5 Home Buying Tips Everyone Should Know
Home buying is Southern California is challenging to say the least. The drive live in Southern California is strong because it is so desirable to live here (great weather, entertainment, high salaries, mountains, ocean etc).
High rents and the fact that it is easy to want to set roots here make homeownership the natural step for many of us but we are far from alone. Heavy competition for home ownership makes LA real estate some of the priciest in the country and once you have the finances to take the plunge the nuance of the market throws many people off.
As a Realtor in Los Angeles County I work with buyers on a daily basis and these are the five key tips I share with all of them as they prepare to take the plunge of home shopping.
#1. There is No “Perfect” Home.
No house will have everything that you desire no matter what price range you are in. This holds true for the $600,000 condo shopper or the $10,000,000 mansion buyer. Not enough space, flow of layout, location, work that needs to be done it is all relative. More often than not, negating a property as not being the “right one” is more a cause of our internal fears to commit than it is the house itself. It is just human nature.
Rather than let fear get the best of you, I advise clients to make a list of the key priorities. Keep it to three or four items max. For example it could look like: Location in proximity to your work or school districts (no one wants a long commute), number of bedrooms, maximum budget based on mortgage rate that equates to 33% of your income and a specific architectural style.
Land this list and home shopping becomes a lot easier. Look at a bunch of houses that fit this list and know that you can make the changes you thought you wanted over time. Holding out for the perfect property will have you renting for years.
So key in not only giving you a very clear picture on what you will actually qualify in a home loan but also give you a sense of what a true monthly mortgage payment would be (which is more important that the actual home price). Pre-Approval will also make you a powerful buyer. Having this done before you start shopping prevents the mad scramble for old taxes when you find that house you and eight other people want.
Most don’t realize that the lender that does your Pre-Approval doesn’t have to be the person that does the loan. Get a pre-approval where ever you feel comfortable and then “shop” the loan in escrow from one of all the following: An online lender, a large bank and an independent lender. generally you will see the independent lender has the best rates.
#3. See a Lot of Homes
I always tell clients you will need to see 20+ homes to find the one, but this should be done in a 30 day window and not stretched out over a year. I often schedule ten-property tours for my clients and get it done in an afternoon. proper planning and the magic of Google Maps and Waze make it very possible and stress-free.
Seeing a bunch of homes in rapid fashion gives you perspective of what the market is and what varied neighborhoods are going to be like. Get comfortable with setting up searches on sites like Redfin and/or Zillow, just know they share 99.9% of the same inventory. Only Compass.com will feature properties that other sites don’t have. This is because of heavily advocated Coming Soon program that includes Compass listings (close to 20% of all listings in LA) before they hit the MLS. Set up a search or ask a Compass agent to create a custom Collection for you.
#4. Home Inspection
Over 50% of the homes in LA County will have been constructed prior to 1950 and that will generally cause some challenges. Owners over the years have made changes to the house from top to bottom and many times the quality of the work is un-permitted and questionable in quality and safety.
A good agent will be well versed in what to look for and what potential pitfalls exist especially when it comes to the “mechanicals” of a house: Roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC. Knowing that the home has original galvanized plumbing or the feared “Knob and Tube” wiring is highly beneficial in the home shopping process because these things indicate substantial repairs in the homeowners future.
As a failsafe, there is the home inspection. This is performed by an independent inspector that you hire to fully diagnose a property while in escrow. These inspectors have no affiliation to construction trades so their duty is purely to tell you what is good and what is bad about the property.
#5. Commit to A Great Agent
Real Estate agents are often lumped in with car salesman and seen as snakes that are just looking to get you into any home for a big commission. While there are agents that fall into this real, there is a growing percentage of us that take great pride in what we do for our clients and all of us are thankfully governed by online reviews these days.
A good agent puts in the work, thinks ahead and puts your needs the number one priority. A bulk of my business comes from referrals, I want to make sure you rave to your friends and family about the work I do for you. It is not only a major pride point for me, but it is my livelihood.
Stick with that agent and they will stick to you. Playing the “dating game” with a bunch of agents gives them very little affinity to work hard for you.
REALTOR®-Compass Real Estate
Michael Robleto is a Los Angeles based REALTOR® that specializes in Historic Pre-War residential properties and those with architectural merit. Home buying and home selling is extremely challenging in Southern California. Michael uses his vast knowledge of historic homes, residential construction and modern day marketing and digital technology to predict and solve the many problems that arise in real estate transactions. His client accolades of insight, integrity and hard work support the fact that he is not your average agent.
Michael leverages his personal passion for historic architecture to provide his clients the unknown insight on the pros and cons of older homes. Michael, the son of a contractor, a California native, grew up in an older Bungalow home and has spent 23 years in Southern California admiring the unique architecture of the region. He often writes on homeownership strategy, historic residential architecture and related topics which can be found on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram under the common profile name of his blog; BungalowAgent or at www.BunaglowAgent.com/blog.
Michael is a committee member and frequent volunteer for the preservation efforts of Pasadena Heritage, the La Conservancy as well as a supporter of the Five Acres center for children.