The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide To Buying a House in California

Real Estate Agent

It might be stressful if you're thinking of relocating to California or purchasing a home here for the first time. You may be unsure where to begin, how much money to set aside, or what areas to investigate. Hence, we prepared this brief guide for you in the hope to make your buying journey more convenient.

Assess your financial situation

Making the transition from a renter to a homeowner requires a thorough examination of your finances, therefore, the first step in purchasing a property is to analyze the prices involved and to assess your present financial situation. The following is a summary of the expenses of purchasing a home in California.


A down payment serves as the cornerstone of your home expenditures. You pay a portion of the house's closing price to your lender. The average down payment in California is 5.3%, although it may range from 3.5 percent to 20 percent. The average house value in California in March 2020 was about $587,000. As a result, you should budget at least $20,000 for a down payment.


Lender fees, title fees, and prepayment expenditures for items like property taxes and house insurance are all included in closing costs. While the amount varies by region, your closing costs will be 3% of the home's ultimate closing price, which may amount to about $17,000 on average.


Before you close on a property, you should schedule a home inspection. Before you close on the home, this inspection checks for concerns like lead, asbestos, and termites. These inspections cost about $350 in California, although the fee rises with the size of the property.


Calculate your property taxes. In California, you must pay property taxes if you own a house. The effective property tax rate is 0.81 percent of the home's value on average. Property taxes are paid in two installments throughout the year.


If anything goes wrong with your house, you can't contact the building owner or property management to come to fix it—you're the homeowner now, and you're responsible for everything make finances, therefore, enough money set up for emergency repairs before you purchase a property according to experts, these funds should be allocated between 1-4 percent of the house's worts.

Do your homework and pick a trusted real estate agent

Throughout the home-buying process, a skilled real estate agent will be your biggest champion and ally. They work with you to figure out what sort of house you want and then scan the market for the greatest deals within your price range.


The greatest California real estate agents demonstrate that they care as much as you do about finding a home you love.


If you're concerned about the expense of a real estate agent, there's good news: your agent's commission costs are generally paid by the house sellers. You’re effectively receiving a real estate agent's time, attention, and expertise for nothing.


But it all begins with selecting an agent with whom you like working. Here are some suggestions for locating a home-buying partner:


Review sites for real estate agents - Just as you would use Yelp or Google reviews to locate a decent restaurant, review sites for real estate agents may help you identify friendly and trustworthy agents.


Pose thoughtful inquiries – Schedule brief introduction phone conversations with each agent after you've compiled a list. Prepare some questions regarding the agent's credentials and know what you're looking for in an agent ahead of time. Remember to ask questions like the following to learn about agent’s preferred method of communication and availability, familiarity with the area, and the length of the process.


Tip for first-time homebuyers: Approach your agent search as if you were interviewing applicants for a job. You are not compelled to contract with the first agent you speak with, however. In that case, suppose toSo you’re successful, the agent-buyer relationship needs a high level of trust and communication. After that initial phone contact, if you don't feel heard or understood by an agent, thank them for their time and start searching for someone else. You'll be saving both their and your time.


It's time to learn about the California home market after you've selected an agent. While your agent is an invaluable asset, it's always a good idea to have a basic awareness of property market trends so you can make well-informed judgments. Keep an eye on what's going on with property prices in your preferred locations and plan ahead while looking for a home.


Get a mortgage pre-approval

Let's imagine your agent contacts you out of the blue and tells you they've discovered your dream property, but there are competing bids. You'll be able to act fast to obtain your ideal house if you've been pre-approved for a mortgage. You risk missing out on a location you adore if you aren't. Take the required procedures to obtain pre-approved mortgage approval as soon as you sign a real estate agent.


To get you started, take a look at this simple pre-approval checklist for purchasing a property in California:


High credit score — Lenders want to see that you've paid your bills on time in the past. So they’ll know you're a responsible borrower if you have a good credit score. For example, a credit score of at least 620 is required for a mortgage application, while some lenders want at least 640.


Consistent income — If you have a mortgage, you must pay the lender in monthly payments. Lenders want to see that you have a constant stream of income so that you can pay your bills on time and in full. They check your work history to know whether you've been with the same employer for at least two years. You may present evidence of income for the previous several years if you're self-employed.


A sufficient amount of money for a down payment - Saving enough money for a down payment not only demonstrates that you have a consistent income but also demonstrates that you are a responsible candidate who can fulfill long-term financial objectives.


Remember to check whether you qualify for a USDA rural home loan or a VA loan when purchasing a house. This might relieve a significant financial burden off your budget and allow you to consider alternative home possibilities.

Locate your new residence

The most fun element of the home-buying process might be house searching. Touring various houses, exploring new communities, and imagining the incredible potential each property has to offer for your future. It may, however, seem a lot like work at times. You do, however, have a variety of tools at your disposal to make your home search pleasurable and straightforward.


Here are a few pointers to help you locate your new California home:

Online tools for selling a house

More and more sellers are embracing internet tools to promote their property in the digital era. To understand the market, look at a few home-buying websites, such as Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties. You may look for residences at various times throughout the day, such as in the waiting room of a doctor's office, during your train journey, or even during your lunch break. Spend a little time browsing every day, and you'll have more chances to purchase.

Your neighborhood

Make your local friends and relatives aware that you're seeking to purchase a home. If a friend learns that a home in your dream area will go on the market, word of mouth might be your greatest ally.

Walk down the streets.

Take field visits to your favorite communities in your spare time. Get to know the neighborhood, try different coffee shops, and you could even come upon an open house you weren't aware of. Check out our list of the finest locations to live in Southern California if you're looking for a nice spot to call home in the Golden State.

Make use of your agency.

Everyday living may often get in the way of home seeking. That's why your real estate agent is the most exemplary person to help you locate your dream house. They are well-versed in the home-buyer and home-seller networks and can keep an ear to the ground for properties you may be interested in seeing. Furthermore, every Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties agent may set you up with your personalized listing alerts and dashboard, allowing you to analyze quickly, compare, and offer comments on new properties.

Make a proposal

You enter through the property’s entryway that checks all of your boxes and immediately know it's the one following a tour. So if you fall in love with a house, put off the honeymoon till later and go ahead and buy it.

As soon as you decide to purchase a property, you must inquire about any existing bids on the property. You'll be in a bidding battle if there are any. So first, work with your agent to make an offer within your budget, but it still puts you in the race. Then, make a third-party deposit for your down payment (typically an escrow agent).


Prepare an offer letter. It should contain the location of the house you're buying, how much you're prepared to pay for it, how you plan to finance the purchase, how long your offer is valid for, any mandatory state restrictions (depending on the property), and any contingencies that would invalidate the bid. If all goes well, your real estate agent will contact you with great excitement.


Send a handwritten note to the homeowners if you're in a bidding battle for a house you truly want. Talk about what you like about the home and the community, as well as how you see yourself living there in the future. Even if you don't have the best price, a thoughtful touch may occasionally tilt the scales in your favor.

Inspection and negotiating of the house

Schedule a home inspection before you receive the keys to your new home. Some lenders demand a house inspection before approving a loan, but it's always a good idea.


A home inspection looks for elements in the house that might be unsafe, such as lead, asbestos, and fundamental deterioration. Home inspections guarantee that you're buying a safe place. Remember to show up for the appointment so you may ask questions and see what the inspector discovers firsthand.


It might be a gift in disguise if anything unexpected comes up during the house inspection. Why? It can restart discussions. You may either request that the seller make the required repairs before closing or that the seller lower their asking price. Your agent, once again, is your finest weapon for making the most of the circumstance.


When your offer is approved, don't forget to complete your due diligence to ensure that your part of the transaction is sealed. You'll only have a certain amount of time to complete your financing and get the house examined. It takes around three weeks to get a mortgage. Then, it takes roughly two hours for the home inspection.

Complete the purchase of your new house.

The inspection is complete, the offer has been accepted, and just a few steps remain before you can move into your new home:

Appraise the property

Engage the services of a home appraiser to determine the property's value. While it isn't needed, it is a wise decision for your long-term financial well-being. You'll have a benchmark to compare the home to if you decide to sell it later.

Carry out a last walkthrough

Before you take possession of the home, do one last walk around it to make sure everything is in working order. It's also an opportunity for you to double-check that no new concerns with the house have surfaced after the home inspection.

Sign the paperwork

Meet with the seller, lender, title company representative, and real estate agents to sign the final papers.

Pay the final fee

Make a payment to your lender for the home's closing costs.


Congratulations! Now it is time to start planing moving-in into your new home!

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