Buying your first home is a momentous time in most people’s lives. Here are some tips for first time home buyers to help you sail through the experience.

Get a GOOD Realtor

I tell this to my clients all the time. You don’t want your friend who just started working as a realtor, or your aunt who does this part-time, to represent you in a purchase negotiation! Especially in a market as competitive as the one we have here in the Bay Area. You want an experienced agent who will work with you to create the most irresistible bid. And you’ll need the strongest financing package and the shortest close possible. 

I recommend Kerri Naslund-Monday

Talk to Your Accountant

One of the biggest barriers to first-time home ownership can be amassing a down payment. Did you know that, even if you are under 55, if you have money in an IRA account, you might be able to withdraw that cash — without penalty — for a down payment on your first home purchase? You may still have to pay taxes on that money, but you might be able to avoid the additional early-withdrawal fee.

Check with your personal CPA for details to find out if you qualify.

Get Pre-Approved

The terms pre-approved and pre-qualified are often used interchangeably but there is an important difference. If you are pre-approved, that means that the lender has seen documentation of your income and assets, and has performed a “hard check” to confirm your credit score and viability. 

Prequalifying is simply finding out what type of loan and what payments you might be eligible for, which might be useful if you are just starting to look. If you are only pre-qualified, that means that you have reported your income and asset information, but not provided documentation, nor had your credit checked. Therefore, in a purchase negotiation, pre-approval is a stronger position.