There may be no better place to call home than Southern California. The never-ending sunshine, the wide range of outdoor activities, the amenities and services and the wonderful lifestyle all make this part of the United States a great place to live.
If the weather and activities appeal to you then you’ll want to find the perfect location. There are many choices and each town or city offers something unique; However, one small city stands out among all the rest –Brea. Brea is a unique place to live as it offers the amenities and services of a large city but maintains that small town charm.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you search for your Brea dream home.
Know the Neighborhood
The neighborhoods in Brea are diverse, close to excellent public schools and safe. Your particular needs and wants will dictate which one is the right choice for you. Make sure to look at a wide range of homes in a few different neighborhoods to get a good idea of what types of homes are available in the Brea real estate market. Remember, when it comes to buying a home it is always better to buy the most rundown home in a nice neighborhood rather than the nicest home in a rundown neighborhood.
Here is where the knowledge of a real estate agent will come into play.
Don’t Be Too Picky
When it comes to finding your dream home in Brea, it is important not to get stuck on small details- in other words, don’t get too picky. Remember, paint colors can always be changed, wallpaper can be removed, and yards can be landscaped. If the price is right, rooms can even be remodeled and renovated. Instead, focus your search on some of the more important factors that will give you your perfect home.
Factors to consider might be:
- Proximity to public schools.
- Commute time to and from work.
- Neighborhood feel.
Know What You Can Spend
When you are looking for that perfect home, make sure to set a budget. Prices can quickly escalate and get out of control when it comes to real estate. It is important to have a budget and to try to stay within those numbers. Remember, there will be additional costs that arise, so do try to keep the overall price of your home in mind.
Brea – a Great Decision!
Finding and buying your perfect home is always an exciting time and choosing Brea as your destination will definitely add to the overall satisfaction of being a homeowner. You will love the welcoming community, the excellent public schools, and the public art that adds another dimension to the ambience of the city.
I am a local real estate agent who specializes in the Brea real estate market. I have intimate knowledge of the community and its many neighborhoods and would love to help you find your perfect Brea home.
Before you get started looking for your Brea dream home, it would be useful to familiarize yourself with some of the most common real estate terms that you will encounter along your journey. Be prepared and knowledgeable by checking out the following:
REAL ESTATE TERMS
Key Lending Terms
- Down Payment – The portion of a property’s purchase price that a buyer must pay. The down payment is not part of the mortgage.
- Mortgage Broker – A lender who works on behalf of the buyer to secure a mortgage loan through a bank or other lending institutions.
- Mortgage – The type of loan that is used to secure payment of a property. A mortgage is usually paid off over a specific period through monthly payments.
- Interest Rate – The cost attached to borrowing money. The interest rate of a mortgage is set by the lender and is either fixed for a specified time period or it can float.
- Pre-Approval – The amount of money (mortgage amount) the buyer is approved for. The amount is based upon factors such as credit score, assets and the borrower’s income.
- Principal – The outstanding balance of a mortgage. As payments are made, the mortgage’s principal is reduced.
- Equity – The percentage of the home’s value that is owned by the owner. The lender (bank) owns the rest.
Key Home Buying Terms
- Listing Price – The price of the home set by the seller.
- Days on Market (DOM) – The number of days a home has been listed on the market.
- Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – A database used by real estate agents that list properties for sale.
- Appraisal – A thorough assessment on the value of a property that is based on similar homes in and around the neighborhood.
- Escrow – A specific time period after a buyer’s offer has been accepted by the seller. During this time, title searches are performed, all liens are removed, and the property is inspected and appraised.
- Home Inspection – A visual inspection of the various systems of a home (the piping, roof and wiring etc.). Home inspections take place when the property is in escrow.
- Walkthrough – The final inspection of a home done before closing.
- Closing – The final meeting where ownership of the home is transferred from the seller to the buyer. The buyer, seller and both real estate agents are typically all present at this meeting.
- Closing Costs – Fees attached to the purchase of a home. They are due at the closing transaction. These fees include, home inspections, title searches, appraisals and lawyers’ fees. Closing costs are usually 1% – 3% of the home’s original purchase price.
- Foreclosure – A home that has been repossessed by the lender because the owner has defaulted on their mortgage payments.
- Homeowners’ Insurance – A policy designed to protect the structure of the home as well as the owner’s personal belongings and contents of the property.
- Property Taxes – A municipal tax based upon the value of the home. Property tax helps fund services such as sewer, water and garbage collection.
HIDDEN COSTS FOR HOMEBUYERS
You may have found your dream house in the perfect neighborhood at a price that you can afford. However, this is just the beginning of the home buying process. Consider the following to make sure you can budget appropriately and be prepared financially when buying your first home.
Expect the Unexpected
Unfortunately, the down payment is just one of the costs that will come with your new home. Other hidden or unexpected costs that you will need to budget for include:
- Home insurance –protect your new home from theft, fire, and other disasters. Make sure to insure your personal belongings. Talk to your local insurance provider to get a few quotes.
- Closing costs –budget for costs such as appraisals, lending fees and lawyer fees. Sometimes these fees are part of the closing cost, but make sure to set aside some money if they are not.
Another wise investment will be hiring a home inspector before buying your home. A home inspector can tell you if:
- the structure and foundations of your house are sound.
- there is any rot in the wood or under the siding.
- your roof needs any repairs, large or small.
- there are any faults in the electrical wiring.
Here’s the Deal:
Rarely are these types of problems covered by your house insurance, so make sure either to renegotiate the price or to walk away from the house and find one with fewer problems.
With extra diligence in hiring the home inspector prior to purchasing, you may find out about some projects that definitely will be coming up, or maybe you’ve identified some required or wished for home improvements on your own. Either way, it is good to look ahead and forecast any major costs that will be coming up in the future. This list might include:
- Ensuring the roof is in good condition. This is something that your home inspector would have told you about before buying.
- Any repainting of the interior, exterior and the fence.
- Any major renovations or upgrades to items such as air conditioning, landscaping or furnace.
Chances are your home is going to be bigger than the apartment or townhouse that you are moving from. Part of the cost of owning a new home is furnishing it. You will want to budget for any extra furniture you may need as well as replacement of any worn out or broken appliances.
If your home has a yard you will need the tools and equipment to keep up the exterior of your home and perhaps also a place to store these items.
Here’s the Deal:
As the sole owner of your home you will need to maintain it both inside and outside. Try to keep a rainy-day fund in case any issues arise.
Services and Connections
Do not forget about the costs associated with the services in your new home. Cable, internet and even electricity and gas may have connection fees. Now that you are a homeowner, you will also be paying property taxes as well as fees for services such as garbage and recycling collection, water and other services provided by the City of Brea. Make sure to account for these extra costs.
You may be surprised about the size of your monthly utility bills as well. Heating, cooling and powering a home will add to your expenses. Make sure to set aside a monthly budget for these costs.
Now that you know what to expect when buying a home. I would love to discuss with you one of the most common questions I get as a Brea real estate agent. Which is the best season for buying a home? Is it okay to buy a home in the summer? Is the springtime the best time to buy?
Let’s Start with Summertime…
IS SUMMERTIME A GOOD TIME TO BUY?
Buying a home in the summer can come with some challenges. However, if you are diligent and willing to move fast, there are some great deals and properties available.
Typically, there are more properties available during the summer. Many sellers want to get a deal done and summers offer more flexibility for buyers and sellers alike. During the summer months
- Kids are out of school.
- People usually take holidays over the season.
- It is easier to get out and look at properties with the longer, warmer days.
This increased inventory does not necessarily equate to a great deal, but it does give you, the buyer, a wide range of property options to choose from. If you tend to be picky about what you want and have a list of deal breakers, then the summer Is probably the best time for you to find that perfect home.
More inventory and nicer weather also means more competition. You are not the only buyer looking to take full advantage of summer real estate deals. When you find that perfect home, it is a good idea to act quickly and put in an offer. You will want to avoid getting involved in a bidding war and watching the asking price soar out of your price range.
When looking at specific properties, pay attention to how many days that home has been on the market. The longer a property has been on the market, chances are the seller is going to be more eager to negotiate and make a deal.
Here’s the deal:
Homes that have been on the market for over 6 months usually present the best deals and opportunities.
Consider the Cycle
Different properties have different selling cycles. Availability of stand-alone, single-family homes is usually closely associated with the cycles of the school year. If you are looking to buy this type of home, you may be able to take advantage of the summer real estate market as the sellers will want to be settled in their new home before the start of the next school year. However, apartments and townhouses are geared towards young professionals and may have a different cycle.
Now to the most popular question I get…
IS SPRING REALLY THE BEST TIME TO BUY?
The answer is most often ‘yes’. With the added selection of homes, it is usually the perfect time for potential homebuyers to find their dream home. The large selection of homes on the market brings added competition though, so be prepared.
How to Be Prepared
Like so many other things in life, being fully prepared is essential if you are to find your home in the ultra-competitive spring real estate market. Preparation will allow you to not only look at homes that suit your needs, but will also allow you to make quick offers on properties that you are interested in and hopefully land you your dream home.
Before starting your house search, it is important that you visit your local banks or lenders and get a pre-approved mortgage. By going through the pre-approval process, you will have a better understanding of what you can afford, and this will help you narrow your search. With so many homes on the market, you don’t want to waste your time looking at properties that are outside of your price range.
Consider What’s Important
Once you know what type of home you can afford, you can start to make a list of what criteria are important to you as a homeowner. It is important to be realistic and flexible because you may need to make some compromises. Besides features such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms you need, other important points that you may want to consider when making this list include:
- A home’s distance from your work and your commute time.
- The overall neighborhood feel.
- Proximity to green spaces, schools, community centers and the general walkability score of the property.
Time is of the Essence
Once you have found a property that meets your criteria, you will want to make a reasonable offer as soon as possible. The added competition of Brea’s spring real estate market will not afford you the luxury of taking your time to consider what type of offer you want to put forward. If you take too long, you may risk losing your home to other serious offers or may become involved in a bidding war. Act quickly to avoid either of these scenarios.
Here’s the deal:
Expect to pay full market value for your home in the spring. Try not to get too caught up in paying a few thousand dollars more for your dream home. Over the course of your mortgage, this extra money amounts to very little in the scheme of things.
The Right Real Estate Agent
The right real estate agent can make all the difference in the world when it comes to finding your dream home. Make sure that the agent you use knows the area, community and neighborhoods and has a firm understanding of the local real estate market. Other qualities to look for in your real estate agent include:
- They are hard-working, honest, friendly and reliable.
- They have been involved with other sales in the community and neighborhoods in which you are looking to buy.
- They have a great track record, with many positive testimonials about past sales.
- They are well liked by other real estate agents and can network – this will open up a wider selection of homes for you to view.
Make sure that you remain focused on what is important to you throughout the entire buying process. Factors such as location or the number of bedrooms or square footage should be your focal point. Do not get caught up in questions such as:
- Who is selling the home and why are they selling?
- Is this a traditional sale, a flip or a foreclosure?
These details are rather insignificant and should never influence your home buying decisions.
And last, but not least…
Here are some tips, if you feel that a fixer-upper is perfect for you.
Buying a home that needs repairs can be an excellent way to save money and get into the market at the same time. A fixer-upper can be either a great challenge, allowing you to renovate your home to be the way you always imagined it, or it can be a disaster full of cost over-runs and never-ending projects. As the premier realtor for all your Brea real estate needs, I would like to share these important tips to help you find your dream home and not a renovation nightmare.
Get Professional Help
Hiring a home inspector is a good idea when buying a home, but when it comes to a fixer-upper, a professional is essential. They will be able to tell you the condition of the home including:
- The condition of plumbing and electrical systems.
- The condition of the home’s heating and cooling system.
- The overall condition of the exterior including the roof and the downspouts and gutters.
The final assessment provided by the home inspector should give you a far better understanding of the condition of the home and will allow you to make a better informed decision whether make an offer or to walk away from the property.
To Renovate or Not to Renovate
Any fixer-upper is going to require renovations and work. However, the type of renovations involved should greatly influence your decision on whether this is the right property for you. Typically, renovations fall into two categories – cosmetic and structural. Cosmetic renovations are usually less time consuming and fairly inexpensive and include:
- repairing, replacing or installing flooring, tile or carpet in the home.
- repairing or replacing leaky toilets or faucets.
- replacing or refinishing trim or baseboards.
- changing light switches or light fixtures.
Structural renovations tend to be more costly and time consuming and will require a contractor. These types of renovations include:
- removing walls to expand living space.
- replacing windows in the home with more energy-efficient ones.
- total kitchen or bathroom renovations.
- adding a garage or an addition to the structure.
So now that you are an expert in buying a home on the Brea real estate market it is time to dive in. You are knowledgeable about the right time to buy, familiar with real estate terms, informed about how to decide to buy a fixer-upper, and confident that Brea is the best spot in California to buy. Give me a call and I will get you started on your way to finding your perfect home.