Okay, first-time buyers… it’s time to turn the dream into the dirt you can stand on. Your very own home. I’m sure you have questions. In fact, I’m sure your questions are like most first-time buyers. Which is why I’ve put together this down-and-dirty answer guide for the most common questions home buyers have.

1. What kind of credit score do I need to have?
Generally, 630 or above is what you’ll want to have. The better your score, the better the terms will be on your loan. Some lenders may give you wiggle room on this, but it all depends on the circumstances. A loan professional can help you navigate this as you go.

2. How much of a down payment is required?
There are loans which will let you in for as low as 3% – 5% of the value of the home, but I would consider 5% to be the floor.  The reality is this, however – in our competitive Bay Area market,  sellers are looking for the strongest offer, and typically buyers who have less than 20% down are at the bottom of the pack.  More is better, especially if your credit isn’t as optimal as you’d like it to be. Working with a loan officer will help.

3. What’s the first step to home buying?
Getting pre-approval for a mortgage. Don’t shop for a home until you know what you can afford. There’s no use in falling in love with a $800,000 home in your dream neighborhood if the banks will only write you a loan of $400,000 (unless, of course, you have a 50% downpayment.)  I have a list of local mortgage consultants – contact me for a referral.

4. How much do I have to pay my real estate agent?
As a buyer, you don’t have to pay your real estate agent. The seller is responsible for listing fees and a portion of those fees will be paid to your agent for helping with the transaction.

5. Why should I use a real estate agent?
Like a lawyer, doctor, or other professional hired to represent your interests, the agent will not only advise you about the transaction, but protect and facilitate the process.

6. How long does it take to buy a house?
After you find the home you want to buy, and if you get into contract, it typically takes 30 days to close an escrow.  The home search can take longer, however, so have a clear idea what you’re looking for and able to afford. (Your agent can help you with this. Another reason to have one on your side!)

Naturally, there’s more to buying a home, but this covers the basic introduction to the process.  Buying a home in San Francisco, or anywhere in the Bay Area, can be a competitive and frustrating endeavor.  There’s a lot to absorb and our market moves extremely fast – you don’t get much time to ponder.  The best advice I have is to be very prepared, and to work with an aggressive, connected and successful buyer’s agent.   If you work with me, I will walk you through the whole complex procedure,  guiding you along the way. When you’re ready to make the move, reach out to me: Click Here to contact me.