If you are a potential home buyer, my team and I are prepared to guide you through the current housing market to find what you’re looking for in a home or investment property. We’ve helped families in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties find their dream homes, and we are prepared to help you find yours. I can walk you through the process of finding the property that meets your needs – whether you plan to downsize or upgrade, are looking for an investment, hoping for a relocation, or ready to buy your very first home. The low-interest rates and reasonable home prices of today’s real estate market coupled with an abundant inventory make this an ideal time to buy. Learn more about these specific areas to help you make an informed decision:
Buying a Home 101
So, you’re looking for a home. Congratulations! Now what? There are many things to be aware of, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced investor. Being informed is the key to a successful transaction. Read this article to learn the top things that every potential home buyer should be aware of before beginning.
First-Time Home Buyer
You are about to make the plunge and purchase your very first home. At whatever stage of life you may be, you know there are specific things that you want and need in your first house. You also need to remember to look at the neighborhood of your home as well. Are there good schools? What is the crime rate? What kind of recreational activities does the area offer? My team and I want to help you find your ideal place.
Making an Offer
You’ve visited numerous homes and you think your search has finally come to an end. Are you ready to make an offer on the house of your dreams? Here’s what you should know about making an offer on a house: what your offer will consist of, how the seller may respond, and what your real estate agent can do to help ensure that your best interests are met in the transaction.
The sales contract you make is legally binding. A sales contract is essentially an offer made by the buyer that has been signed by the seller and is legally binding after the buyer is informed.
If you and your real estate agent have worked together to come up with an offer on a home, in the state of California this will take the form of a formal document that describes the property, offers a certain price, and includes financing terms, the duration of the offer, and more. The seller may reject your offer, or they may accept your terms and sign the document, at which point it becomes a binding contract as soon as you are notified of his or her acceptance. If they make a written counterproposal, changing either the price or some of the terms of your agreement, you can either accept this, reject it, or offer a counterproposal of your own.
When this process is through, hopefully, you and the seller are able to come up with terms that are agreeable to both of you. After this final offer is signed, it becomes a sales contract. This document should include a description of the property and street address; the selling price; the amount of “earnest money,” which is a small “good faith” down payment; who holds the earnest money; the amount of down payment; details of the mortgage; contingencies; who will pay which fees, and more. Your real estate agent can help you understand all the specifics of this important document and can review it with you to make sure that your interests are protected. What difference can a great real estate agent make? Well, for starters, they can help you find the home of your dreams, and once you’ve found it, they can help you make an offer and negotiate a fair price. The goal is to come up with a sales contract that both sides can agree to.
Before you tell the world – wait!
Until that contract has been signed, it’s best not to talk about the home you are bidding on, no matter how excited you may be. The reality is that if a seller hears about your enthusiasm through a mutual friend or on social media, they could use that information to hold out for a higher price, knowing you are more likely to pay it.
It is crucial that you inspect any home you plan to purchase. But how do you find a trustworthy home inspector, and what will your home inspection cover? The person you choose to conduct your pre-purchase inspection is key to a successful outcome. In the state of California, home inspectors are not required to have a license. Ask your potential inspector if he or she is a member of the American Association of Home Inspectors (ASHI), or if they are certified by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA). You can also ask your inspector if he or she has achieved master level certification, which carries additional requirements.
It is ideal if your inspector is a licensed professional engineer so that they are able to assess any structural damage there might be in the house. You can also ask your inspector to provide the contact information for past clients you can speak to and whether he or she offers any guarantees. You will want to know what the inspection will consist of, how much it will cost, and how long it will be before you receive a full report.
You can search for home inspectors in your area on the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website. The best way to find a good home inspector, however, is by word-of-mouth referral from friends, family members or your real estate agent will know which home inspectors are the best in your area, which is important because a local inspector will be able to catch problems that are specific to your neighborhood.
What Is Escrow?
You may have heard this term, but what exactly does “escrow” entail? Essentially, it is a contractual arrangement between a seller and buyer. A third party holds funds until certain contingencies and caveats are fulfilled. Let our team explain escrow to you. In terms of a real estate transaction, putting money in escrow means that a neutral agent holds onto the sum until all of the agreements and contingencies in the sales contract have been met. This arrangement protects both you and the seller. It protects the seller because it means that the money is there, and he or she will not undertake expensive renovations or repairs agreed to in the contract without the surety of payment. It protects you because it ensures that the seller will go through with everything agreed to in the contract. You don’t have to worry that they will take your money and disappear without holding to their end of the agreement or before the home inspection passes.
Escrow allows buyers and sellers to negotiate the terms of a home sale safely. When the transaction is complete, the seller can gather what he or she is owed. The escrow holder – usually a title insurance company or an escrow company – will process the escrow according to the terms of your original agreement with the seller. Escrow is opened after the sales contract has been signed by both parties, at which point the agent places this contract and your deposit check “in escrow.” Escrow is closed when all terms of the agreement have been fulfilled and the real estate is yours.
Informed and Personable Real Estate Services in the San Fernando & Conejo Valley
I have helped clients throughout the Los Angeles, Ventura County, and surrounding communities; find the property that meets their needs. Let my team and I do the same for you. Call our office today to find out more!