Buying an Orange County home: a very exciting time - and one that can prove either easy or difficult depending on whom you select to represent you. Whether you are looking for a home in Irvine with white picket fences, a Newport Coast ocean view home, a lot to develop a custom home in Shady Canyon, or a high-rise unit in Costa Mesa, the Clark Group can help you make sense of the process of buying property in Orange County. It can be a bit confusing, if not downright scary, for many. This section is designed to help you decide if you're ready to buy a home, and will also discuss some of the benefits of owning your own home.
Why should you consider buying? First off, buying a house puts your money to work for you. Historically, property values rise at a rate faster than most of us can save and, over time, beat the rate one can achieve by putting ones money in an interest-bearing savings account. This makes owning a home a great investment. Plus, rents are on the rise upward, which means your monthly expenditures can change very quickly. Assuming you choose a conventional mortgage, your mortgage payment will be consistent: that means your housing expenses will be stable. In short, you can stabilize your monthly expenses, and put the money you pay in rent back into your own pocket.
Timing and knowledge are keys to finding and taking advantage of opportunities, especially in real estate. Having a good Realtor can mean the difference between not only finding you your dream home, but also helping you actually buy it for the best price possible. From negotiating the best price and terms, to managing the inspection and escrow process, the Clark Group of Coldwell Banker should be your #1 choice when buying a home in Orange County. Click here to set-up a meeting to discuss working with us.
If you are currently not a homeowner in California, you will find there are some unique things about buying a home here. One item of note is a special tax called "Mello-Roos." Please note that is in addition to your property taxes. Email us or call us at 949-285-1207 to discuss buying or selling a home or investment property.
To find your next home, click here to begin your search.
Here are the key steps to buying a home and how The Clark Group can help make the process easier.
Step One: Contact a Realtor
Contact a Realtor. We will need to spend some time discussing your needs and what is important to you. Plus, we will discuss areas of finance. It would be an honor to represent you in finding you your next home or investment property. To make an appointment to discuss how the Clark Group of professionals makes the home buying process less stressful, fill out our online request form, email us or call us at 949-285-1207.
>> Familiarize yourself with the jargon. There are many foreign terms and acronyms you will be encountering over the next few weeks. Like all industries, real estate has it's own vocabulary. Words like escrow, acceleration clause, and contingency are foreign to many people. Click here for our Glossary of Terms. Naturally, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
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Step Two: Contact A Lender
We recommend that before you begin your house hunting, you contact a lender. During our meeting, we will discuss financing, but detailed loan questions should be handled by a dedicated loan professional. (We also suggest you contact your accountant with any tax questions.) If you don't have a preferred lender, email us, or call us at 949-285-1207 and we will provide you with the name and phone number of mortgage brokers and lenders that provide excellent service and will take time to answer any questions you may have regarding the mortgage loan process.
>> What Lenders Look For: First thing they look at is your ability to repay the loan by reviewing your credit history, monthly gross income, and the amount of your savings to be used for the down payment. For more information on preparing for the mortgage process, please click here.
>> Pull Your Credit Report. We recommend reviewing ones credit report yearly; this will head off most surprises during the loan process. Click here for your free yearly credit report. For additional information on checking your credit report, click here.
>> Find Out How Much House You Can Afford. A basic rule of thumb when purchasing a home is that you should budget one-third of your income for your mortgage, tax and insurance payments. Click here for a mortgage calculator that will give you an idea of how much house your payments will be.
NOTE: Buying a home involves something called closing costs. Plan ahead for paying the closing costs. Sometimes these can be negotiated into the purchase price (paid for by the seller); if not, the sellers' agent will need to "verify funds" in the first 7 days of the open of escrow. (What they will do is verify that you have any additional downpayment funds liquid, and have funds available to pay the anticipated closing costs. We highly recommend you plan on having these funds available so there are no surprises prior to the close of escrow.
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Step Three: Look At Properties
We go look at those homes we have identified as meeting your needs and are in your range of affordability. There are literally hundreds - if not thousands - of homes available in Orange County that, at first blush, would merit inclusion in the list of homes to look at. Therein lies the value of my Buyer Consultation: it allows me to apply stricter parameters to what is included in the list of homes for us to look at. (A side note: Our team looks at upwards of 100 homes a week; most every home we show you will have been personally previewed by a member of The Clark Group to double-check that the initial listing information and pictures give an accurate representation of the property. This is another huge time saver for you: We don't leave anything to chance, and have no desire to take you to see something which doesn't fit your needs.)
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Step Four: Negotiate the Purchase Offer & Terms
We have found that there can be as much money "made" when purchasing a home as there is when selling it. When a seller considers a purchase offer, many times it is not just the price they are considering: the terms and conditions of the offer are also very important. Does the prospective buyer need to sell a home before they can buy mine? (Called a contingency.) Do they need a longer escrow to save a few more $$$ so they can pay the closing costs? Is the buyer financially qualified to buy my home? These are just a few of the issues the seller and the sellers' agent will go over once they receive the purchase offer(s). Having an experienced negotiator representing you is very important. The Residential Purchase Agreement is 8 pages long; we will answer all questions regarding it while discussing our strategy of getting your offer accepted.
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Step Five: Open & Monitor the Escrow
In California, we use separate escrow and title companies to handle the funds and verify property details. (In some states attorneys handle the escrow.) During the period that precedes the removal of contingencies (typically 17 days in California), it is required that the buyer have their home inspection, appraisal, request for repairs submitted, and all disclosures completed. We will coordinate with the sellerss agent the date and time of the home inspection, appraisal and final walk-through. It is customary for the sellers' agent to be present during the appraisal and for the buyers' agent to be present during the inspection. Click to view what charges and fees to expect for escrow and title.
We will have many forms to go over. These include disclosures regarding the condition of the property (Sellers Property Questionnaire (SPQ), an 8 page form), Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS - a 3 page form), Smoke Detector, Water Heater, Statewide Sellers Advisory, Wood Pest (termite), the Request For Repairs, and other miscellaneous forms. You will also need to contact your insurance company, utility companies and prepare for the change in address. Also, don't forget about the movers!
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Step Six: Home Inspection
We STRONGLY recommend that, when purchasing a property, you have the property inspected by a trained, licensed professional. Spend the few hundred dollars it takes to have an experienced licensed home inspector. We recommend using members of the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), a voluntary, nonprofit public-benefit organization of real estate inspectors. This is no time to try to save a few bucks; a good inspector will make you aware of not just the general condition of the property, but also alerts you to potential problem areas, including changes made that are not up to code, electrical problems, ventilation issues, etc. Again, we very strongly recommend paying for a home inspection.
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Step Seven: Follow-Up: Request For Repairs & Final Walk-Through
A huge part of a smooth transaction is follow up. This involves not just negotiating the forms, but also make sure that all required timelines are met and complied with. I'm referring to lender needs during the escrow with verification of funds, work approvals, appraisers, home inspectors, termite inspectors, home warranty companies, property repairs requested via our Request For Repairs, and the Final Walk Through. There is lots to do after an offer to purchase is accepted. Having an experienced Realtor to guide you through this process is critical.
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Step Eight: Closing
Closing on a home is almost anti-climatic. Closing occurs when escrow is notified that "good funds" have been received to pay for closing costs, the loan(s) are funded, and the deed is recorded with the County Recorder. This is the final step in the process. Congratulations, you are now the owner! Both agents receive notice from escrow that escrow has closed and the closing statements are now available (see below). Both escrow and I are available to review the closing statement and answer any questions you have about the closing.
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>> After closing, be certain to check your closing statement (sent by escrow) and your lenders Good Faith Estimate. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) allows the borrower to request to see the HUD-1 Settlement Statement that shows all actual charges imposed on borrower in connection with the settlement one day before the settlement, so you will have already received a great amount of information on the fees and charges you are paying to buy or sell the property. If you see a charge or fee that doesnt look right, give your lender or escrow a call. (Note that the closing statement as issued by escrow is a series of debits and credits: by law, they must add up perfectly. That is, the debits must equal the credits to the penny. If you have questions about the closing statement give escrow a call first then, if you still have questions, call your Realtor.
It is a very exciting time, buying or selling a home. I look forward to the privilege of representing you. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. Good luck in all your real estate endeavors!
I Still Have Questions
We would be glad to answer any questions you have. Our telephone number is 949-285-1207. We can also be reached via email. Click here for our address or, if you would like to send us the request from our website, click here.
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