The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.  Vince Lombardi

 

Growth in Real Estate Values in the United States and California 
1940s 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 2000-7 Average
United States 250% 162% 143% 278% 168% 151% 185% 191%
California 271% 158% 154% 366% 231% 8% 283% 210%

It goes without saying that the result of this process is the American dream of home ownership.  For Californians it’s more difficult than residents of… let’s say Wisconsin.  The short supply of housing and the high prices create an affordability of roughly 25%; in other words, only 25% of all California households can afford to purchase the median-priced home in this state.

Don’t let that disuade you.  If you would like to own a house or condo, the very first step is to speak to a mortgage broker; you may be pleasantly surprised by today’s financing and your consequent purchasing ability.  The first article to read is How to Save for Your First Home from The Wall Street Journal.  Another is an enlightening and humorous New York Times article that pokes a little fun while putting a mirror in front of you entitled Fear of Committing?  Both are found at the bottom of this page.

1

Apply  for financing with a mortgage broker or lender.  This paramount aspect of the process allows potential buyers to integrate these numbers (financing, taxes, deductions, home owners’ dues / projected maintenance, etcetera) into their monthly budget.  Only the individual can make these decisions, as they are very personal.  Speaking to a money manager or accountant will assuage many of these concerns.

2

Interview  realtors in the area where you would like to purchase your home.  I wouldn’t suggest sitting down with 8 of them, but 2-4 in person from a larger pool online should do the trick.  (See the bottom of this page for more on this topic.)  While experience is a significant factor, feeling comfortable and confident in your realtor is also important.

3

Decide  on a realtor and the parameters of your search.  What aspects are most important: houses, condos, yards, patios, neighborhoods, kitchens, schools…?

4

Formulate  a plan to see as many properties within these parameters as possible.  Weekends are most common, but private showings during the week are typical as well.  Think of it as a part-time job; you will only feel comfortable moving forward once you have seen several properties, sometimes dozens.  It could take a week or three months of looking.

5

Submit  an offer on a property.  Besides the noteworthy aspect of having an experienced realtor researching the sales in the area and negotiating the terms of the contract for you, this facet generally includes the following: 1) a purchase contract, 2) a preapproval letter for financing from your mortgage broker or lender, 3) a deposit check in the amount of 3% of the purchase price, 4) other real estate disclosures – usually boiler-plate, but sometimes unique to the brokerage firm or area.

6

Escrow Period  – These are typically 30 days.  During this time all contingencies are met, and the due diligence of the buyers is completed with the guidance of the realtor, a team of inspectors, and an appraiser.

7

Possession  – Handing the keys to a new home owner is the best part of this job – especially a first-time buyer.  Well, a close second might be getting an invitation to their house-warming party weeks or several months later.  We have even been invited to clients’ weddings and / or receptions.  That is a real treat and quite a compliment.
Anyway, it’s as simple as that.  That’s not to say it’s easy, otherwise everyone would own a home or several properties.  When your credit is on the line (not to mention hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars or more) it can be more than a little disconcerting.  However, taken one step at a time, and with the right guidance, it can be relatively simple and painless, not to mention infinitely rewarding.

There are thousands of realtors in the Los Angeles area.  What makes any one of them stand apart?  A few things immediately come to mind, but I am a little subjective.  However, when you meet with someone who clicks with you and your family – someone you can trust – that makes all the difference.  Experience is another aspect, as the more an agent works, the better the chances that he or she has built positive relationships with their colleagues, as well as a reputation for themself within the community.

I decided to become a realtor because I wanted a better life (and home) for my family.  On two teachers’ salaries that tiny, 931 square foot, two-bedroom house we called home was all that we could afford.  A forward thinker to a fault, I knew that with children somewhere on the horizon more space was needed.

Secondly, I have always been amazed by houses.  My father is in construction, and I was able to see a number of homes in different neighborhoods throughout Green Bay during my childhood – how people improved upon them and made them their own.  I especially appreciate Mediterranean and Spanish architecture – hello, California.  That interest and the parallels between teaching in a classroom and guiding people through this process make this field, while challenging, constantly rewarding.

I look forward to helping you achieve all of your real estate goals.