Advice For First Time Home Buyers

Advice For First Time Home Buyers

Five Tips for First Time Home Buyers

If you are a new buyer and want to position yourself for homeownership:

1. Establish good credit habits and a favorable credit history

Get a credit card and use it responsibly. Apply for an automobile loan and make your payments on time every month. If you’re renting an apartment, put your own name on the lease and the utility bills and make sure the rent and the bills are paid every month. If you’re already struggling with credit card debt or have large student loans, take a free workshop from Apprisen, formerly the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Call (800) 355-2227 for information.

2. Start saving for a down payment and closing costs

It’s possible to purchase a first home in many parts of the country without much in the way of savings. But in high-cost housing areas, starting to save early can be enormously beneficial because you’ll get the advantage of compounding interest and have a longer period of time to grow your investments. Open a savings account or a stock brokerage investment account and make regular deposits.

3. Make a financial plan

Use your local library and bookstore probably have at least a few shelves of books about financial management and buying a home. Take notes. Make a financial plan for yourself. You can learn a lot about real estate, budgeting and credit on® too.

4. Research neighborhoods and towns

Many young people assume they’ll continue living in their own home town when they get older, but people are more mobile than ever and chances are good you’ll one day live in another city or even another state. Again, the library, bookstore and Web can be excellent resources for information about housing costs and home ownership opportunities around the country and in various neighborhoods.

5. Tap your relatives for advice

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or older cousins with experience buying real estate can give you good information about the cost of housing in the area where you want to live and what it takes to buy a home. Questions to ask: Is housing affordable in this area? How much money would I need to save in order to buy a home? What advice would you give me about planning my financial future? Would you recommend some books that I might like to read about buying a home? Don’t be shy. If you have a question, ask someone in a position to know the answer.

All of these steps can easily be applied to the local Santa Monica & Los Angeles housing market.


House-Hunting Tips

Eight House-Hunting Tips for a Positive Experience

1. Location Counts

You’ve probably heard the old real estate joke about “location, location, location,” but the point still bears repeating. Location is crucial. How far are you really willing to commute to your place of employment? How good are the local schools, shopping centers, public transportation, seniors services and other public amenities? Will your new home be next to a vacant lot or a commercial property? Even a picture-perfect dream home can be a mistake if it’s in an undesirable location, and a poor-location home can be a particularly bad choice if you anticipate reselling the home within a few years.

2. Make A List

Do you (and your spouse, if you’re married) really know what you need and want in your home? You’ll save yourself many hours of shopping (and potentially arguing) if you make a list ahead of time. Zero in on the features you must have, would like to have, definitely don’t want and would prefer not to have. Your goal is to find the right home for your family without falling in love with one that doesn’t suit your needs. Tip: Start compiling your wish list by thinking about what you like and dislike about your current home.

3. Do Your Homework

Not long ago, consumers had very little access to information about recent home sales prices, market trends, homes on the market, neighborhood statistics and the home-buying process. Today, all this information and more is available on the Web. Go surfing. Get educated. Become empowered.

4. Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage

Your top-dollar home price is a function of your household income, your creditworthiness, interest rates, the type of loan you select and how much ready cash you have for the down payment and closing costs, among other factors. Rather than guessing or estimating how much you can afford to spend, ask a lender or mortgage broker to give you a full assessment and a letter stating how much you’re qualified to borrow. The true amount may be much more or much less than you think.

5. Use A Checklist

Touring multiple homes is a confusing experience for most people. Rather than relying on memory, make notes about the homes you visit. Turn your priorities into a personalized home-shopping checklist and use it track the features of each home.

6. Wear Comfortable Clothing and Sturdy Shoes

House-hunting can be tiring, especially if you’re relocating to a distant community and want to see a dozen homes in one day. There’s no sense in torturing your feet unnecessarily.

7. Be Prepared To Make An Offer

House-hunting can also be frustrating, especially if you know in your heart you’re not really emotionally or financially ready to buy a home. If you’re not ready, don’t put yourself through the exercise. If you are ready, go through a blank purchase contract ahead of time so you’ll know what decisions you’ll face when you make an offer.

8. Relax

Granted, buying a home is a major life-altering event. But it’s not worth making yourself insanely crazy or super-duper stressed. Save time at the end of your house-hunting expedition to unwind, calm your thoughts and emotions and keep the whole experience in perspective.


6 Tips for Selling A Home in A Buyer’s Market

There’s no doubt that a buyer’s market can be challenging for sellers.  Yet it does not mean that sellers cannot enter the market – or that they cannot garner a fair price for their homes.  Home sales in a buyer’s market may take longer.  But a little creativity can go a long way toward help sellers move homes, without having to significantly drop the price.

1. Price Your Home According to the Current Market

Just because a house comparable to yours sold for a very high price last year does not mean you will be able to realize the same price when selling your home now. Work with a full-service real estate professional to determine the appropriate, competitive listing price for your home. Remember that in this market, your sales associate may encourage a list price in accordance with others currently on the market, rather than those previously sold.

2. Be Realistic About Appreciation

Since the housing market began to slow significantly in late 2007, home prices have fallen all over the country.  Yet understanding trends in your specific market is critical – as not all areas have experienced the same drops.  Some regions of the country have remained more steady relative to prices, and are even back to experiencing modest appreciations.  And if you bought your home many years ago, the gains you made in the decades before the downturn may still be far more than recent drops. So speak with your real estate professional to get a realistic view on how your home has gained or lost, relative to its value and potential price.

3. Make Your Home More Marketable

When a buyer sees your house for the first time, a critical first impression is made. If applicable, maximize curb appeal by trimming trees and planting flowers. A fresh exterior coat of paint might also prove valuable. Consider neutral colors for interior walls and carpets. Dark colors on walls, along with unnecessary clutter, make rooms look smaller.

4. Conduct a Full Home Inspection

If repairs are required, it is a good idea to go ahead and fix the problems. Potential buyers will cast an extremely critical eye over your home and, in a situation when more houses are available on the market, they may take a pass on a home that needs too many repairs. Be sure to have the home inspection report available for prospective buyers itemizing all of the repairs that have been made and the associated cost for each.

5. Offer a “Seller’s Contribution”

A seller can sweeten the deal by offering assistance to the buyer in ways that do not require lowering the asking price. These tactics can help your home to stand out from the crowd. For example:

  • Offer to buy down the interest rate on the buyer’s mortgage.
  • Offer to pay a portion of the closing costs.
  • Cover the buyer’s mortgage payments for up to the first six months. Depending upon the size of the mortgage, the buyer can save several thousand dollars and the seller still gets the original asking price for the home. It is generally more financially advantageous to do this than dropping the asking price by $30-, $20- or even just $10,000.
  • Many condos and houses across the country belong to homeowners’ associations that require annual dues. Paying the first year’s fees could be a big incentive to a buyer nearing the limit of his or her liquid assets.
  • Offer to pay off a buyer’s bills. According to Realty Times, some loan programs allow sellers to pay off the credit card debt or auto loans of the buyer which will help him or her qualify for a better mortgage and prevent the need to buy a smaller, less expensive house.

6. Don’t Worry

Properly priced homes that stand out from the competition are likely to sell.


Santa Monica Neighborhoods & Market Conditions

There are many different neighborhoods within the city of Santa Monica itself.  Each community has its own character and the market conditions also vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.  I’ll give you a thumbnail sketch of the different areas and the current markets, with a focus on condominiums and townhouses.In our current market we have about 141 total condos available for sale throughout Santa Monica.

The Sunset Park area of Santa Monica which covers the areas south of Pico Boulevard, North of Dewey, East of Lincoln Boulevard and West of Centinela consist of approximately 2709 single family homes. As of today, there are about 28 homes available in the price range of $895,000-$2.2 million and since the beginning of the year there have been 29 homes sold in the range of $610,000 to $2.2 million.  These neighborhood consist also of approx 739 condos and there are only 9 units available as of today on the market. They range in prices from a 1 bedroom at $395,000 to a 3 bedroom townhouse at $859,000. There have been 12 units sold since January 2009 with prices ranging from $445,000 – $825,000.

In the North of Wilshire Boulevard neighborhood, you might be able to get a 1 bedroom condo starting at $450,000 and a 2 bedroom with a start price of $650,000.

Ocean Avenue condos that are currently available range in prices from $700,000 – $6 million.

Condos in the Mid City area, which covers the area south of Wilshire to Colorado Ave on the south, and Centinlea Ave on the east, and Lincoln to the west,  total approximately 1500 condos.  A 1 bedroom can be had in the range of $400,000 and a 2 bedrooom starting at $450,000 to $1.3 million.

The Ocean Park area is anything west of Lincoln and South of Pico. This area covers the neighborhood all the way to the ocean. A small 2 bedroom that is on the market is available at $475,000 and can go all the way up to $2.8 million.

The numbers of available units and approximate prices will give you some idea of the current market for condominiums and townhouses in Santa Monica.  I hope this will help you in your pursuit of the perfect property.