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10 tips for first-time homebuyers
Carlos Jijon, right, and his wife Cinthya pose for a photo with their three children: Emmanuel, 15 months, Natalie, 14, and Danica, 5. The couple recently bought this home in Buena Park, Calif. (Paul Rodriguez/Orange County Register/MCT)
Supply was tight. And investors armed with fistfuls of cash outbid them every time.
The market is tough for first-timers such as the Jijons.
But the Jijons persevered, taking an eight-hour homebuying course, learning about cash assistance programs, and getting loads of practical advice. They beat the odds.
"Banks stretch," said Robert Ortola, an Orange County agent with Keller Williams Newport Estates and a speaker in an eight-hour Homebuyer Education course offered by the CCCS.
2. Take a class, read a book. One of the most common mistakes novices make, according to former loan processor and author Carolyn Warren, is to blab to an agent that this is their first time and that they really need his or her guidance. It's like wearing a sign: "Charge me more."
It's better to do your research first, she said.
3. Shop for a mortgage. Don't use whatever lender your agent recommends without doing some independent shopping.
Another classic mistake: calling 10 lenders and asking for their interest rates. A lender can't be held to those quotes, so "it's just going to lead you to the smoothest-talking liar," Warren said.
4. Check for down-payment assistance. Before you shop, check to see if you qualify for one of the down-payment assistance programs.
Get all the documentation you'll need for the loan process — W2s, tax returns, pay stubs, bank account statements. Find out from your lender exactly what you'll need.
6. Pick an agent who's right for you. Get referrals for agents from friends and family, then talk to each one. Look for someone with whom you can communicate.
7. Find a home you can afford. Real estate columnist Ilyce Glink suggests making a wish list of where you want to live and what you want to have in your home.
You might, however, run into trouble getting a loan if your offer is higher than the lender's appraised value of the home. Lenders won't approve the loan if the appraisal is less than the loan amount.
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