12 questions buyers should ask a Realtor
Buying a home can be stressful, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. The homebuying process involves many steps. It’s complex, but your real estate agent or Realtor is a licensed professional who likely has helped lots of other people through the process. That makes them a great resource for information on buying a home. Here are some essential questions you should be asking at each step along the way.
Questions to ask before hiring a Realtor
Finding the right agent is essential to ensure a smooth homebuying process. Before you settle on one, you should interview several candidates to see who fits your needs best. Ask each one these three key questions.
Do you specialize in a specific price point?
Some agents have lots of experience with transactions involving expensive luxury homes, while others might focus on more affordable starter homes. The last thing you want is someone who tries to show you properties way over your budget or too small for your needs. According to Julie Upton, a Realtor with Compass in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s a good idea to “ask the Realtor if they specialize in the area and price point
Tips for First-Time Home Buyers
Learn strategies for saving a down payment, applying for a mortgage, shopping for a house, and more.
Like any big project, a successful homebuying experience is all about getting the details right from start to finish. These tips for first-time home buyers will help you navigate the process, save money and close the deal. We organized them into four categories:
- Preparing to buy tips.
- Mortgage selection tips.
- Home shopping tips.
- Home purchasing tips.
Preparing to buy tips
1. Start saving early
Here are the main costs to consider when saving for a home:
- Down payment: Your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender. Some conventional loans aimed at first-time home buyers with excellent credit require as little as 3% down. But even a small down payment can be challenging to save. For example, a 3% down payment on a $300,000 home is $9,000. Use a down payment calculator to decide on a goal, and then set up automatic transfers from checking to savings to get started.
What to Expect When Buying a House in 2023
Buying a home is a significant financial commitment, regardless of the market conditions. But after a record-setting rise in home prices in 2021 and 2022, and mortgage interest rates rising to the highest mark in two decades, there are a few things for prospective homebuyers to keep in mind for 2023.
While the housing market can vary significantly based on location, it can be helpful to know about general expectations to consider as you prepare to hunt for a home.
Mortgage Rates May Stall or Continue to Rise
As of October 27, 2022, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 7.08%, according to Freddie Mac, the highest it’s been since 2002. Mortgage rates are driven by a number of factors, including inflation.
In 2022, the inflation rate has reached levels the country hasn’t seen since the early 1980s, and it’s uncertain where rates will go in 2023. But other factors, such as the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and housing market conditions, also have an impact on home loan rates.
Your best bet for securing a low interest rate, though, is to shop around for a loan, improve your credit, lower your debt-to-income ratio and make a large down payment. You can also consider an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), but understand the differences between adjustable-rate and fixed-rate loans before you apply.
Ralene Nelson, REALTOR®
JUST SOLD – 245 Harvest Hills Ln. Rio Vista
This home is exquisite, with a fabulous lake view Don’t miss this opportunity to own this home and enjoy this relaxing environment. Two bedroom w/2.5 baths, & bonus room. A chef’s kitchen w/5 burner gas cooktop, convection oven & microwave, entertainment bar w/wine refrigerator, bottle & stemware storage/sink, as well as, quartz counters, glass tile backsplash, stained beech cabinetry, reverse osmosis at kitchen sink, refrigerator water/ice maker. Custom cabinets in laundry/office, sink & stackable washer/dry. The great room has media cabinetry & Bose home theater package & view of the lake. Master bedroom w/bay window has built-in vanity & 2 dressers between master bedroom closets. 5 crown molding in entry, great room, formal dining & master bedroom & 3.5 plantation shutters throughout home. Extended patio w/custom cover & remote controlled shade & built-in gas BBQ. Fenced backyard w/gate to walking path. Tandem garage w/epoxy floor w/overhead & custom garage storage racks/cabinets. READ MORE
689 Waterwood Dr, Rio Vista
2 bed/2 bath/1,837sqft/5,436sqft lot
$585,000 – Breathtaking views as you step into this beautiful home, located on the 11th green & pond. Popular Reflect model with quartz counters, white cabinets, 5 burner gas stove top & refrigerator are included. Tile floors with carpet in bedrooms. A double-sided gas fireplace makes for a cozy den & living room. The primary bath has double sinks with a walk-in shower with w/bench seating. Shutters throughout the home. Walk out either slider onto the covered patio that is the full length of the home. Small piece of turf for your pet, low maintenance landscape (front & back) & fenced. The backyard is lovely & a great place for a BBQ. Washer/dryer are included & there’s a laundry tub in the garage. Prepaid solar lease, transferrable to the buyer for the remaining years of the lease. Just bring your furniture and enjoy all the amenities, such as 2 swimming pools/spas, bocce ball courts, tennis & pickle ball courts, horseshoes, billiards, a library, a computer room, etc. So many activities to enjoy, you can be as busy as you want or idle. There is a club for just about all your hobbies. READ MORE
FOR SALE – 295 Sage Meadows Dr. Rio Vista
FOR SALE – 718 Allender Wy. Rio Vista
3 bd/2 bth/1346sf
FOR SALE – 1536 Michigan St. Fairfield
3 bed/2 bath/1,260sqft/4,792sqft lot
PRICE REDUCED – 623 California St, Rio Vista
2 bed/1 bath/934sqft/4,792sqft lot
Price Reduced to $395,500 – Adorable cottage/bungalow, 2 bedroom, 1 bath and has been updated. Larger backyard with patio & raised garden beds for your vegetables. The kitchen has been remodeled & there is an inside laundry & single car garage. Convenient location, walk to town for breakfast, snack, and/or dinner. READ MORE
Events in Northern California this Weekend
Tree of Lights – Rio Vista Lighting Ceremony
Sun, Dec 4, 1:30 AM
1 Main St, Rio Vista, CA
Tree of Lights offers a chance for anyone in the community to recognize the people who have impacted their lives, through a memorial or honorary light dedication.
Lighting ceremonies for 2022 are held in eight cities across San Joaquin County. Each ceremony reflects the uniqueness of the community and involves local organizations, offering an opportunity for community members to gather and reflect. Memory boards list the names of those recognized by the lights on the tree. Please join us in seeing how your donation lights up the lives of our patients and their families.
This event is free and open to the public. We hope you will join us.
Your donation will light up our Tree of Lights and support Hospice of San Joaquin’s programs for terminally ill patients and their families.
United States Air Force Band of the Golden West Holiday Concert, Vacaville
Sat, Dec 3, 3:00 – 11:59 PM
Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, 1010 Ulatis Dr.
The City of Vacaville presents The Air Force Band of the Golden West Holiday Concert.
Kick off the holiday season with this much anticipated annual event. Celebrate the sounds of the season as VPAT welcomes the Air Force Band of the Golden West Holiday Concert on Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3. Led by Commander and Conductor, Lieutenant Colonel Cristina Moore Urrutia, this acclaimed 50-piece ensemble will deck the hall with familiar and classic melodies guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit.
Ticket distribution begins Saturday, November 19 at 10am.
Tickets must be picked up in person at the VPAT Box Office, Tuesday – Friday, noon – 6pm.
Tickets are free, but required. Limit 4 per family.
Lodi Community Band
Sun, Dec 4, 10 PM
125 S Hutchins St, Lodi, CA
Sunday, Dec 4, 2022 2:00 pm
Hutchins Street Square
- Tokay HS Symphonic Band
- Millswood MS Concert Band
Free to the Public
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve
Sat, Dec 3, 10:30 PM, Sun, Dec 4, 6:30
Don’t miss this opportunity, come join and have fun with us. The event starts at 10:30 PM on December 3, 2022. WELCOME! READ MORE
Super Holiday Boutique – 13th annual FREE in Concord
Sun, Dec 4, 11 AM – 3 PM
Center Concord, 5298 Clayton Rd, Concord, CA
Holiday season’s largest shopping extravaganza in Contra Costa at 13th annual Super Holiday Boutique Dec. 3-4 in Pleasant Hill & Concord.
The holiday season’s largest shopping extravaganza in Central Contra Costa is at the 13th annual Super Holiday Boutique Dec. 3-4 in Pleasant Hill and Concord . Shoppers will find a potpourri of gift items.
Admission and parking are free each day.
The 2 FREE INDOOR holiday events allow shoppers to get those special one-of-a-kind holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for family, friends and colleagues from a variety of arts and crafts vendors, home-based businesses and commercial exhibitors.
Shoppers have two opportunities to attend the free indoor Super Holiday Boutiques:
• Saturday, Dec. 3, the Boutique is f rom 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Pleasant Hill Community Center , 320 Civic Dr. off Taylor Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.
• Sunday, Dec. 4, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. in Centre Concord, 5298 Clayton Rd. in Concord (one block off Ygnacio Valley Rd./Kirker Pass Rd. next to Clayton Valley Bowl). READ MORE