1 Buying a Home To Live In

I will help you find a home of good value with no surprises.

a)  Get pre-qualified with the lender of your choice, with their underwriting department.
b)  Pick a City and a Neighborhood  You are not only buying a house or condo, you're buying into the neighborhood with all its benefits and flaws.  Visit places you will frequent such as the local school, park, BART station, gym, cafes, or whatever is important to you.  Check out your potential new neighbors by knocking on their door and introducing yourself.  Ask questions of the neighborhood.   If you plan on commuting, check out your commute time by taking the drive or transit when you normally would.  Don't forget to look at crime statistics.  Visit the neighborhood on Friday and Saturday night.  Ghosts and riff-raff, if any, come out at night.
c) Search homes for sale   The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the most up to date data source when looking for available homes for sale. You can access this through my website.  Other websites on the internet such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and others show homes for sale.  As you see ones you like, we can view them in person or together if you wish.  Sometimes appointments are necessary but mostly these homes are accessible with my lockbox key.  Visit and look at no less than 10 homes in the same price range.  The more homes you see the better a judge of value you will be.  Never rush to pick a home.
d)  Consider things you can change in the home if you find a near perfect home at a location you like but the home is not up to your standards.
Renovating kitchens typically cost from 5% to 10% of the cost of the home (+/-) depending on how elaborate.  Bathrooms often cost $5,000 and up for a complete remodel and $15,000 and up to add a bathroom if there is room.   Painting a home can range from $2,000 to $4,000 for a single story home.  Ornate homes such as Victorians cost substantially more especially for top quality multi-color painting.  The prices I suggested are ballpark prices based on my experience.  I strongly recommend getting actual bids from reputable licensed contractors if the interest arises.  If you like mature landscaping you may want to buy a home that already has it because shrubs can take 5+ years from planting to mature and trees can take from 15 to over 50 years to mature.
e)  Consider how long you will be living in the home and your future needs.   Statistics say people typically live in the first home they purchase for 10-12 years, the second home they purchase for 20-30 years and then the home they will live their retirement years in.  If it’s your first home buy a little extra.  Buy a home you will grow in to, not one you will grow out of.  If it’s the home for your retirement years, be sure your knees and sense of balance will be happy in years to come.

f)  How much should you pay for the home?  This is mostly governed by market conditions and competition from other buyers.  Always look at numerous other homes in the same neighborhood and in the same price range for fair comparisons.  How much the home sells for is not based on the asking price, but how much similar homes in the same neighborhood recently sold for and how well the home is presented.  Your first priority should be the home that best suits your needs and wishes and your second priority the price.  From my experience as both a home owner and real estate broker, in years to come, there will be many reasons the home you purchased and lived in will have been good or bad for you but seldom will the last $5,000 or $10,000 you paid or saved be one of those reasons.

g)  Have the home inspected prior to removing contingencies.  Typical California home purchasing contracts will have grace periods to inspect the home and arrange financing prior to full commitment to purchasing the home.  California Association of Realtors home purchasing contracts have this unless waived.

I recommend the following 3 inspections at a minimum and often more.  All three inspections combined typically cost $500 to $900 depending on the home's size and location.

General home inspection:  This overly looks at plumbing, electrical, HVAC, noticeably worn, broken or improper items needing repair or replacement.  Cost of repairs are not given, and must be obtained from independent bids. Although this inspection doesn't inspect every inch of the home, it is typically pretty thorough and does provide an excellent overall professional view and opinion of the general condition of the home.

Pest inspection: This inspection identifies damage caused by water or moisture such as dry rot, mold, mildew, moss, fungus and so on, and critters such as termites, boring beetles, bees, mice, rats, bats and so on.  Cost of repairs and/or extermination are given.

Roof inspection:  This identifies needed roof repairs and estimates, also often estimates the remaining usable life of the roof.  Cost of any needed repairs are usually given.

Other inspections and reports available:  Sometimes additional target specific inspections and reports are warranted by law, observations or prudence.  Some examples are: environmental hazard reports, flood reports, CLUE reports (insurance claims), testing for lead base paint, asbestos, specific types of mold, radon gas, soil movement or soundness, foundation soundness, chimney soundness, tree disease and other inspections.

What to expect from inspections:  Inspectors typically find various things needing repair in a home.  It’s their job.  It is your opinion and decision if the needed repairs are too scary or costly to proceed with the purchase.  If needed repairs are too extensive and obvious, most banks won’t loan on the property.

Other odd but significant things to consider: Has the home had a water damage insurance claim filed or paid against it in the last 5 years?  Is the home in a known flood or earthquake zone?  Has their been a death in the home in the past 3 years?  Has the home ever been associated with a methamphetamine lab or any other illegal drug activity?  Does the number of bedrooms and baths and square footage of the home match the tax records?  Not matching can mean un-permitted room additions.

Conclusion: The more homes you look at the more knowledgeable you will have with regards to price, value, style and condition of available homes in your price range.  If you are blessed with the luxury, let your loved ones voice an opinion.  Always get the home inspected.  I promise will help you find a home of good value with little to no surprises.  I will help you with all of this and more.  Simply ask.

20 Years Experience and Counting
A+ BBB 13 Years and Counting
Questions? Call me 707 332-8301

or e-mail me Alex@NEWSTANDARDREALTY.com

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