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First Time Buyers? Yes!

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There are few things more satisfying in my job than helping a first time buyer find their home and close a successful escrow. The excitement after all the trepidation, the happiness after all the worry. It’s a wonderful thing to hand them their keys and to let them know I’ll still be available to them for referrals to services, recommendations for local restaurants, and help with local information long after the sale is closed.

First time buyers probably take the most work as there is an education that needs to happen first and that is one of the parts I enjoy most. To teach them the process and guide them through the steps of finding their first home. I get to help them understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and what will work. I know I’ve done my job if I’ve educated them to the point that when they walk across a threshold of a house, they’ll know if they like it and if it’s a good buy before they even see the entire house.

Finding the right house isn’t a process of selection, but one of elimination: what price ranges do we exclude, what neighborhoods do we exclude, what house styles do we exclude, etc. I had someone ask me at a recent open house, “Are there other homes for sale in Long Beach?” I didn’t laugh but did reply with “There are hundreds.” There are, at this moment, 358 single family homes in Long Beach for sale. That’s not including the condos and townhomes. Not a chance I would show my buyers every house. What can they afford? Where do they want to live? Let’s start eliminating.

Some of the more important questions in the elimination, after the basics, include asking what they like to do, how do they use their kitchen, what rooms are important to the family? I ask them to describe their perfect house: what does it feel like, what does the street look like in their perfect neighborhood? I ask them to walk me through the house they’re imagining, walk me outside and describe what you see. It’s not just real estate, it’s about living their life.

One of the first steps in the process is getting the buyers actually financially qualified to buy a home, to get a loan approval. We can’t eliminate houses before we know what they can afford! I work with fantastic lenders that also appreciate that first time buyer, who love to educate them and make sure they make the right financial steps for their future where the home mortgage loan is concerned. The team at CLS Financial, led by Tony and Wendee Close, have a customer service ethic second to none. They take as much time as the buyer needs and they work on all solutions for them. I know when CLS Financial completes the approval process that I have a strong buyer, whose offers will stand out. I refer any of my clients who don’t have their own financing already lined up to CLS Financial. Not only do they do a fantastic job, it’s also part of my mission to support small, local business.

First time buyers are typically looking for their starter homes at a lower price point. Not always, of course, but typically. In Long Beach there are excellent starter neighborhoods like Wrigley, with charming homes built in the 1920’s on wide streets. These homes start in the $300,000’s. Moving into the $400,000’s, there are homes in Artcraft Manor, built in the 1940’s with curving streets and close to Stearns Park. As you look at homes in the $500,00’s more neighborhoods like Rancho, Stratford Square, South of Conant and Lakewood Plaza are available. Heavily tree lined streets can be found in Los Altos as the price point increases.

And we haven’t even started on a fixer-upper versus a turnkey. I’ll save that for another entry.

If you are a first time buyer, or know someone who is, please give me a call (562.673.5335) or send me an email (katielarson@kw.com) and put me to work for you. I’ll be your patient guide, with you every step of the way, and we’ll find that house that’s been waiting for you to call it “home”.

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