Jeff’s Carlsbad Blog for First Time Home Buyers

Are You Really Ready to Buy a Home?

I decided to re-post this article that I wrote quite some time ago. Given the difficulties in this market, with short sales and foreclosures (REOs or bank-owned properties), knowing if you are really ready to buy is critical. Not everyone is prepared for what they have to deal with when buying a home.

And certainly being financially able is essential or you are wasting your time.

One question to ask yourself is if you are REALLY ready to buy or are you just looking right now? While you may be thinking you are ready, your behavior may suggest the time is not quite right.

The questions below will help you determine if you are truly prepared to buy…emotionally, psychologically and financially.

  • Will you be paying cash or have you arranged for financing?
  • Do you have a house or condo to sell?
  • Do you have a lease you can break or are you tick for an extended period of time?
  • If you went out today and found your dream home, what would you do?
  • Do you have a good idea of what you are looking for and what you are willing to trade off?
  • Why do you want to buy a new house? Do you have some good reasons (space, financial psychological) for wanting to buy?
  • You know yourself better than anyone. Can you HONESTLY say (and look yourself in the face in a mirror!) that you are emotionally, psychologically and financially ready to go? This is a tough one for the first time buyer, and an “unsure answer” or “I’m scared” is perfectly alright since it’s a bit step and being nervous about it is to be expected.
  • How well informed are you about the market in terms of inventory, pricing, marketing time, interest rates, etc.? It’s hard to get started on the process if you know nothing about it or the local market.

You can download some helpful forms and checklists about short sales and REOs on the home page of my website.

Visit my Savvy Buyers Page to download the “Buyer’s Lifestyle Questionnaireand  my What’s Important to You in Your Home Search Questionnaire.

Search for Homes Community Information Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”


Are YOU Interested in Buying an REO?

I just wrote an article that may interest you IF you are interested in buying an REO…or perhaps have little choice because of price range.

There are some important questions that I like to ask, so these might be useful for you to consider so you can decide IF buying an REO is right for you.

If nothing else, it will help you be prepared for the issues you need to confront during the search.


Search for Homes Community Information First Time Home Buyers Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Do You Give Up Easily?

Posted in Psychological Stuff,REOs,Short Sales by Jeff Dowler on January 13, 2010
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Are you the kind of person who gets frustrated quickly?

Do you give up easily?

I hope not, if you are a buyer, especially a first time buyer, in this market.

In our area there is a ton of competition, with multiple bids on most homes in the lower price ranges (e.g., under $500K), and in particular for short sales and REOs. What this can mean is that you may not get the house you want because you get outbid by someone else. There are more and more cash buyers out there, especially investors, and banks often prefer cash deals over financed ones.

  • Because of the nature of this market, many of you may have to make more than one offer in order to finally get a home, and this can be frustrating. Plus it takes time.
  • The other issue is that in many areas the inventory is not increasing, so there are not a lot of homes to choose from that fit the budget, and the ones on the market often need a lot of work or for other reasons are not very desirable.

However, with the low rates we currently have, and the opportunity to take advantage of the First Time Buyer Credit, buying a home now can be a terrific opportunity for many of you. But try not to let yourself get too frustrated, and BE PERSISTENT. A savvy local REALTOR can be your best defense.

Search for Homes Community Information First Time Home Buyers Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Buying a Home is a Part-Time Job, or More

Posted in Psychological Stuff,The purchase process by Jeff Dowler on April 28, 2008
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For those of you who are embarking on a home buying purchase for the first time, you should expect that it will become like a part-time job for you. That’s in addition to what you are already involved in – your work, family life, and whatever else you have going on.

Even if your time frame is somewhere in the future, there is a lot you will need to do, and learn, in order to be successful. Many new buyers are surprised at how much time it takes to house hunt, let alone learn all about the process, become knowledgeable about financing, make decisions about the kind of house you want and where you want to live, and much more.

Think I’m exaggerating? Read more about how buying a home IS a part-time job.


If I can provide more information about Carlsbad and surrounding areas, or the housing market in general, or otherwise assist you in your homes search, please contact me by phone or text at (760) 840-1360
or email me at

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First Time Home Buyers Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

All content copyright © 2007 Jeff Dowler Carlsbad Homes and Real Estate Tidbits

When You Snooze You Lose

Posted in Psychological Stuff,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on February 21, 2008

You may have heard the expression “when you snooze, you lose.” Sometimes waiting to make a decision, or to do something means you lose out on what you want or need.

The same is true in real estate…

even in this market of loaded inventories and sluggish sales.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because the market has shifted and is slower (the media tells us that all the time) that the home you find and love will sit there and wait for you to make a final decision. Even in the case of REOs, foreclosures and short sales.

Our cat sleepingWaiting to make a decision because you hope the price will change, or a better deal will come along, or for whatever reason COULD result in you losing the house you really liked. I have seen this happen repeatedly, even in this market. Buyers sometimes think that because there is so much to buy, or things are slower, that they can take their time.

Sometimes they can wait and things work out.
But sometimes, “when you snooze you lose.”

Can You Compromise?

Posted in Psychological Stuff,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on November 26, 2007
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Buying a new home is about compromise.

Often it’s because the perfect home you desire does not exist, or is not something you can afford. There are trade-offs with every home, and deciding what you are willing to give up vs. what you are not is usually a tough choice. Some buyers have a very tough time making this decision. And as a first timer you may find this especially hard to do.

 Compromise also is necessary when there is more than one person involved in the decision making, and the parties do not agree on what they are looking for in a new home, or the merits of particular houses. Certain characteristics of homes may be more important to some folks than others. And occasionally very small issues become huge ones!

So be prepared for needing to compromise. How do you resolve such issues in your daily life? Are you willing to let go of certain desires in order to achieve the overall goal of home-ownership?

What is MOST Important When Selecting Your REALTOR?

Posted in Choosing a Realtor,Psychological Stuff by Jeff Dowler on September 20, 2007

As a first time buyer you have a critical job – making a decision as to which REALTOR you are going to work with to help you buy your first home. Although deciding WHICH home to buy is probably the other critical decision that you will need to make.

Selecting your agent is a huge decision and you shouldn’t take it lightly. But what is MOST important when selecting your REALTOR?

A big part of the answer to that question depends on you.  So I suggest you think about what is MOST important to you, as you talk with possible team members.

  • Is it the person who has the most experience?
  • The person who has sold the most homes?
  • The agent who has every credential in the book?
  • That person who is a techie and has all the bells and whistles?
  • Is it the agent that makes you feel comfortable? The one who genuinely seems to want to help YOU make a crucial decision, and NOT just earn a paycheck?
  • The individual who seems to be the most competent and knowledgeable?
  • The person who knows that area(s) you are interested in?

My point here is that all of these are issues for you to consider, among others I’m sure you will think of. Some things may be more important to you than others.

I believe that the relationship between agents and their clients is really the key to success. There has to be a sense of trust, and honesty; integrity and loyalty; and a real concern for you, the buyer. YOU are the one who is most important in the relationship.

There are lots of folks out there who have the knowledge, know the technology, and have helped people buy and sell homes. But you have to decide based on what is most important, and comfortable, for you. Don’t make a hasty decision on this…trust me. But I think you will also know when you have found the right person to help you in the most important, and expensive, purchase of your life.

Good luck!

What Do You Say?

Posted in House Hunting,Psychological Stuff,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on July 4, 2007

You probably are getting lots of questions from friends and family who know you are house hunting.

So what do you say when they ask you “how is your house hunting going?”

Are you able to tell them the truth? Do you really know how it’s going? And how do you feel about how it’s going?

Has it been a positive experience for you thus far?Are you learning alot? Have you made headway regarding what you want and would like to buy? Or is that still not clear to you?

Are you feeling that it is not going well but don’t want to admit it? And if it isn’t why do you feel that way? Are you frustrated? Worried that you will never find what you want to buy? Having trouble deciding, or afraid to make that big decision?

This is all very normal, and everyone goes through these thoughts and questions at different times when buying a home. And with different answers.

I think being asked the question “how is your house hunting going” is a great one, since it forces you to think about the process, where you are with it, and to make changes as needed so that you can move forward in the right direction.  And to get help from your agent (depending on the issues) to address problem areas (like not finding the type of home you like, needing to explore other communities, and so on).

Have a great holiday!!

Looking for a Defect-Free Home?

Posted in House Hunting,Inspections,Psychological Stuff by Jeff Dowler on June 6, 2007

As a new buyer you are undoubtedly learning lots of things about the process as you conduct your home search, visit homes for sale and open houses, ask questions, and so on.

I hope that you are not one of the buyers that is looking for a defect-free home. They are out there, trust me. But if that is your attitude, I suspect you will be sorely disappointed. They just don’t exist. You shouldn’t expect that you will find such a home, nor be disappointed that the home you are trying to buy ends up having problems during your home inspection. This is true even if you buy brand new construction. And having such an attitude will set up some negative dynamics in your negotiations with the seller, especially when it comes time to discuss possible repairs.

Being realistic in your expectations is a big part of buying your first home. And being prepared to buy a home youlove even though it has some issues is pretty normal. And you might actually enjoy the opportunity to fix up your new place.

Obiouvsly you don’t want something that has more problems than you can take on, or can afford to fix (unless you want a “handyman” special), but be realistic in your expectations and in your attitude about what you want. If you go about looking for a defect-free home, you will likely never buy. Hmmm, is that perhaps your excuse to not make a decision?

Are You Hunting for a Deal?

Posted in House Hunting,Psychological Stuff,Short Sales,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on May 28, 2007

auction-table.jpgAre you one of the many buyers hunting for a deal in this market? I don’t mean that you are looking for a good value…a home you would like to live in at a price you think is fair and reasonable. I am referring to the kind of buyer who wants “the deal of the century.”

It is common in a buyer’s market to find buyers who believe they can make a low-ball offer on a property and secure a fabulous deal. After all, homes are not selling quickly, and if sellers want to sell won’t they be willing to agree? We tend to see lots of low-ball offers in this kind of market, but rarely do they get anywhere. Sellers want to get as much for their homes as possible, and certainly don’t want to sell for less than market value, or sell for less than what they paid for it, unless they are in a desperate situation.

Some buyers seem to feel that this is the kind of market where they CAN get a terrific deal. But of course there is lots of competition for those deals too, so the reality is they just don’t happen, except in very unusual circumstances. The most likely place for these types of deals may be auctions, but you still have competition and there are risks inherant in the process.

And even in the case of foreclosures or short sales you still have to get the bank to agree on the price, and they will have an appraisal done. So it is unlikley you will get the home for much less that fair market value and you will have other deal hunters competing with you…and there may be lots of repairs and cosmetics you will have to deal with. 

This is NOT to say you should not try to pay less than asking price, particularly if a home is overpriced, and pay what is fair value for the market for comparable homes. No one wants to overpay, especially in a market where prices may be changing. But to expect you can pay 10 to 20% below market, or less, is probably not reasonable and will likely lead to frustration.

So if you ARE a bargain hunter, hunt away. But if you are serious about getting a good value, do your research and work with an agent who can help you determine what home is right for you, at a price that makes sense, for you AND the seller. Good luck!

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