Once you are ready to buy a home, please take a look at my easy-to-read and informative guide to the process from financing to moving in. I believe that knowledge is power, so the more you know, the more you will be prepared for the process and the ways I can help you find that special home and complete the transaction. Let’s get started! As always, I’m available to answer any and all questions.
The very first move in buying a new home, has nothing to do with property. As a Home Buyer, the most important starting place is with your mortgage lender, (unless you are paying all cash or financing behind a cash deal). You don’t want to waste your time looking at homes you cannot afford or miss out on a great property because you under estimated what you can afford. If you are buying a residential property with Homeowners Association dues (often listed as HOA fees), you need to understand the impact on how you qualify, as well as your monthly cash flow. If you don’t already have a lender, let me know and I can refer both mortgage bankers and brokers.
Define Your Dream Home:
The next step is to get real about what you need versus what you want when buying a home. Define your non-negotiable features as early as possible. Is it the bed/bath count, commuting distance, pool or view? Does it have to be a Mid-Century Modern or a newly constructed home? You should also think about neighborhoods. The neighborhood where a home is located will have a big impact on its price (and on its resale value). Do you want the ability to walk to services or do you prefer seclusion and privacy? You should also consider schools, traffic and zoning, particularly historic preservation overlay zones (known as HPOZs in Los Angeles).
If you are interested in a historic home or one in a historic district, I will make sure you understand what that means. Will you need to go through a required architectural review to make minor or only major changes to the facade? Is there a Mills Act contract attached to the property and what are the property tax implications? You need to understand all the implications of an HPOZ when deciding to purchase a home.
If you're interested in a particular home, I will provide you with pricing for “comparables” or “comps”—other homes in the area that are roughly the same size and age. There will always be some differences between homes, but this is still a good way to evaluate the seller's asking price.
Making an Offer on a Home:
Once you’ve found a home you’re interested in buying, we will write an offer called the Residential Purchase Agreement.
Typically, you will provide me with the following information to relay to the seller or their representative:
There is far more to negotiate than the purchase price. The strongest offers are not always the highest price offered. Often I have found the strongest offers use other terms that will help the seller either solve a problem or have confidence that the deal will close. How quickly you will complete inspections or remove the contingencies listed above are examples of other terms that you can use. Another is to offer a seller lease-back if their next home won’t be ready in time. You can also negotiate how long the lease-back will run and at what, if any, cost to the seller.
If the offer is not acceptable to the seller, further negotiations may be necessary to reach terms that are agreeable to both buyer and seller. Counter-offers are common, so it is important that we remain in close contact during the negotiation process to quickly review and respond to proposed changes.
Timing is critical!
The day after the Residential Purchase Agreement is signed and delivered to all parties, is the first day of your escrow. And the Buyer’s side has the first move. You have three (3) business days to wire your Earnest Money ( typically 3% in this market) into the escrow account. And, I will ensure that all the necessary paperwork will get to the escrow company, so the process of escrow can begin.
Equally important is setting appointments for inspections. The time of the inspection contingency is not just to complete the inspections. It also includes deciding what to ask the seller to either repair and/or credit you as well as negotiate that request and release the contingency in writing.
Between Contract and Closing:
Escrow can feel overwhelming at times. There is a tremendous amount of paperwork involved in even the simplest of escrows. In fact, all the paperwork is completed prior to the closing, including the signing of the deed.
I am here to help, with a team of professionals, not the least of which is the Transaction Coordinator (TC).
You also have several contractual and statutory deadlines to meet. While everyone’s goal is to stay on time, most escrows experience a small delay usually beyond anyone’s control.
One hiccup worth mentioning: Property Insurance. With so many other demands, it is easy to overlook or underestimate the time needed to secure insurance. This is particularly true for homes in areas deemed in a higher risk for wildfires. If a lender is involved, they will want to see proof of insurance before funding. My best advice is to start shopping early as possible and certainly as soon as contingencies are removed.
Within the five (5) days prior to closing, you'll be given the opportunity to inspect the home. When we do, we will check on any work the Seller agreed to have done in response to the agreed Request For Repair. We will also also check the condition of the property. The requirement is that the home’s condition remains the same as the day you wrote your offer. If we find any problems, we need to notify the Seller immediately and have them corrected before the closing.
In summary, I help you address all of these questions as you prepare to close:
Closing is the formal, neutral process necessary to transfer and record the property’s title from the seller to you.
As you near the closing day, escrow will contact you or me to schedule a closing or signing appointment. (The Seller will also have a signing appointment) At the signing appointment, you will be able to review the estimated closing statement and supporting documentation. This is your opportunity to ask questions and clarify terms. You should review the estimated closing statement carefully and report any discrepancies to the escrow officer.
When all signatures are complete and conditions of the escrow have been met, including receipt of all necessary and cleared funds, escrow then notifies the title company to release the documents for recording. Upon confirmation of recording, escrow completes the prorations and costs in order to reconcile/balance all funds to be disbursed. The final settlement statements and seller’s Closing Disclosure are prepared by escrow.
Once Escrow receives confirmation of the recording, I will be notified. I will then notify you and make arrangements to get you the keys to your new home!
When hiring a moving company, it is well worth the time and energy to make sure the company is reputable. The level of professionalism and integrity among movers can vary significantly. I can make recommendations and you should ask your friends and co-workers for recommendations. Then get estimates from several companies. Coldwell Banker can also coordinate a free moving estimate. I am more than willing to offer assistance to new homeowners; all you have to do is ask.
Moving requires extensive planning, particularly if you are relocating, but the experience does not have to be overly stressful. Here are my suggestions to help you organize:
And If It’s A Long Distance Move:
One Week Before Moving:
On Your Moving Day:
Here are items you may need immediately upon arriving at your new home.
Snacks and basic food items: