How To Buy A Home In California
Need to know how to buy a home in California? What you need will depend on the geographic region of the home and the asking price range. While a quality, licensed real estate agent isn't required, one is certainly recommended to get the best buy and to protect your best interests. California home buying involves some legal requirements and some common sense investigation.
To buy a home in California, you will need:
- A computer and access to the internet
- A grant deed
- A title report
- A sales contract
- Disclosure reports
- Home inspection and special reports (optional, but highly recommended)
- Focus on an a geographic area. The state of California is filled with diverse geography and culture. It has large cities, small towns, rural villages and coastal hamlets. Do your research and locate a place that matches with your personal taste.
- Determine your home preferences. Make a list of what you want in a home. Shoot for the sky, but make a list of what you'll settle for.
- Narrow your search to neighborhoods. The most important part of buying a home in California is narrowing the search down to specific neighborhoods. The exact city boundaries for major California cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, are quite small, but when people say, "I live in L.A.," they mean the greater LA area. That's a huge area. Research the areas in the metropolitan regions and pick your favorite areas.
- Pre-qualify for a loan. Most homes in California cost major coin, and most folks need a mortgage to buy. If you don't have cash, line up a loan agent and get yourself pre-qualified for a loan. This will help in figuring out a mortgage payment you can live with.
- Start touring homes. Get out and start looking. Hire an agent or hit the open houses. Either way, you'll end up meeting some real estate agents. Tour more than the three samples featured on the cable network. In fact, walk through as many homes in the target area as you can. This will help give you an idea of what is available, what you like and what your loan will pay for.
- Write a sales contract. You'll need your agent to do this or you'll have to call the agent listing the house. The listing agent may be able to represent both buyer and seller, or you may need to be lined up with a buyer's agent. Check credentials and track record by looking at a resume and calling references before you throw your lot in with any agent. Agents must be licensed in California and belong to a local real estate board to work with many of the tools necessary for business.
- Examine the disclosures. California requires disclosures, many of them. Check out the claims of lead paint, airport noise, registered sex offenders and a host of other disclosures. Ask questions, and if you can't live with the written answers given by the sellers, walk. That's why the disclosures are there. Get everything in writing and don't accept verbal promises or excuses.
- Open escrow and obtain a title report. You're agent will do this, but you'll need to read over the paperwork and sign the documents. Ask questions. Everyone should be licensed in the offices that do this work.
- Obtain funding and get the appraisal done. Get your loan in action and when the escrow papers look good, your loan agent will order up an appraisal.
- Get inspections. Hire a home inspector or farm out the individual jobs of electrician, plumber, roofer, foundation expert or engineer. All should be licensed—a state law—and put a printed report in your waiting hands. If the reports you hire don't match the disclosures, be Lucy of "I Love Lucy" and demand some explaining be done. You can back out of the contract, if damages weren't disclosed. California calls that fraud and the state has strict punishments for non-disclosure.
- Sign all the paperwork. Do the final signatures.
- Deal with any setbacks. Most setbacks are not deal breakers, simply a need to work out problems with give and take on prices and a decision on who should pay for any surprises. Then all you need to do is close escrow and move in!