Buyer's Guide



Buying a home is a huge milestone – and we can help you get prepared!
​​​​​​​Follow this guide to make sure you have everything in order before you get those keys.

Get ready to become a homeowner

  • Make sure your credit score is in line, and there are no errors on your credit report. 

  • Try and pay off some debts before speaking to a lender. This will make you a more attractive borrower.

  • Reduce your spending and make a monthly budget. Remember: you’ll soon have to deal with inspection fees, closing costs, and moving services, and those can add up! 

  • Decide what kind of mortgage you can afford. Generally, you want to look for homes valued between two and three times your gross income, but a financing professional can help determine the size of loan for which you’ll qualify. 

  • Peruse Zillow and make a note of the homes that appeal to you, what style of home you would like to be in, and other important amenities, floor plans, or features. 
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  • Save up for a downpayment or check with your state and local government to find out whether you qualify for special mortgage or down payment assistance programs. ​​​​​​​

Determine what kind of loan you qualify for

  • If you’re a California first–time home buyer with a 20% down payment, you can get a conventional loan with a low-interest rate. And you never have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which adds roughly $200-500 to your monthly mortgage payment per month that you never get back when you sell. However, few first–time buyers have saved a full 20% down payment. ​​​​​​​

  • The good news is, you don’t need 20% down; California buyers can often get into a new home with as little as 3% or even 0% down using one of these mortgage programs:

  • Conventional 97 – From Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. 3% down payment and 620 minimum credit score. You can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years.
  • FHA loan – Backed by the Federal Housing Administration. 3.5% down and a 580 minimum credit score. But you’re on the hook for mortgage insurance until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move homes, or pay off your loan.
  • VA loan – This financial assistance is only available for veterans and service members. Zero down payment is required. Minimum credit score varies by lender, and there is no ongoing mortgage insurance after closing. These are arguably the best mortgages available, so apply if you’re eligible.
  • USDA loan – For those on low–to–moderate incomes buying in designated rural areas. Zero down payment is required. Credit score requirements vary by lender but often 640.
  • CalHFA mortgage programs – Government and conventional home loans offered via the California Housing Finance Agency. Offers 30–year fixed–rate first mortgages along with homebuyer assistance.

Speak with us to get started

  • When you’ve got the above in order, we should start our conversation so we can help narrow in on some homes you would like. 

  • We can then recommend you to some of our lenders we have worked with before to help you get pre-qualified for a mortgage. You will need to start getting your W2, pay stubs, and bank account statements together for a credit check and a full overview of your finances. 
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  • Before we start to tour some homes, let us know how many bedrooms you’d like if local schools are important to you, what size you’d want, and any other factors that are important to your next home.

Tour Los Angeles real estate

  • Once you are pre-qualified, let's start looking at some homes!

  • Remember to keep an open mind but let us know your real feelings about each home we show you. You won’t offend us if you don’t love what we show you, and we would rather you be happy than disappointed in the end!

  • Keep detailed notes on each home, what you liked, what you didn’t like, and give us some direction if you want to see different things.
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Let's make an offer!

  • You found the one you love, so it's time to make an offer!

  • Contact your lender so they can run a search on the title. 

  • The lender will go over the financing terms with you; make sure you clearly understand the terms and what is expected of you as a borrower. Ask lots of questions if this is your first time buying. 

  • Negotiate! Sometimes the seller will come back with a counter-offer. Let us help you here with appropriate counter-offers back to them. 

  • You’ve settled on the price: now get the home inspected. 

  • PRO TIP: It’s always a good idea to add a contingency clause into your offer stating that you have a certain amount of time to have the property inspected. This gives you the right to back out of the agreement if you and the seller can’t agree on repairs or if there are glaring issues with the home. 

  • Keep your credit score stable during this time! ANY large purchases or changes to your credit score at this time could cause the seller or lender to back out.
     

  • Get an appraisal: the bank or lender will order that the appraisal, title search, and final financing terms are set before you can officially close. The qualified appraiser will create a report based on market value, square footage, and amenities to determine the property’s appraisal value.
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  • Once everything is set, it’s time to sign those papers!

Pop the champagne, you closed! But then…

  • Protect your new home with homeowner’s insurance with flood, fire, and disaster coverage. All Los Angeles homes should have earthquake and fire coverage, so remember to add that to your policy.

  • Weatherproof your new home if it needs to be updated.

  • Make sure you have copies of your warranty and homeowner’s insurance inside your home. It’s smart to digitize these documents for easy access!

  • Keep your original closing documents in a very safe place, like a safe or bank deposit box.

  • Set up utilities in your name at your new address.

  • Get any painting needed to be completed before you start to move in.

  • Determine a move-in date and hire movers if needed.
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  • Move in and start your new life in your new home!

We would be thrilled to assist you in your search of the Los Angeles area, and we promise to make this exciting new chapter of your life as seamless as possible. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ®

7 Reasons to Own a Home



Tax benefits

The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.

Appreciation

Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.  The recent housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but even in the most recent 10 years, which included quite a few very bad years for housing, values are still up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.

Equity

Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.

Savings

Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.

Predictability

Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.

Freedom

The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.

Stability

Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity.

Work With Us

With our extensive knowledge and commitment to providing only the best and most timely information to our clients, we are your go-to source for real estate industry insight and advice.

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