So you think it's time to stop renting and start looking for a home to buy?? It's fun to scroll through home listings online and dream about all the things you want in a home BUT in order to be realistic about buying a Sacramento area home, you've got to put first things first:
1.) Find a great Realtor that you trust - typically most people ask their friends and family for a referral or they research online. However you do it, pick someone to sit down with and go over your wants, needs, timeframe, current situation, schedule and goals. A good agent will listen to everything and then make sure they will be able to be a good fit with you. Everyone has different schedules so it's important to make sure that agent will be available to show you homes when you will have time (during the day?? evenings?? weekends??). Also, if you are wanting a home in a certain area and that agent lives (and their office) is way far away, that probably is not the best fit. Once you've found a Realtor that you like, trust and it's a good fit you need to...
2) Talk with the "Bank." Typically the Realtor you are going to have help you find a home will have a lender that they know and trust with their clients. That is usually the best way to go. A Realtor that has been in the business for a long time will know a great lender that can do an excellent job for their clients and they already know how to work well with that lender. So get their contact info and get preapproved up front. There is no point in moving onto the next steps without getting your preapproval done and out of the way. From there you will know your budget/costs and max purchase price amount so that you can begin the official home search.
3) Trust your Realtor more than the internet. It's good to do research online and look into things but you chose your agent for a reason. There is so much real estate miss information out there it is crazy. One of the reasons you picked your Realtor is because you trust them. So i you have a question or concern, bring it up, talk through it and then trust their information.
4) Factor in the Future: It's hard to know what the future holds but it's important to at least factor it in. Are you planning on having kids soon? Will you need to move in a few years due to job or family?? Will you be getting a second car that also needs to fit in the garage?? Can you afford replacing items such as HVAC/roof/windows or do they need to be newer at the time of purchase?? If you take a little bit of time to think 5 or 10 years into the future and make sure those needs will be met then you will end up with a better home for yourself.
5) Know what you want: The current Sacramento area market is a mixture of homes that show well and are priced right - selling quickly. Others that are over priced and not in great shape are sitting. So make sure you know what it is you want and what you are ok with not having. If you know that a 4th bedroom and large backyard is a must but you are ok with a dated kitchen then it will make it easier for you to make a quick decision. The Sacramento real estate market moves fast because of all the internet access of information for buyers to listings. So it's important to really know what you want and then when it comes up, go after it aggressively with confidence.
Bonus Tip: Did you know that A buyer does not pay their agent/Realtor for helping them find the house and represent them?? In Sacramento, it's traditional that the sellers pay the commission. Many first time buyers are usually surprised to find out they don't have to pay me to represent them in the purchase of their house. A very nice perk when you are saving all of your money to scrape together enough for the down-payment and closing costs.