three years of research in a 20+ mile radius. I knew every home on the market (when listed at Realtor.com), knew a lot about the neighborhoods and which properties had been on (and often off and on) the market, for how long and what price.

All I can say to anyone interested in buying: Do a proper research for as long as possible. In a buyer's market like today, more and more agents market listings as "New this week" with a new MLS number, but the truth is: many of these listings have been on the market since months or even years. With the knowledge I have today I wouldn't trust anyone.

To keep track, I put all the properties' most interesting data in an Excel sheet which I updated weekly. As buying a home is one of the major decisions in life, I would strongly recommend doing your own research. Ask for advice, but keep in mind that nobody is focused on your interest as much as you are. Not even a buyer's agent.
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