Especially for first-time homebuyers, the process of buying a house may seem overly complicated and not a little overwhelming, which is made worse by all the industry jargon. The best thing to do then is to think of it terms of that old question that asks, “How do you eat an elephant?” And the answer is, of course, one bite at a time. This is just another way to say that a seemingly impossible task becomes manageable when you tackle it one small step at a time in an orderly fashion. With that in mind, we offer this step by step process for buying a house in Los Angeles.
Buying a House in Los Angeles Step by Step
So let’s jump right in and begin eating that elephant with these steps . . .
GET A HANDLE ON YOUR CREDIT SCORE
Unless you’re wealthy or have some wealthy and very kind relatives, you will, like most of us, have to borrow money to buy a house in Los Angeles. And in order to get that mortgage, your credit score will have to meet your lender’s minimum requirements – and higher is always better.
According to a top real estate site, “a first-time buyer will need a decent credit score. This three-digit number is a numerical summary of your credit report, a detailed document outlining how well you’ve paid off past debts like for credit cards and college student loans. A lender will check your score and report in order to estimate the odds that you will deliver your monthly payment, too. In turn, the lender will use this info to decide whether or not to loan you money, as well as how much and at what interest rate.”
So you must find out what your credit score is and, if it’s too low, begin working on getting it back up. Your local agent can provide tips to help you out here. (To find out more, just call 562-881-9811.)
KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD
The other side of the credit score coin is what you can really afford. Just because you can borrow a certain amount doesn’t mean you should. Key in making this determination is being aware that your monthly mortgage payment isn’t the only cost of buying a house in Los Angeles. You have to factor in a host of other costs and expenses – for example, closing costs, private mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, property taxes, utility bills, maintenance, and more.
Once you’ve taken these two preliminary steps, it’s time to get down to the actual process of buying a house in Los Angeles, which begins with your getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval means that your lender will assess your financial situation and “then give you a letter that states the amount they would be willing to lend you. If you get in a multiple-offer scenario, being pre-approved may give you an edge because the seller will have more confidence that you will be approved for a loan large enough to purchase their home.”
START HOUSE HUNTING
After getting pre-approved, your next step toward buying a house in Los Angeles involves the actual shopping. Ideally, you will have discussed your needs and wants with your agent so that you both know exactly what you’re looking for and where. (Find out more about this step by contacting your local agent at 562-881-9811.)
MAKE AN OFFER
Once you find a house you like, it’s time to make an offer. This is the part of buying a house in Los Angeles where the rubber really meets the road and the butterflies set in. The list price is your starting point, and the negotiations (including concessions) go from there. You make an offer and then wait for a response, which can be acceptance, rejection, or a counter offer. The best course here is to lean on the experience and expertise of your agent.
GET AN INSPECTION
Buying a house in Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily and always require an inspection, but it’s a step that shouldn’t be skipped. Here’s why, according to industry pros: an inspector carefully examines the house “to make sure there are no unseen defects you want to negotiate to have fixed. But more importantly, this is the most time you’ll get to spend in your new home until closing. Go ahead and start measuring things and figuring out what goes where. This may be the last time you are inside the home until it is yours, several weeks from now.”
GET INSURANCE AND UTILITIES IN PLACE
A house is a huge investment that you need to protect. So the next step in the process of buying a house in Los Angeles is to get insurance coverage (which is usually required by your lender anyway). You should also ensure that utilities will be turned on before or by your move-in date. You don’t want to move into a cold, dark house, and you certainly don’t want any pipes to freeze.
CLOSE AND GET THE KEY
The final step in the process of buying a house in Los Angeles, the one that makes it truly yours, is closing. This is where you sign all the final official documents and the money changes hands. The title is transferred, you get the key to your new home, and, as per the sale contract, you move in on the appointed day. And now you’ve crossed the finish line.
The Most Important Step
We’ve left this step in buying a house in Los Angeles till last because it is perhaps the most important and deserves separate treatment. And that is to find a qualified local real estate agent. Why? “Most first-timers,” the experts say, “will want a great real estate agent – specifically a buyer’s agent, who will help them find the right houses, negotiate a great real estate deal, and explain all of the nuances of home buying along the way.” Find out how our agents can assist you and help make this elephant seem a little smaller.