Buying Your New Home
As one of the largest metropolis areas in the United States, Los Angeles (LA) boasts a competitive—and expensive—housing market. This chapter will help you participate in the LA real estate market by providing an overview of the homebuying process as well as the benefits of enlisting the help of a Realtor.

BEFORE YOU START LOOKING AT HOUSES
Start by identifying preferred and ideal locations based on your needs, social activities, job location and lifestyle preferences. Since you are new to the area, get familiar by driving around some of the neighborhoods at different times of the day. Once targeted locations are identified, it is important to define living needs within the house and the style you seek. Because of LA’s size, renting and living in the city for at least one year is recommended. It will give you ample time to adjust to your new location and determine the best neighborhood for you and your family.

For example, how many bedrooms and bathrooms are needed? Do you have special requests, such as ample kitchen counter space or an island in the kitchen for food preparation? What about the importance of having a family room or backyard? Are there preferences for the kitchen, such as gourmet features with top-of-the-line appliances, or will a functional kitchen be acceptable? What architectural and aesthetic preferences are important to you—single-level, multilevel, traditional or contemporary, bold and modern or warm and rustic? What about a swimming pool, a scenic view or a big yard? Are any of these items a priority? If so, your real estate agent will need to know. A discussion about location or proximity to certain facilities and amenities is also an important conversation that will influence a family’s opinion of a property.

It’s also important to note what you don’t like and communicate that to your Realtor®. If traffic noise near your home is a problem, make note. Traffic is an issue around LA so living further out from the city might be best. Is there adequate shade around the property so the utilities won’t be high in summer? Is the potential home light, bright and airy or in need of immediate modernization? Is the property located in your preferred school district? Is it necessary to drive far to buy groceries or access retail services? Are there adequate roadways in and out of your neighborhood, especially during LA’s notorious rush-hour traffic? Let these ideas help you develop your own list that you can refer to during the home-shopping process. This can help you avoid making a rash, emotional decision.

USING THE WEB AS A RESEARCH TOOL
In addition to searching for properties and real estate agents in the LA area at the California Association of REALTORS (CAR), there are national real estate Web sites that list homes for sale and provide information and tips but don’t handle transactions. These include Zillow.com (www.zillow.com), Yahoo Real Estate (www.realestate.yahoo.com) and MSN Real Estate (www.realestate.msn.com). At these sites, you can learn about individual neighborhoods, school districts, local area statistics and home values as well as access current real estate market reports.

SELECTING A REAL ESTATE AGENT
Before you relocate to the area, it is a good idea is to find a real estate agent who is a relocation specialist or a buyer’s agent. A relocation specialist specializes in helping people move to a new area, and many are available through nationwide real estate brokerages. If you’re unfamiliar with real estate companies in the Los Angeles region, you can ask a real estate agent you know in your current city for a company recommendation or affiliation. You can go online and search for companies that meet your needs and geographic location. You also can contact the advertisers included in this relocation guide.

Selecting the right real estate agent is important because you will be working closely with that professional on one of the most important financial transactions in your life. When interviewing real estate agents, include these questions:
  • Is the real estate agent a certified Realtor?
  • Does the Realtor have any additional training or designations? Does the agent’s business card and Web site information reflect this?
  • How long has the agent been in the business?
  • How well does the agent know the NYC real estate market?
  • How many transactions was the agent involved with last year?
  • Does the agent work full-time or part-time?
  • Is the agent a good communicator and present himself or herself professionally?
  • Which tools does the agent use to communicate—by phone and e-mail?
  • How accessible is this person during the workweek and the weekend?
  • Does the agent know the community you may be interested in?
  • Is the Realtor a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent or a dual agent?
  • Does he or she have recent client references?

After deciding on the right agent, it’s important to remember to keep communication lines open, sharing any thoughts, concerns or reservations at any point along the way to ensure the best homebuying experience.

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