Buying a home can often feel overwhelming, especially in a highly desirable community like the Silicon Valley. For Silicon Valley home buyers, deciding where to start can be stressful, too. Sometimes, setting up a "to do" list helps ease your anxiety level.
Silicon Valley Home Buyers: Where Do You Start?
What's Your Credit Score?
One of the first things Silicon Valley home buyers need to know is their credit score. Lenders use FICO scores to determine your interest rate as well as your creditworthiness. A higher score means better interest rates. However, if a score is too low, you may not be approved for a home loan at all. Many credit card companies began adding credit scores to monthly statements. So, I'd suggest looking there first. Some credit monitoring services allow you to access your credit score for free as well. However, they may not be entirely accurate. I think the best way to get your credit score is by contacting a lender.
Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Lenders help you determine which mortgage loan works best for your situation. They can also pull your credit score for you. As a bonus, they might even be able to tell you what you need to do to help increase your score, if possible. When you're pre-approved, you show sellers that you're serious about buying a home. You are telling sellers you're not just a "looky-loo." Since getting pre-approved can take a while especially if you are self-employed, reach out to trusted lender or mortgage broker as early as possible in your property search.
Once you're pre-approved, now you know your purchasing power and not looking at homes below or over your budget. That helps you with the next step.
Set A Budget You Can Live With
Just because a bank approved you up to a certain amount doesn't mean you need to spend that much. Decide how much you are willing to pay for a mortgage that won't affect your extra-curricular activities. Living in your dream home doesn't mean you can't have a life outside of it. This free mortgage calculator helps you determine what your monthly payment will be by price, down payment, interest rate, and loan type.
Hiring the Right Agent
The next step for home buyers is finding a Buyer's Agent to represent you. Talk to friends, family, and co-workers about who they worked with in the past. Then, interview several people on the list. Ask them how long they've been in the real estate business, what areas they specialize in, where they find homes for their clients? If they say, they use the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) as their resource that's not enough in today's market. Will this agent look for and show you off-market properties, private party sales, and foreclosures?
How they plan on communicating with you (phone, text, email) as well as how often. Don't forget to ask for the names and contact info of past clients they've worked with so you can get first-person testimonials.
Online Searching and Open Houses
Finally, feel free to start looking at Silicon Valley homes for sale online. You don't need to have an official agent yet to begin your online search. Looking at different houses online helps you narrow your focus. Also, feel free to visit as many open houses as you want. Pictures help paint a picture. But nothing is as good as seeing a home in person. However, after a few open houses, they may start to run together. Take pictures of the exterior of the Silicon Valley homes you like with your smartphone. Then, email the photo to yourself along with the address and a quick description of what you did/didn't like about it. Having a plan will help you stay organized.
Interested in buying a Silicon Valley home? Don't know where to start? Getting your finances in order is the first and probably most significant step you need to take right away. The rest will fall into place pretty quickly. If you ever need help, please feel free to contact us. Also, take a look at our Home Buying page to learn more about the home buying process.