As summer rolls around, we always see an uptick in families searching for and moving into new homes – especially if they have school-aged children. This is a popular time to buy, and there are plenty of shoppers on the hunt for their dream California home.
At the same time, the months of April, May, and June see the highest number of homes listed in California. This means that buyers actually have a bit of an upper hand when it comes to negotiating prices and deeming the terms of their purchase.
So, if you’re planning to become a homeowner during the busy spring-to-summer real estate season, you need to know what you’re doing to beat the competition and get the best price.
That’s why NeighborWorks Orange County exists.
Our 501(c)(3) organization connects Orange County and surrounding buyers with a vast network of resources to put their best foot forward when home shopping. We are here to help, receive homebuyer counseling and take an education course before buying your first home.
If you plan to buy a C home anytime from now until mid-summer, we have some critical tips to help you succeed.
(1) Know Your Price and Payment Options
We won’t lie: homeownership comes with a hefty price tag – so it pays to educate yourself on how to secure the best loan with the best interest rate.
Before you even start looking at houses, you will want to get pre-approved for a mortgage so that sellers know you’re serious. Some real estate agents won’t even show you houses without a pre-approval letter.
Furthermore, getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you understand…
- Which houses are within your budget
- The maximum amount of money you can borrow
- The details of your financing
If the money side of buying a home overwhelms you, we highly recommend starting with free pre-purchase counseling sessions, such as the one we offer at NeighborWorks Orange County.
If you come equipped with three current pay stubs, three current bank statements, and your three most current tax returns (federal and state), we will help you work through the process of seeking pre-approval and understanding what kind of home you can afford.
(2) Find a Trustworthy Real Estate Agent
Whenever you’re shopping for property (especially as a first-time home buyer), you’ll want to find an experienced real estate agent. Search for someone who knows the local market and will help you leap through all the hurdles of the summer real estate season.
Even better, seek out a realtor. All realtors are real estate agents, but not all agents are realtors – AKA members of the National Association of Realtors. This association has strict operational standards and educational requirements, which increases the credibility and experience of its realtor members.
Of course, you shouldn’t solely rely on the advice of real estate agents and/or realtors. It’s also a good idea to sign up for some educational programs so that you can advocate for yourself and truly understand what’s happening throughout the process.
(3) Be Prepared to Move Fast
As we mentioned, late spring and early summer are the most popular times to purchase a home in California.
From April to June, more homes are on the market, which tends to put the buyer at an advantage. You may find it easier to negotiate a favorable price and avoid competing with other purchasing bargains.
However, you will still want to know how to move fast. The last thing you want is to lose a house to another buyer who had their ducks in a row before you did.
As you begin looking at houses and submitting offers, make sure you’ve already nailed down…
- Exactly what you want from a house
- Where you should be looking
- How much you can realistically offer
- Who you can rely on for guidance/support
This is a big part of working with a real estate agent you can trust. A great agent will help you act promptly when new listings appear, then ensure you cover every crucial base.
(4) Learn How to Submit Your Downpayment
If you have never bought a house before, the process of saving, wiring and finalizing your downpayment might seem scary. All of these factors become even more intimidating when you consider that the median downpayment in California was over $100,000 in 2022.
It’s important to learn how to properly and safely submit a downpayment – especially in today’s age of modern scammers. According to the FBI, it’s increasingly common for fraudsters to try phishing scams and other methods to snag your hard-earned downpayment.
The best way to get comfortable with your downpayment is to join a Homebuying 101 and Downpayment Assistance Class. At NeighborWorks Orange County, we cover all of the necessary details, from proper wiring procedures to lending regulations.
(5) Build a Budget for the Years to Come
Remember: buying a house isn’t just about knowing what you can afford at the moment. It’s also about preparing and budgeting for the future.
Whether you’ve just bought a house in California or are planning to this summer, you must familiarize yourself with money management skills. Make a plan addressing how you will budget for all of your current and future expenses, including…
- Your mortgage
- Homeowner’s Insurance
- Property taxes
- Heating and cooling
- HOA fees
- Cable, internet, and phone bills
- Cleaning and housekeeping
- General maintenance
If looking over that list starts to make you feel a little panicked, take a deep breath.
At NeighborWorks Orange County, we offer a Money Management Course to help new homeowners understand saving, spending, credit, and everything else they need to know about personal finances.
Ultimately, we want to help you become a successful homeowner, not just a buyer. Let’s form a game plan for the future – together.
Get Help From the Home Loan Experts
NeighborWorks Orange County provides guidance and education to SoCal home buyers at every stage and every age. Whether you’re planning to buy during the best or worst season of the year, we are here to offer all of the resources you need to become a homeowner.
If you’re among the many Californians who feel home ownership is simply out of reach, let’s connect. NeighborWorks Orange County can offer…
- Downpayment assistance resources
- Conventional, FHA, FNMA, Grow/Daisy, and CalHFA loan products
- Refinancing strategies
- Reverse mortgages
Ultimately, we are committed to helping more people in SoCal achieve their dreams of purchasing and owning their own homes. Buying real estate is a big decision, but we will help you navigate the process with expertise and the best resources out there.
Ready to start thinking about shopping in the current summer real estate market? Register for counseling with NeighborWorks Orange County today.