How to Buy a Home in Orange County

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For California buyers, it can be daunting to watch the news constantly report on rising home prices. We are all familiar with the cost of living in our Golden State. It’s old news.

The news media always forgets to mention though is that we live in paradise! With perfect year-round temperatures, access to the beach and to the mountains, you know you wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.

Orange County is home.

The challenge of purchasing a home in Orange County is worth it. Additionally, you get to invest in the best state. While the real estate market is volatile at times, investing in California real estate is a good investment.

So if you are curious if you will ever be able to enjoy the sweet victory of owning your own home in our glorious region, you will. Here’s how:

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Attend a Homebuyer Class

Buying a home will be one of the most complicated transactions you will undergo. From qualifying for a mortgage to understanding loan options to navigating real estate disclosures to working with an inspector and more, purchasing a home is a complex ordeal. It will also represent the largest purchase you have ever made. According to the CBS Money Watch, Orange County is one of the “10 most expensive places to live in the U.S.” 

Homeownership is possible here, but it’s essential to be a smart buyer. Which is why you need to be equipped with the most powerful tool possible going in: knowledge.

The more you know about the process, the more successful you will be. We have all met homeowners with buyer’s remorse. Oftentimes it results from the fact that they weren’t ready to purchase or they bought too much house. You don’t want to follow in those footsteps.

Instead, attend our Homebuyer Workshop.

This eight-hour, in-depth course fully prepares you for every decision you will need to make throughout the process. We will cover:

  • Credit
  • Budgeting
  • Lending
  • Down Payment
  • Home Insurance
  • And More

We leave no stone unturned. When you leave this course, you’ll know how many credit cards you need to have, different loan options, what the process looks like from start to finish and the responsibilities that come with home ownership.

 

Meet with a Homebuyer Coach

Working with a homebuyer coach is probably the most underutilized resources in the real estate world. To prove our point, there is a large possibility you have never even heard of a homebuyer coach. 

We believe it is the most important step. That’s why we provide free coaching for first-time homebuyers.

All first-time homebuyers have a lot of questions about determining how to best move forward. You’ll likely be asking:

  • What is my credit score?
  • Do I qualify for any assistance or first-time homebuyer programs?
  • Am I ready to purchase today?
  • How much house can I afford?
  • What type of interest rate or loan type is best for my situation?
  • Where do I fall on the AMI (Average Medium Income) scale?

Our coaches work with you one on one to understand if you are mortgage ready today. If you aren’t there today, they outline specific steps to get you there.

This isn’t your traditional coaching. Our team members are your accountability partners for the entire journey. We want you to succeed. That’s why we will regularly check in with you to see your progress, answer questions, and help you navigate any challenges that come up in the process.

Whether you are ready to buy today or if it takes you three years to achieve this goal, you’re never alone in the process. Schedule your coaching session today.

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Prepare for Homeownership

Our clients fall into two categories: mortgage ready or not ready today. 

If you are not ready today, after working with our coaches you will have a step-by-step plan to address any specifics. Typically this includes paying down debt, increasing a credit score, or saving for a down payment.

Clients who are mortgage ready today typically own a home in six months. Clients working toward home ownership typically achieve the goal in two to three years of working with us.

 

Select a Home Style and Neighborhood 

The median home price in Orange County is $645,000 according to a recent CoreLogic report. The closer you head toward the coast, the more likely the home price will hit $725,000 as it has in Huntington Beach. Moving toward Santa Ana, Aliso Viejo or Buena Park will put you closer to $500,000 for a single-family home.

The most important decision you will make throughout this entire process is choosing a neighborhood and home size that fits your budget.

Orange County home prices vary in different neighborhoods. It’s essential to choose an area that fits your budget. If your family’s income is $70,000 a year, you will not be able to afford Fullerton. Instead, you can find great options in other areas such as Anaheim.

After choosing a neighborhood in your price bracket, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart about home type. Most families purchasing for the first time will need to explore condominium options. The key to purchasing in Orange County is to start small. Get your foot in the door by purchasing a condo. Then after several years of investing into your own home and saving, you can move up in home. It’s not uncommon to have families move up two to three times to achieve their ideal home. 

The key is to start with what you can afford. 

Many communities in the region are starting to build affordable housing options for families who are below 80% AMI. San Juan Capistrano, Irvine, Anaheim and Huntington Beach are just some of the areas. 

You can own a home in Orange County. It all comes down to being a smart buyer and exploring different options around the county.

 

Work With a Realtor

You don’t have to navigate the different communities on your own. Partnering with an experienced Realtor will help you identify the areas best suited to your lifestyle and budget. Especially in Orange County, it’s essential to work with a realtor who understands the different areas, is knowledge about finding affordable options, is up to date on current trends, and wants the best for you and your family.

We break this down to three essentials:

  • Experienced
  • Knowledgeable
  • Passionate

This isn’t a job for your co-worker’s cousin’s former girlfriend you met once. A serious life decision merits working with a professional.

We recommend interviewing three different realtors to determine who is the best fit for you. Hopefully you will consider interviewing our heart-centered realtor with over 26 years experience. We guarantee she hits all three essentials.

A high-caliber realtor will walk you through neighborhood selection, discovering a home, and the purchasing process.

Get to Know the Neighborhood

Once you close in escrow, install new locks on your home (you never know who had a key before you), and submit your mail forward, it’s time to get to know your neighbors. The idea of home doesn’t end at your doormat. Instead, it extends to the entire community.

Knowing your neighbors is an important step of “moving into” your new home. You want to build a community. It’s not just good for neighborhood BBQs. These are also the individuals you will rely on to keep an eye out on your home while you are enjoying a weekend in Big Bear.

While you are at it, you should extend that community invitation to your local police station and fire department. Introducing yourself here helps keep you in the know about anything that happens in your neighborhood.

 

Start Today

You may or may not be ready to buy a home today. The important thing is to start working toward achieving homeownership. Attending our Homebuyer Workshop and meeting with our coaches is the best place to start.

In six to 36 months, you could be settling into your new Orange County home. With a dream like that, it’s hard to not get excited. 

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