Are you looking to buy a home or condo on the Westside? Here are 8 common sense tips to help you find the best property quickly.
1. Needs and Wants
Before you do anything, sit down and make a list of your wants and needs. Write down everything that comes to mind. This list will most likely change several times as you learn more about all your options on the Westside. You may change what is the most and least important to you. For example, you may want a home as close to Venice Beach as possible, but once you see the type of home you get in your price range in that area your priorities may change. Do you need a swimming pool, 4 bedrooms, large lot, convenient location? Prioritize your list because unless you have an unlimited budget you will probably have to make compromises.
2. Establish a Price Range
This step is crucial. Figure out how much you are willing to allocate each month for your housing expense. Some of you will be able to pay cash, but you will still have expenses in the way of property taxes, insurance and maintenance. If you are getting a mortgage talk to your bank or lender to see what you qualify for or contact us for a list of mortgage brokers that we’ve had success with. You may be able to get a loan up to $1,500,000 but that does not mean you need or want to spend that much.
It is important to match your budget with your needs and wants. We all want a home on the beach but if your price range is $800,000 forget about it.
3. Mortgage Pre-Approval is a Critical Step
Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking for homes. Often times a buyer wants to go find a home and then figure out how to pay for it. That is backwards. Find out what you can or are willing to afford and then start looking for properties. Sometimes people think they can buy a home for $1,500,000 only to find out after they spoke with a lender that they can only afford $900,000. The key to not waste time and create unrealistic expectations. Pre-qualification by a lender isn’t enough to put in an offer. It’s a pre-approval that sellers want to see.
4. Pick a Great Realtor
Find an expert to work with or better yet an entire team of skilled individuals. A great Realtor will shorten your learning curve tremendously. Ask for referrals or go online then interview a few to find the right fit. An agent should be professional, experienced, ethical and work full time. You as the buyer, do not need to compensate a Realtor. They get paid by the seller so it makes sense to have expert assistance.
5. Learn the Real Estate Market
Have your Realtor send you homes or condos that have recently sold within your price range for the last 3-6 months. Do you like any of them? Often times a home buyer only likes properties that are outside their budget. A buyer may love what they get for $900,000 but has a budget of $700,000. In this case only two things can happen. Either raise your budget or lower your expectations. A skilled team can guide you to alternative options that you may never have thought of, like a location you weren’t aware of, or a different type of property.
6. Favorite Neighborhoods
Make a list of your favorite neighborhoods. Make sure your price range matches what those locations have to offer. Communicate to your agent why these neighborhoods are attractive to you. They may be able to match your needs and wants to an alternative location.
7. What is Currently For Sale
You figured out what you wanted, got pre-approved for a mortgage (assuming that you are not paying cash), established a comfortable price range, found a good Realtor, learned the real estate market and made a list of your favorite communities. Now it is time to start looking at homes. Have your Realtor provide you with a list of homes that match your needs, price range and are within your favorite areas. Drive by these homes or have your Realtor book appointment for private showings. The agent that accompanies you may point out interesting details that you may overlook. Again, don’t do this until you are ready to purchase. The real estate market changes daily so if you find the perfect house today it may not be there tomorrow.
You may look at everything for sale and not fall in love with anything. That is ok. The best properties still sell very fast and you may just need to wait it out. Just have your Realtor put you on an automated email program to send you listings in your favorite communities as they come on the market and make sure they preview homes for you right when they come on the market. Eventually, you will find your dream home.