It’s a New Year, which means that many Orange County families are making plans and resolutions, including whether it’s time for them to buy their perfect Orange County home! As you’ve seen in our recent blog posts, home prices are going up in Orange County. But that does not mean that with the help of an experienced Orange County realtor that you can’t find your dream home at a great price! Recent news shows that mortgage rates have dropped slightly, which is good news for any real estate investor.

If you are considering buying a home in Orange County in 2013, here are 5 tips to consider:

Speak with a Lender

Whether you go to your bank, a direct lender, credit union or mortgage broker, you need to see if you can qualify for a loan. Talk to a knowledgeable Orange County realtor for suggestions on who you might reach out to to discuss a home loan. A loan officer will run the numbers to set your price range for financing, which will help you and your Orange County real estate agent determine the types and locations of properties that fit within your budget. The lender will also pull a credit report. If you see any potential credit issues, you can start working now to improve your score and lock in the best mortgage rate when the time comes.

Find The Right Real Estate Agent

We shared our tips on how to find the rightrealestate in Orange County for you in this blog post. It is important to remember that you want to work with a realtor you can trust to best represent you. Talk to friends and acquaintances for referrals. Good information to find out is how many properties they’ve sold in the past few years, their accreditations, and knowledge of the area. A trustworthy realtor in Orange County will be able to provide you with a list of past clients you can speak with to hear about their experience.

Get Educa

Perhaps the least exciting part of the process, it is crucial that you educate yourself about the home-buying process. Buying a home in Orange County will likely be your most expensive purchase to date and you should consider it carefully. Talk to friends and family and perform quality research online about neighborhoods, the loan application process, etc…

Start Looking!

Some Orange County zip codes might be out of your price range, but that does not mean you do not consider all the neighborhoods that do fit within your budget. We suggest driving through them without your agent during the day, at night and on the weekend to get an accurate feel for the areas. Check out your potential neighbors’ properties, any retail spaces nearby and of course, look online for neighborhood ratings, crime reports and school ratings. A knowledgeable realtor in Orange County will also be a good source of neighborhood information.

With a price range for a potential home from your lender, a great real estate agent in Orange County on your side, and a solid education on the home-buying process and the areas where you want to live, you’re now better prepared to make 2013 the year of the home purchase.

For more Orange County real estate news and happenings, follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylSellsOC or check her out on Facebook at CherylSellsOrangeCounty.