#34 John Gephart's passion is Oahu real estate. Born in Honolulu and having lived here for much of his life, John has seen first-hand the changing urban landscape of Honolulu and its suburbs and is excited to share his knowledge of Oahu's neighborhoods with those he meets.
As an experienced real estate broker, John truly lives a rewarding, yet challenging life. He enjoys immensely aiding his clients in finding their ideal new home or investment property or seamlessly selling their property to its maximum potential. He also specializes in helping clients purchase new development projects throughout the island of Oahu.
The countless referrals and testimonials lay testament to his warmth and compassion. His knowledgeable yet personable nature allows his clients to feel comfortable and at ease when making such an important decision in real estate.
In this episode, John shares his best tips on how to prepare your finances to buy your first home and how to choose the right real estate agent or broker that's right for you.
To learn more about John Gephart, visit his website at https://www.urbanoahu.com/.
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Thank you Jennifer for having me. I'm a full-time realtor here in Honolulu at Coldwell banker and I’ve been doing this now for just over 10 years. Let's see born and raised here. I was a former financial advisor in the past so that somewhat helps me relate to some specific budgeting and finance questions that some of my clients have. I love to help people find a house and help them make it easy for them.
I'm also a family man. I have couple of daughters and married for almost 20 years now. I've been through the home buying process myself and just enjoy helping others do the same. Well congratulations on almost 20 years of marriage that’s amazing. And you have and you have two beautiful daughters. I know one is heading out to college.
Thank you for saying yes for being on the podcast today because I get this question all the time. When people come to me it’s like Jen I really want to buy a place on of my own. What things should I be looking for? What are the foundations that I should prepare for before going to the bank and asking for a mortgage getting preapproved or finding a realtor and asking them to get a place on my own?
Working with you has been great as well because you are helping me and Alden to find a place of our own as well and really laid out the process from us from the foundations to what we should be preparing for to how to make an offer and et cetera. And we won't get into too much of the details today, but I really wanted to talk about the foundations for somebody who is just starting out in the process.
And let's say they’re not sure about the numbers or what the market looks like. All they know is that the market is tied right now, and everyone keeps saying you need to buy a place now. So what do you think about that? The first step usually is for the buyer or a prospective buyer to make the decision that this is what they want to do.
Then which is like buying a home for the me if it's the first time they have to make that decision and then they have to commit to doing it. And by committing that means the first step would be obviously to make that first the commitment to yourself to that you want to buy a home which would mean then let's start let’s meet with a realtor right?
So, you meet with a realtor because sometimes people put the cart before the horse and started looking at houses and without knowing what they even qualify for which is nice too. I mean because if you're like just starting out sometimes it just getting your feet wet and just looking at places makes you happy.
Right. But once you get really serious about it you don't wanna fall in love with something that you might not afford for one. And then you also wanna know what you can qualify for or what you can purchase. So meeting with a realtor is always a good first step even if you're not planning to buy for a year or two years because you need to know what the foundations are like you said and you want the process to be fun as well and not stressful.
So usually what I say is let's talk. Do like a quick 30 minute meeting what we what we did ours was a little longer but 30 - 45 minutes and and talk about what where you live currently. Right. Okay. How much do you pay in rent if you're renting? how much if you're renting if you're living at home like are there ways how much are you saving so that you can have an idea of.
That how much you would be willing to spend on a monthly payment for a ho for a house when the time comes. Right? That was my first question I think to you how much do you guys pay from what's your rent? Like? So are you comfortable paying that? So and then once you kind of have that idea then setting yourself up with a mortgage broker that usually somebody that I would work with I would refer the client to a mortgage broker just to see where they're at.
Right. Because you don't know where but you can afford unless what you can afford. Right. So even if you're not doing something in the Fu and you're not gonna purchase until the future. Just knowing where you are today really helps with the that foundation building. And then that mortgage person can actually tell you what you might need to do to get your credit better or maybe be able to buy more home later by maybe paying some debt down.
So really getting a snapshot of what your financial. Picture looks like is the first step so that when the time comes to purchase a home that process is fun and not stressful. That's such great advice. I like how you said people most people put the cart before the horse and I find this too when I'm coaching people it's like should I invest here?
Should I do this? Should I do that? It's like hold up first. We need to know our numbers and going through the mortgage process or even just looking online. I think that's the scariest part. Finding out the numbers going through the numbers and realizing wait maybe I'm not ready yet. Maybe I do need to increase my income and decrease my expenses get a little get a better handle on my my budget and my personal finances before I start this process.
And I know for us, we've been budgeting for years but that was the scariest part for us is meeting with Kelly the mortgage broker. And when she asked those questions okay where are you guys? What is your income? What is your expenses? Like how much do you have save? It's kind of like standing naked.
I wanna say like the show The Biggest Loser where you're standing on the scale and everybody is seeing how much you weigh. It's kind of like that. Like you're just laying everything out there. But once your n bers once where your starting point is then you can just go from there.
I think that's yeah that's great. That's exactly what you should do. It’s okay to be scared because it's like a big purchase. When asked or as long as you're honest about where you are then you can get a good picture of what you can afford. The mortgage person Kelly, she can get a good picture for you so that you can lay a roadmap so that if it's not the right time like what do we do to make.
The right time in the future. And there's so many different programs out there. A lot of people just are scared. Like oh I can't do it but there's so many programs likeloan programs out there zero down 3% 5% 3.5% down payment programs that you don't need. The 20% that you tradit.
Like people traditionally think oh I need 20% before I can buy something. But totally not true when it comes to being a first time home buyer. And so sometimes that's just like the biggest barrier that people have is the thought that they need 20% which is a lot of money in the Hawaii market.