First-Time Home Buyers
If you are a first-time home buyer in the LA area, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in Los Angeles, CA.
- Pre-Qualification: Meet with a local LA mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
- Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers are much more interested and will be more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when you've spent your time pursuing homes that are out of your price range. When going through the Pre-Approval process, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually allow you to pay them when you close on your loan.
- List of Needs & Wants: Sit down and make 2 lists. The first should include items you MUST have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, or things you would LIKE or would be nice to have (i.e., pool, game room, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track and focused on what you are looking for.
- Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
- Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
- One or more detailed maps of your areas of interest. Including nearby schools, parks, commute to work, etc to get an idea of what it would be like living there.
- A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads or listings that you have found on your own.
- Paper and pen, for taking notes and phone numbers as you search.
- Your phone or camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, amenities and features - especially if you are attending a series of showings all in one weekend.
- Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms and flow of the house laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? Even in highly-sough after LA neighorhoods, often, there are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
- Be Thorough: A few extra dollars wisely spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. An experienced agent can help you not to forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.