Buying a home is a BIG step. And that’s why so many people sit on the fence for so long, never taking the plunge for years and years. They may have crunched the numbers, and they may have been to many open houses, but they just can’t seem to commit. So if you’re considering buying a house, you need to know when the time is right – for you. Really, the best time to buy a house is when it makes the most sense for your situation. So let’s see how you can know when it is the right time to buy a house in Los Angeles.
When Benefits Outweigh Costs and Responsibilities
If you buy a house in Los Angeles, you know that along with that purchase come expenses and responsibilities. Sometimes, those expenses and the maintenance and repair tasks seem almost endless. Besides the costs for maintaining, repairing, and upgrading your home, you’ll be facing regularly recurring expenses for things like homeowners insurance, property tax, garbage collection, and so on. It can all be both a financial burden and a time suck.
But owning your own home also has several benefits that make it superior to renting. And when those benefits outweigh the responsibilities and expenses – for you – then it just may be time to buy a house in Los Angeles. Some of the major benefits of homeownership, according to one top real estate site, include:
- Control and freedom – When you own your home, you have control over what you can do with it. You have the freedom to plant fruit trees in the yard, to paint your rooms orange and purple, or to turn the garage into a den.
- Predictable costs – Rent can increase unexpectedly at the whim of your landlord. But with a fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll know exactly what you have to pay each month and can budget accordingly.
- “Ability to make a neighborhood your home – Owning a house allows you to plant some roots and make connections. Because you control how long you’ll stay there, you can settle into a neighborhood and not worry about your landlord selling or charging more rent than you can afford.”
- Equity building – Making monthly mortgage payments may feel like paying rent, but it is, in fact, an investment. Part of every mortgage payment goes toward the principal, so you are building equity month by month.
When You Can Actually Afford It
Another way to know when it is the right time to buy a house in Los Angeles is when you can actually afford it. But there’s a lot more involved in affordability than just the amount of the monthly mortgage payment.
Some of the many other costs you’ll have to factor in when determining if you can afford to buy (some of which we’ve already mentioned) include:
- Down payment (anywhere from 5% to 20% of the purchase price)
- Closing costs (typically around 2% to 5% of the sale price)
- Homeowners insurance
- Property taxes
- HOAfees (in some cases)
- Repairs and maintenance (typically about 1% of the sale price per year for non-fixer-uppers)
You can use an online calculator to perform a side-by-side rent-vs.-buy cost comparison, or, even better, you can consult a local agent at 562-881-9811 for assistance.
When You Have Some Savings
As we just pointed out, you’ll have some substantial upfront costs when you buy a house in Los Angeles. And mortgage lenders will look at these and your ability to pay them when determining how much (if any) they will lend you.
“Before you buy a home,” financial experts advise, “you’ll have to prove to lenders you have the ability – and discipline – to save. If you can’t pony up a down payment of at least 10% (and ideally 20%) of a home’s worth, you aren’t ready to buy that home. The more you put down at the outset, the smaller your mortgage and the less you’ll have to fork over in interest. If you have less then 20%, be prepared to pay private mortgage insurance as well.”
You’ll also need some savings to cover the myriad other – sometimes large and unexpected – expenses we’ve talked about. (Keep in mind, though, that it’s not money lost – you’ll be building equity.) So if you have a reasonable amount of savings, it may be time for you buy.
When You Can Get a Mortgage with a Good Rate
You should also be able to qualify for a mortgage with favorable terms and a good rate. Most people will have to borrow most of the money to buy a house in Los Angeles. And the better interest rate you can get, the less it will cost you in the long run.
So if you have a good credit score, it may be time for you to buy. “Your credit score can determine both if you qualify for a mortgage and how much you’ll pay for it. A great score of, say, 790 will likely earn alow mortgage rate. You might get a mortgage with a 600 score, but your interest will likely be high,”
There are, however, many low-down-payment, low-interest programs available to people with less-than-sterling credit scores. Contact your local agent to find out more about these. Just call 562-881-9811.
When You Find the Right Location/Neighborhood
Location, as the old real estate saying goes, is everything. And so it is. When you buy a house in Los Angeles. you will likely live in the neighborhood for a long time. So after you’ve met the previous criteria and then find a house in a neighborhood you love, it may be time to buy.
In fact, in a recent survey, “five out of six respondents said finding the right neighborhood was equally if not more important than finding the right house. They said they’d give up home features – like pools, storage space, a garage, or a yard – in exchange for a great neighborhood.” After all, your happiness in the home will depend in large part on where that home is located.
When You Find an Agent You Can Trust
Is it, then, the right time to buy a house in Los Angeles? It probably is if you’ve met all the conditions delineated above – and if you’ve also found a good agent you can trust. For the right agent – a local agent – can make all the difference. Find out how our agents can help you make the right choice. Contact us today at 562-881-9811!