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How To Buy A House In California

Updated on October 26, 2015
Buying a house is time consuming.
Buying a house is time consuming. | Source

Buying A Home Requires Homework

Buying a house is an exciting and daunting task. Most people buy one or two houses in a lifetime, so finding just the right house is important. If you are not in the market to buy, but are looking down the road to a purchase, now is the time to start doing your homework. Determining the right location now will help later. Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining the right location for you and your family.

  • What area fits your life style? Are you City, Country, or a Condo kind of person? Is it important to be near public transportation?
  • Is the property in a good safe location? If you are new to a neighborhood looking at the local neighborhood watch report can give you good information.This can be obtained through the local police department. If living in an urban area suits your life style knowing the area will equip you with information to protect yourself.
  • The inner city frequently has amazing deals. That saying, renovating an inner city house isn't for everyone. Know your tolerance for risk. Many years ago a friend's aunt purchased a home in Georgetown. The area was very poor, she wanted housing she could afford near to her office in Washington D.C. She made friends with the neighbors and was accepted into the neighborhood. Today the tiny three story walk-up is in a very fashionable area.
  • You need to stalk a neighborhood to see what it's like at all times of the day and night. This especially important when buying in an unfamiliar area. Years ago looking for an apartment in a new city I drove around one afternoon. I found an apartment complex that looked nice. It had a nice pool and was nicely landscaped. I liked the manager of the complex and the apartment. The location was perfect, it was close to the University. The first night we spent in the apartment one of the neighbors threw a fish tank through a plate glass window. The night we left a year later the sheriff was chasing one of the neighbors around the complex.
  • Are schools Important? Look at the scores for the schools in the area. Realtors frequently can give you information about school.

Speaking of Realtors do you know one? Finding a good realtor is vital. You need a realtor that will work for you.

Real Estate Agents

A real estate agent is someone who helps you find the right home, in the right price range and right location for your needs. Real Estate agents vary significantly; some agents are only agents who have a broker who directs them. Some agents are also brokers. Many agents are specialist in particular areas. Realtors have access to M.L.S. (multiple listing service) which will tell what houses are available. It is your Realtor who will make arrangements for touring the property. A good agent will be able to point out potential problems with properties before the inspectors look at it. They also know the laws and how to negotiate mounds of paperwork necessary for buying a home. Knowing your agent, their integrity and their work ethic is important. Are they quality certified? Good qualifications for Realtor include memberships in local, state and national Association of Realtors. Does a particular agent have good reviews? The amount of paperwork involved in buying a house is enormous. Therefore, it is vital that you can work and communicate well with the agent of your choice. Looking for the perfect house you will spend a great deal of time with your agent either in the car or on the phone. It is important you and your agent are compatible. Word of mouth is a good way to find a real estate agent.

It is not uncommon for a real estate agent to become lifelong friend.

Loan Officer

Your loan officer is the next important part of purchasing a house. Your loan officer will determine how much the bank will lend you and provides letters of qualification to submit with an offer on a house. Loan officers who are efficient, will contact you throughout each step in the loan process to make sure your information is accurate, and that you understand what is happening. Finally when the closing date comes around the loan officer will make sure all the docs (aka paperwork) are ready to be signed at the agreed upon time. A good loan officer will let you know exactly where you stand in the loan process at all times. The process of finding a loan officer is frequently aided by your realtor. You are also free to use your own bank loan officer.

Banks have always required significant amounts of information before they lend you money. Since the housing bubble of 2008 burst the number of people who receive your information has mushroomed. The explanation is always,"This is for your protection". You need a trustworthy agent. At one time or another they will have access to your most intimate financial information. A motivated agent will get results without pressuring you. You may even consider enrolling in an identity protection company like Life Lock before you purchase a home.

*I recently discovered the Affordable Healthcare Act is the reason for additional paperwork. Now your businesses transactions link to your health record, Also, if you are in a certain tax rate as of January 1, 2013 you will be required to pay a 3.8% healthcare tax on the sale of a house. If you don't have much equity there is a possibility all your profit will go into healthcare tax. Be sure to check with your Realtor and or banker before selling.


"Eureka", is the California state motto and it means," I found it", referring to gold. This saying certainly applies to finding the right house. When you know you have found the right location, size, and price then you make an offer to the seller. Your offer may or may not be accepted. There are almost as many reasons for not having your offer accepted as there are houses. Buying a house is like riding a roller coaster. When you find "the" house you are riding high. When you have to sign the first paperwork you are discouraged by the sheer volume of fine print papers to sign. When your offer is accepted you are on an upward swing. More paperwork and down you go.

Inspections will reveal broken sprinkler heads as well as termites and worn out roofs
Inspections will reveal broken sprinkler heads as well as termites and worn out roofs


Your real estate agent will call for inspections.The inspections are like the riding a roller coaster. You go slowly up, click, click, click, then a pause just before the plummet as you find out what the inspector thinks about your castle. Hang in there, the suspense doesn't last forever. Not all news is discouraging and a good Realtor will help you through the entire process,

There will be a pest inspector and a general inspector. Both inspectors will poke and prod the house and each will then write a detailed report. The pest inspector is looking for the obvious: termites and other vermin. The general inspector will go through the entire house and determine if everything mechanical is functioning. They will turn on all the appliances, run the dishwasher, heater, air conditioner, bathroom fans, The inspector will physically test every spigot, flush every toilet, check every outlet in the house. They will crawl under the house to see if the foundation is structurally sound, crawl through the attic to see if the roof is leaking as well as go onto the roof. They will fill the bathtub with water and wait to see if it leaks. These guys are amazing. With the help of digital cameras and computers even complicated reports can be emailed within hours.

Charges For Buying A House.

It is common knowledge that a down payment is needed. There are other charges that will be upsetting if you are unaware of them. There will be appraisal and inspection fees that may be to your advantage to pay outright instead of rolling them into the closing costs. The closing costs are the fees that include, but are not limited to loan application, document preparation, points, appraisal fees, title service costs, prepaid property taxes, title insurance, and the list goes on and on. The closing costs blindside many first time buyers. Even if you have a no down payment, such as in a VA loan, you still have to have cash for the closing fees. They can vary significantly according the sales price of the home. Who pays closing costs may vary depending on what the inspectors say about the condition of the property. In a conventional sale the home seller may opt to pay the closing fees for a variety of reasons which are too broad for this article.

Buyer Remorse

Expect Buyers remorse. You have just spent lots of money, your budget seems like it has just gotten tighter and there are all sorts of things you want to buy for the new home. Take heart! Very likely you really haven't overextended yourself. You might think ,"What if I can't pay the mortgage"? All those other people have lost their homes, why won't that happen to me?

Here is why you need not have buyers remorse, have did your homework. you had a solid twenty percent down-payment, and cash for closing costs, your well qualified agent made sure the inspectors were thorough and negotiated on your behalf. Last but not lest, to assure no surprises you bought a home buyers protection plan to cover any broken appliances, heating or electrical systems etc. you might have the first year in your new home.

Enjoy your new home !


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      What a good idea. In the days before Google I rented an apartment. Found a nice apartment the first night we stayed there someone threw a TV through an upstairs window. The last night the sheriff was chasing a suspect around the complex. It was a block from a really good restaurant. We were there for about 10 months.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      These are some very good tips. I recommend using SpotCrime website to get a look and some details of problems in various areas that have been reported to police. Just type in an address, cross streets, or zip codes, and you may find out enough to send you running to another area. I drove through an apartment complex at various times of day and night but never saw any problems until immediately after I moved in. These problems included a group of several men who preferred loitering and smoking marijuana right outside my apartment door, very loud music, and police that really did nothing. I got out of that pit in about two months WITH my security deposit to boot!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Golden Field- Welcome! Thanks for visiting I will be honored.

      smartincome- Nice to meet you.

    • smartincome profile image

      Lor M 6 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub, tirelesstraveler! I will remember your advice especially those questions you mentioned. :) Thanks!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Pamela N Red, So true. Thanks for stopping.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Not everyone realizes the importance of finding a home in a good school district even if they don't have children or never plan to have them. A good school district makes an impact on the value of a home. Great article.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Carilyn, Bless you for reading this hub. I have been looking all over for you. Last night I was editing my Tribute to my Fabulous First Hundred Followers and noticed I had mentioned you w/o linking to your profile.

    • carolyn a. ridge profile image

      carolyn a. ridge 6 years ago

      California homes are beautiful; but usually, you can place 2 homes on the same lot, as one home, here in Texas. This is a great hub; I especially like the section on "Web" Great hub - keep up the good work!!

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Voted up. Helpful article.

    • DougBerry profile image

      DougBerry 6 years ago from Abilene, TX

      Well, I can't say I know anything about finding a good Realtor, but I've got experience with bad ones. I thought it was a little funny--I just wrote a Hub on how to choose a bad realtor and then the next Hub I looked at was yours on buying a house. Which I hope to never have to do again.

      And your apartment...well one of the ones we lived in had a baby found in the dumpster not long after we left. Same thing: it LOOKED nice; it was hell.


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