Distinctive Pasadena
Area Real Estate

Buying a Home: It’s a Big Decision

Contemplating purchasing a South Pasadena home, or a residence in any of the other San Gabriel communities, for that matter, is a serious task requiring time, research, self-reflection, and emotional energy. It might even be the biggest financial decision you will ever make. So, if this is your first foray into buying a home, or if you are an experienced buyer, the decision must be made carefully.
The following information is meant as a primer. It will likely bring up questions and concerns as you read through it. Lin Vlacich recommends jotting them down, then giving her a call to arrange an in-depth discussion. Begin by asking yourself two questions:

  • Why Do I Want to Buy? 
    Although this might seem like a very basic query, it deserves serious thought. Maybe you’re just tired of paying a landlord and would rather put that monthly amount into equity on your own home. Or, perhaps you’ve outgrown your current residence due to an expanding family or enhanced lifestyle. Are you thinking it might be time to start an investment portfolio? Changing neighborhoods or communities is a common reason for buying a South Pasadena home. Whatever your reason or reasons for considering a move, it’s important to arrive at a clear understanding. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to actually make a list of reasons, prioritize them, then verify that your primary motivation is valid.
  • Has My Income Grown? 
    If your answer is “Yes,” and if your increased income is sustainable and has the potential for further growth, then now might be a good time to consider purchasing your dream home, or a rental or turnaround property. After all, property ownership can be an excellent investment, and is one of the least risky ways to realize greater future return on that investment.

PREPARATION BEFORE FOR BUYING A HOME  [H2]

Prior to hiring a Realtor and beginning the house shopping adventure, plan on doing some homework.

  • Build Your Green File[H3]
    Important when it comes to securing a mortgage on your new home, your green file is a compendium of important financial documents. Your green file should contain:
  • Financial statements
  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Credit cards
  • Auto loans
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Tax returns for two years
  • Copies of leases for investment properties
  • 401K statements, life insurance, stocks, bonds, and mutual account information.
  • Check Your Credit Rating[H3]
    Of significant importance to the type and price of the home you are qualified to purchase, your credit rating should be evaluated before you proceed with contacting lending institutions. You – and, ultimately, the potential lender — will research your credit ratings from the three credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Lin Vlacichwill be happy to recommend lenders with expertise in residentialand investment real estate.

NOTE: If you are considering a career change or large purchases, perhaps now is not the time to think about attempting to secure a mortgage. Financial strength and stability are key to success with any reputable financial institution.

HOW TO CHOOSE A REAL ESTATE AGENT[H2]

When it comes to purchasing a new home or residential investment property, the seeming mountain of paperwork, tough and complex financial and other decisions, and coordinating it all can seem daunting. If you have ever purchased property, or even if buying your first home is on the horizon, you know, or at least can imagine, how important it is to have an expert on your team. That’s where Lin Vlacich is invaluable. Always ready to take charge and utilize her unsurpassed expertise and experience assisting home buyers and sellers in South Pasadena CA and its neighboring communities, Lin is a proven asset.
Whether you choose Lin Vlacich or another real estate professional, there are several basic things to consider:

  • Research full-time agents having experience completing transactions similar to yours.
  • Interview more than one agent. Make sure they have knowledge and experience related to the community – and, ideally, the neighborhood – you are interested in.
  • Ascertain the amount of time each agent is capable of devoting to you, and if they are available evenings and weekends.
  • The professional credentials and education of any potential candidates are extremely important. That includes the agent keeping up with the absolute latest information on real estate market and marketing trends, legal aspects and more. In addition, do research and ask regarding awards, accolades, professional certifications and association memberships.
  • Note if the prospective agent returns calls promptly and is on time for the listing appointment.
  • Peruse the agent’s website. Better yet, ask the agent to go through it with you and explain his or her justification for each section, appreciation for search engine optimization, and beliefs about the overall value of the website and social media in the marketing of properties such as yours.
  • Acquire a list of properties sold by the prospective agent, and examples of testimonials from satisfied clients — either via the agent’s website or a requested overview.
  • Above all, select an agent who you trust and with whom you feel comfortable.

SHOPPING FOR A HOME[H2]

Complete the preparations above, then find the right property for your needs.
Take a Drive. Take a Walk. Take in the Ambiance.[H3]
Whether your search starts with communities or neighborhoods within a specific community, you might want to begin by car so you can gain an overview of the area. Notice the types of homes and businesses, public spaces, street layouts and maintenance, etc. If possible, once you have decided on a neighborhood or two, consider a walkabout or even a bike ride. You might find yourself talking to locals and stopping in a few shops or other retail establishments. Make notes if you need to. And jot down the addresses of any homes for sale.
Focus Your Search[H3]
During your walkabouts and rideabouts you will likely find at least a few homes that appeal to you. You can get information on them online through the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). If you are considering buying a home in the San Gabriel Valley, you can search the Pasadena area MLS right here on the Lin Vlacich website. Your real estate agent can also point you to other listings in the community or communities of your choice. For example, Lin has her finger on the pulse of local listing activity: on the MLS, upcoming, and private (a.k.a. “pocket”) listings. She can then make appointments for you to visit them, and will accompany you to each one.
Buying Time[H3]
When you are buying a home, making an offer is definitely one of the most important steps. It requires not just in-depth knowledge of the process, but also experience and expertise regarding the specific market and its current and long-term real estate activity and values. Those things must be balanced with an understanding of the potential costs and expenses associated with the home, a feel for what kind of offer the seller will accept, and the price and terms that will give you an advantage over other offers. That’s why it is vital to have an experienced real estate professional such as Lin Vlacich on your team.

THE AGREEMENT, ESCROW, APPRAISALS AND INSPECTIONS [H2]

 

The Agreement and Deposit.[H3]
2 important things to keep in mind:

  • Keep written records. In order to avoid misunderstandings along the way, all verbal agreements — especiallycounteroffers and addendums – should be transcribed into written agreements and signed by both parties. Your agent will be your guide when it comes to drafting documents and supplying copies.
  • Abide by the agreed upon timeline and deadlines. Each stage in the course of closing the real estate contract will have a designated time of completion in order to ensure negotiations move along efficiently and that neither party is in breach of the agreement. You will be kept updated and informed each step of the way.

The Closing Agent.  [H3]
The tasks and responsibilities of the closing agent require specialized expertise. That’s why a title company or attorney will be assigned the position. The deposit will be held in escrow and in-depth research of the property’s recorded history will be undertaken in order to guarantee the title is free and clear of encumbrances. All new encumbrances will be properly added to the title. For example, often properties are subject to limits on certain activities such as building or parking. In addition, there might be recorded easements and encroachments, which affect various rights to use the property.
Inspections. [H3]
Once the seller accepts your offer, you will have a licensed property inspector conduct an inspection of the property. If you have concerns about specific features of the home, such as the roof or potential mold problems, you will have the option to call in specialized inspectors.
The outcomes of the inspections will lead to one of the following actions:

  • All inspections will be completed, with positive results, and the contingencies will be removed.

Or . . .

2)Subsequent to you and your agent reviewing the outcomes of the inspections in question, and if problems are found, you may decide to request renegotiation of the contract.

The Lender and Appraiser. [H3]
Keeping in touch with your lender is one of your most important responsibilities. If you haven’t heard from the lending representative for a reasonable period of time, make contact. You’ll need to know if there are any additional documents you need to provide in order to get your loan funded.
The lending institution will appoint a licensed appraiser in order to verify the value of the home. That value will be based on such things as square footage, comparable home sales in the area, building cost and so on. It’s always wise to contact your lender a couple weeks prior to scheduled closing, just to make sure your loan approval and funding is on track.
Association Approval, if Applicable. [H3]
Gated enclaves, condominium complexes and planned unit home developments require approval by the homeowners’ association. If you are buying a home within one of those private communities, your purchase will be conditional upon association consent. It will be your responsibility to request the rules, regulations, and any other important documents from the seller as soon as you have a written agreement to purchase. All application documents and a processing fee must be submitted to the association by the scheduled time. In addition, you might be asked to meet with the association in order to secure approval. If that is the case, make an appointment to do so as soon as possible. The closing agent will require a certificate of approval for recording with the title.
Property Insurance. [H3]
Every lending institution requires the home loan recipient to have property insurance. Its value is based on things such as the property value and purchase price. Of course, shopping around is always wise when it comes to insurance, and the following suggestions can help s well:

  • Specify a higher deductible. Usually, a big difference in your premium amount can be realized by increasing the deductible by even a few hundred dollars.
  • Take advantage of insurance company discounts. Always ask an insurance representative about discounts. Most companies offer them if the insured bundles coverage for things like home, car and life. Other things that might give you discounts include smoke and CO2 detectors, security alarms, natural and man-made disaster deterrents and so on. Seniors are frequently eligible for discounts as well.
  • House,notland. Unless there is a chance the land your house sits on will be swept away by a flood or landslide, you will be wasting money by insuring it. That’s why insurance experts say, “Insure the house, not the land under it.”  

FINAL TASKS BEFORE YOUR MOVE [H2]

 

The Walk-Through.[H3]
Whether it is done the day before closing or closing day, the walk-through has gone from mere formality to practical tradition. This is when you get a chance to visit your new home and verify that there are no surprises. That means confirming that things are essentially the same as they were during your last visit, that everything is working properly, and that items included in the contract is present
Utilities and Other Services.[H3]
Lin will be happy to provide a list of useful numbers for the activation of home services and utilities after the closing occurs.
No Stress. No Worries. No Problem.[H3]
Lin Vlacich is a veteran real estate professional who has assisted hundreds of clients who are buying a home navigate the process from start through closing. If something unexpected happens, chances are Lin has dealt with it before and will handle it calmly and professionally.
Closing.[H3]
A settlement statement, provided by the closing agent, details the financial transactions of the process. You, the seller and the closing agent will sign the document, thereby certifying its accuracy. In addition, you will sign documentation required by the lending institution. You may have your funds wired to the closing agent’s escrow account, or you can elect to bring a certified check in the amount specified on the settlement statement. The seller is obliged to bring all property keys and any important information.
Do you have questions and concerns? Contact Lin Vlacichat 626.688.6464.