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A step-by-step guide to buying a house in Southern California

Teri Pacitto - Westlake Village Realtor

A lot of excitement comes with buying a house, especially in an exceptional location such as Southern California. But with the thrill of anticipation also comes a fair share of uncertainty and occasional frustration. Stay on track as you navigate the homebuying process by following this guide.

Step 1: Assess your current financial capacity

Smart homebuyers set their expectations early. Instead of diving straight into listings pages to fantasize about the most lavish homes for sale currently available, check your financial situation:

  • Is your credit score good enough to secure a sizable home loan with favorable payment terms?
  • How much can you actually take out on a home loan?
  • Do you have enough savings to cover your down payment and closing costs?

Step 2: Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan

A mortgage pre-approval is an essential early step for serious homebuyers. Through this process, your lender will give you an approximate amount that will help you narrow down your options to listings that you can realistically afford.

In addition, your lender’s pre-approval letter is an official document that can convince a home seller of your capacity to pay for their property.

Step 3: Find the right real estate agent to work with

Partnering with an experienced, knowledgeable, and well-connected professional will significantly improve your experience throughout the homebuying process.

A savvy local real estate agent can point you toward the right neighborhood to suit your needs and lifestyle preferences. They will highlight the best opportunities available in the market, as well as provide you with the means to view and evaluate each option—whether you prefer an in-person visit or a virtual home tour.

A local expert can also advise you about the best time to buy a house in Southern California based on their records, as well as first-hand experience with the market’s peak selling activity.

Step 4: Start exploring and evaluating your options

Scrutinize and compare listings in your preferred location based on your essential needs and “nice-to-haves” in a home. In general terms, house-hunting is most effective when you can visit the property and the surrounding neighborhood in person. But if you are wary about doing so in the midst of a pandemic, seek assistance from your agent for options, such as virtual home viewings.

Step 5: Make a strong offer

With guidance from your agent, create compelling offer packages that will catch the attention and interest of the property seller. Keep in mind that the best offers are not necessarily the ones with the biggest money. You can also appeal to the seller by offering strategic concessions that can make the transaction move faster and with greater convenience.

Step 6: Negotiate with the seller

If the owner accepts your offer, be prepared to negotiate the finer details of the deal, including the most mutually agreeable final sale price. It’s important to communicate your priorities and goals with your agent at this stage because they will represent you at the negotiation table through this contentious stage of the homebuying process.

Step 7: Complete inspections and other contingencies

Upon reaching an agreement, you can enter escrow with the seller. At this stage, various forms of due diligence must be completed within an agreed-upon timeline—from getting a professional inspection and appraisal done, to securing your home loan from your lender, buying homeowner’s insurance, setting up your utility subscriptions, and everything in between.

Step 8: Close the deal

When all contingencies have been satisfied, schedule a final walkthrough with the seller and get ready to sign all the paperwork required to complete the transaction.

To discover the finest houses for sale in Southern California’s most desirable communities, turn to the experts at The Pacitto Group. Call me, Teri Pacitto, today at 805.494.4663 or email teri(dotted)pacitto(at)gmail(dotted)com to get your homebuying journey started off on the right foot.

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Teri Pacitto
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