Home Buying Tips to Remember

Whether you are thinking of buying a larger home, downsizing to a smaller home, condo or retirement/vacation home, or you are a first time home buyer, these helpful tips should help make your San Fernando Valley home buying experience a pleasant and smooth one.Work With a Real Estate AgentIt is important to work with a real estate agent who is experienced and knowledgeable about the area where you wish to buy. A Realtor can help you find your dream home, assist you with the negotiations, recommend a mortgage broker or lender to you to help get your financing and recommend home inspectors and other vendors to you during your contract contingency period to assist you with the home inspection and other due diligence.Choosing to work with a buyer’s agent is a good idea because you need someone who is looking out for your interests and not the seller’s. The listing agent works for the seller. While many buyers like to work with the listing agent because they think they will get a better deal on the house, the truth is your interests will be better protected if you use your own buyer’s agent.Pull a Copy of Your Credit ReportIt is a good idea to pull a copy of your credit report first to clean up any credit issues and make sure the information is correct if you are planning on obtaining financing. The higher credit score you have, the better interest rate you will qualify for. With low interest rates, it is smarter to obtain a fixed rate mortgage.Get Pre Approved or Pre-Qualified with a LenderIf you are obtaining financing, then before you even look at any properties, it is recommended that you speak with a mortgage broker or lender and get pre-qualified for a mortgage so you know what price range of home you can afford.Starting the loan process before you find a property is smart because it gives you two advantages when you make an offer. The first is that the seller knows you are qualified to close on the purchase of their San Fernando Valley real estate. The second is that it typically takes the lender about 45 days to complete the loan process. By starting ahead of time, you can shorten up your loan contingency period and the closing period, which will make the seller happy.Consider the Offering Price, Condition of the Home and the Home’s LocationBefore you make an offer on an Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys or North Hollywood property, you need to consider the following:o The offering price
o Recent comparable sales in the area
o Condition of the home
o Location of the homeYour Realtor can give you the information regarding comparable sales in the neighborhood to help you figure out the right price to offer for the San Fernando Valley home, condo or townhouse you are interested in purchasing.Make Sure You Negotiate a Refundable Earnest Money DepositIt is customary when making an offer on San Fernando Valley real estate to also include a refundable earnest money deposit with your offer. Typically, the earnest money check is made out to your real estate agent’s brokerage company, or the title or escrow company agreed upon by the parties. This is a good faith deposit that is applied towards the down payment of the home after your offer is accepted by the seller. Be sure that you or your San Fernando Valley Realtor negotiate that your earnest money deposit is refundable within the inspection period. Also, be sure to have enough funds in your bank account to cover the check. Usually, the check is delivered to the escrow or title company, and they pretty much cash the check within about 3 days after acceptance.If you default on the contract, then the seller is entitled to retain the earnest money deposit. Many times, the parties will negotiate the deposit is non-refundable after all contingencies have been removed, including the loan and appraisal contingency.Other Contract Contingencies To Include in the Purchase and Sale AgreementThis is where the expertise of your San Fernando Valley Realtor is invaluable to you. Negotiating contract contingencies to protect your interests is what your Realtor will be able to do for you. The following are contingencies that you should include in your offer:o Home inspection contingency.
o Financing and appraisal contingency if obtaining a mortgage.
o Contingent upon a third party approval. If you are purchasing a short sale, the contract must be contingent upon the lender’s approval.
o Review of homeowner or condo association documentation, budgets, by-laws and other governing and financial documentation.Statutory DisclosuresThe seller and/or their agent are required to deliver to the buyer statutory disclosures regarding the property that would materially affect the buyer’s decision to purchase the property. This is usually done during the escrow period, and the buyer has the option of asking for more information or cancelling the contract if there is something that concerns them about the information.Title Insurance, Escrow and ClosingLenders require that you obtain title insurance naming them as an insured on the policy. If you are paying cash, it is still recommended that you obtain title insurance to make sure that the title is free and clear and can be transferred to you without any clouds on the title. It is customary for the buyer and seller to split the escrow costs 50/50, and for the seller to pay for the owner’s title insurance costs, and the buyer to pay for the lender’s policy.The escrow company acts as a neutral third party that holds the earnest money, transfers paperwork back and forth between the parties, the lender and the title company and makes sure the proper closing documents are signed by the respective parties.Closings are usually 30 to 60 days from the contract acceptance. It is negotiable between the parties. Once the deed of trust is recorded with the county recorder’s office and confirmation of the recording is received on the day of the closing, the keys are then delivered to the buyer. The seller gets their money, and the escrow company sends the seller’s lender the money to pay off the existing mortgage, if there is one. The escrow company will also issue and deliver the commission checks to the real estate brokerage companies. The buyer can now move into their new San Fernando Valley home, condo or townhome.

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