Whether you’re entering the market as a first-time homebuyer or looking to upgrade to your forever home, it’s important to be prepared for the house hunting process. Years of experience matching people with their dream homes have taught us a thing or two about how you can prepare yourself for the experience of looking for a new home. Here are some of our top tips from Joyce Rey (Coldwell Banker Global Luxury):
Get Your Priorities Straight
Understanding what matters most to you should be your first consideration. Everyone has different priorities when it comes to size, layout, location, style, and beyond. When you know your priorities, you can quickly eliminate homes that are obviously not a good fit.
An obvious priority is finding homes that are within your budget. Southern California home prices vary from neighborhood-to-neighborhood, and knowing what you can afford is the first way to narrow your search area. While there are certainly exceptions, if the median home price of a neighborhood is well out of your price range you should avoid focusing your search on that area.
It’s also important to identify what features matter most to you in a new home. How important are things like a swimming pool, a big garage, outdoor dining areas, or a large backyard? Do you need a residence with a guesthouse, a pool house, or a gym? Make a list of priority features so you can customize your search and save time.
Check the Map
Location is important in every city in America, but in Los Angeles it’s magnified. In a city that’s famous for its endless freeways, keeping your commute distance to a minimum might be one of the most important factors in your house hunt. Last year, the city once again ranked as the most congested in the country, as Angelenos spent more time stuck in traffic than anywhere else in the United States. The one way to solve this problem has become yet another cliché of Los Angeles: live where you work.
Finding a manageable commute in an area you can afford that also fits your priorities is easier said than done. It’s important to ask yourself a few questions:
Do you prefer an urban environment with walkable neighborhoods and ample public transit or a suburban landscape with lots of yard space and parking?
Are you looking for a neighborhood with amenities for children or a place that caters towards an active nightlife?
Do you favor privacy and seclusion over proximity to amenities?
A crucial factor for those with children is the quality of the local school district. Los Angeles County is a patchwork of school districts and teach is different – even schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District perform at very different levels. Meanwhile, smaller cities like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica have their own school districts and are considered to be among the best in the region. Another option for parents is to identify neighborhoods with strong private schools and forgo g public schools in your desired neighborhood entirely.
Don’t Wait To Get Professional Advice
Some house hunters may be reluctant to work with a real estate professional, especially early in the search. However, confiding in a trusted realtor can expedite the home buying process and ease the pressure you face. Their experience helping buyers find houses and turn them into homes is an invaluable resource.
There are a few steps you can take to help you find a trustworthy real estate professional. First, be aware of the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor. Realtors are certified by National Association of Realtors (NAR) after taking an oath to abide by the organization’s ethical code. Meet with several realtors and ask about their strategy for finding you a new home. The way a realtor responds to the request – whether with a vague answer, a detailed and strategic answer, or a delayed answer, could be a preview of their future performance.
Prevent House Hunting Burnout
Remember, house hunting should be a balance between a sprint and a marathon. While a sense of urgency is important, don’t exhaust all your enthusiasm so early in the housing search that you lose energy and experience burnout. Temper your expectations and understand that finding the right home can sometimes be a longer journey with many twists and turns.
When you have prepared for the house hunt by identifying your priorities, knowing which neighborhoods are right for you, and working with a trusted real estate professional, you will be well-positioned for a smooth search. These factors working together help ensure you avoid the burnout of a long house hunting process.