Buyers Guide

Luxury Los Angeles Real Estate: 10 Tips for LA Home Buyers

The 10 Tips for LA Home Buyers was created especially for my clients to avoid the frustrations and errors that can happen buying luxury Los Angeles real estate. As a top real estate agent, my #1 goal is to provide the best quality service for my clients. By working together. I commit to my clients who buy real estate, to obtain a property at the best value, with the least amount of stress, in the right time frame ~ whether they are buying a home in Beverly Hills or Calabasas or anywhere in between!

Let’s face it, buying a home in Los Angeles is not simple ~ it can be equal parts stress and excitement. If the process is not well managed, add an extra layer of disappointment and letdown. Homebuyers who make wrong assumptions and short-sighted decisions often pay the price.

The 10 Tips below are fundamental to the process in Los Angeles real estate. There are no shortcuts in successfully buying a home in Los Angeles. I encourage you to invest a little time at the onset of this journey, so that you won’t be disappointed down the road. Let’s get started!

#1 Write down your top “Wants & Needs” of having a new home. Just as the Spice Girls song goes, “ So tell me what you want, what you really, really want”, it is critically important to prioritize what you really want and more importantly, what you really, really need. For example, I need to be closer to work, but i want to live in a gated community versus I need to live in a gated community and I want to be closer to work. In other words, what do you have to or want to accomplish with this purchase? If living in a certain school district is your priority, check out the Parents Education League of LA for more resources. If you are relocating to Los Angeles, it is even more critical to discuss neighborhoods and traffic/commute patterns with an LA Realtor.
#2 Have a Conversation with your Banker or Lender as soon as possible. Buyers without a Pre-Qualification letter or Pre-Approval letter are not taken seriously. If you want to explore other options, there are many competitive online lenders such as Social Finance that can give you a quick online analysis of your purchase power.

#3 Window Shop online. Sites like Sotheby’s, and offer a good representation of los angeles homes and mansions for sale, and are easy to sign up for a search. However, the best way to immediately know when a property goes on the market or gets scooped up, is to have a Realtor sign you up with a personalized and localized search on the MLS. The other services like Zillow and Trulia are often 2 or more days delayed and you may miss out on a great property.

#4 Scope out Open Houses, but Never make an Offer with the Listing Agent, as he or she represents the Seller, not you! (Also, Open House inventory only represents a fraction of what is available for sale.) Many innocent Buyers work with a Listing Agent because they believe they will save money via reduced commissions. A recent California Supreme Court ruling against a Malibu real estate agent in the sale of a beach house will help you understand the risks involved with dual agency and the importance of Buyer Representation.

#5 Make a Prioritized Checklist of Features that are important to you. For example, an open kitchen and a deck for entertaining. Here is a NAR Checklist to help you get started. Finding the right home is like dating though! It may happen that you walk into a home that you LOVE, but is missing some of your favorite features. Are you willing to LOVE that home, even with its faults?

#6 Choose and Work with One experienced Agent who communicates with you in a professional manner acceptable to you. You may have a relative or a friend that works in a different market encouraging you to work with them. Be wary as to their abilities and expertise. Also, committing to work with one agent ensures that agent is 100% committed to you.

#7 Be Realistic. As of this posting, it is a Seller’s Market in Los Angeles. There is very little inventory currently, and bidding wars are not uncommon. Be prepared to ante up if you face some competition. Unless you are paying cash, your lender will require an appraisal. If the value is there, it’s there. If not, you do not have to pay over appraisal.

#8 Learn some of the real estate lingo and terms so you feel comfortable during the negotiations and escrow. Here is a helpful glossary.

#9 Bring a contractor to your inspections even if you are not planning to remodel.The contractor’s estimates for noted repairs or remodels are valuable for negotiation during the due diligence period. If the Seller is not responsive to your repair requests, at least you know what you are dealing with. You can make an informed decision within the due diligence period whether to walk away with your earnest money deposit fully refundable or continue the escrow.

#10 Stay the Course. Well-meaning friends and family can often insert their opinions into your plans. Try not to let fears or negative emotions brew when others share their poor experiences or past failures.

I hope these Tips are helpful and I invite you to bookmark this page for your future reference. You can also email it to yourself!

Want more? For my complete Checklist of 100 Tips and Terms contact me. I have worked with a range of different clients, from first-time home buyers to savvy investors and can support you in finding the perfect home.

Your LA Realtor, CA & NV Real Estate Agent,

Desiree Lapin and Luxury Real Estate by Desiree Lapin of Sotheby’s International Realty

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