Top 11 Things
- Choose to buy
- Hire a real estate agent
- Secure financing
- Find a condo
- Know What the HOA Fees Are
- Review The HOA Rules
- Research Managment and HOA
- Make an offer
- Perform due diligence
- Close on the condo
- Protect your investment
Here’s the deal:
Buying a condo in Orange County is a big decision, time consuming and very expensive so you need to be careful.
We have put together an easy check list to follow to help buyers with every step of the way.
Don’t ever rush into buying a condo (no matter what) and always do your own homework to make sure you are comfortable.
The steps and tips outlined below offer some great insights into the reality of buying a condo in todays world.
Choose to Buy A Condo
There are many reasons why people decide to buy a condo or a house in OC –
and building wealth is one of those reasons.
Over the long run (in most cities) owning real estate can be a great investment and offer financial security as you get older.
Building equity and the tax benefits (writing off the mortgage interest) are the big financial benefits you’ll get from buying a condo in Orange County.
Of course the other popular reason people decide to buy a condo is to have a place to live where you can do what you want.
When you rent a condo obviously you can’t paint, or remodel, or knock down walls, but once you own it’s then up to you.
So base your decision on Logic and Facts, not just fears
- If you are paying monthly rent then you might be able to afford the monthly mortgage payment
- If you plan to live in the condo for a while then it will be a good purchase in the end, timing is everything so be patient
- You don’t have to have 20% down payment, there are many options available for condominium buyers
- You don’t have to have perfect credit score, but plan ahead and improve your credit rating before you apply for a mortgage
- Everybody has to start somewhere, so buy what you can afford and move up later on
- Buying a condo isn’t as scary as it seems, hire a good agent and reduce your stress
Hire a Real Estate Agent
A normal real estate deal can involve over ten people by the time you are done.
Realtors, home inspectors, escrow company, mortgage broker, insurance agents will all be necessary to help you complete your condo purchase.
This is why it’s super important to find and hire a good local real estate agent in Orange County that you can trust and count on.
A condo purchase is stressful, but when you find a good buyers agent the whole buying process can be made much easier.
What’s the bottom line:
Your OC agent will do many things for you, but below are the key things you’ll need them to do.
- Truly understand your wants and needs
- Educates you about local Orange County real estate market
- Does research so you only tour properties you might actually want
- Negotiates at a high level to save you money
- Double checks all the paperwork and deadlines
- Alerts you immediately to any problems and solves them ASAP
Secure Financing / Pick a Mortgage
Many people think of buying a condo in Orange County as exciting, overwhelming, and expensive, and it’s all three of those!
For most people taking out a mortgage that is $450,000 to buy a condo is scary and confusing.
Typically people choose a mortgage that offers a set monthly payment for 30 years (or 15 years).
Many first time homebuyers in Orange County start out very nervous and unsure of the process, even previous home owners can be scared.
Although the financing process is complex and frightening, it becomes easier to digest when your agent or mortgage broker explains it.
We have simplified the process below into 6 steps that break down the experience of securing financing for you OC condo.
Simple 6 Steps To Secure Condo Financing
- Find and choose a mortgage broker
- Submit a loan application and get pre approved
- Decide what type of loan you want, how many years, down payment etc.
- Once you have an accepted purchase contract you’ll submit it to your lender
- Get an appraisal on the property and title commitment
- Finally you’ll obtain funding at closing
Search For The Condo You Want To Buy
Some people want to buy a condo in Orange County and so they’ll start driving all over town looking at neighborhoods that they like.
Using a website like orangecountydream.com allows a potential condo buyer to compare 100’s of viable listings without leaving their house.
It’s easier if you look in a small area, like buying a condo in Huntington Beach CA.
Basically we all now carry a computer (cell phone) in our pocket, and you can search for a condo to buy from your couch, Starbucks, etc.
The most important thing is to decide what are “must haves” and “how many sq ft you need“, then you can actually narrow down neighborhoods, and options.
Below we have put together 7 main questions to ask yourself before and during your serach for a condo you want to buy.
You Might Be Wondering:
- How many sq ft do I really need
- What is my actual budget I can afford per month
- Where do I want to live, near freeways or beach, etc.
- Do I want new construction or an older condo
- Are you open to buying a condo that needs updating
- What amenities and features are must haves – pool, garage, etc.
- Do you have kids, is top concern safety like gated entrance, etc.
Know What The HOA Fees Are
Be sure to look into what the HOA dues are every month and what the fees cover – landscape, pool, etc.
The last thing you want is to not be fully aware of the fees, or misunderstand where your money goes every month.
Each HOA is unique so it’s best to ask a lot of questions to make sure you get answers.
Review The HOA Rules
The HOA rules can be strict and annoying, so plan ahead.
Some HOA’s are very fair and flexible, while other associations are very strict and prison like.
Once you buy a condo in a community you are then stuck with whatever the HOA rules are, so don’t assume anything.
If possible even knock on a few neighbors doors to ask them about the HOA and how they like living there.
Research The HOA and Management
Always research who is going to be in charge of the community and making the rules.
Typically it’s pretty easy nowadays to find out anything you want online – thanks google.
I had a friend who bought a condo in HB, and 12 months later they raised the monthly fees to pay for a new roof.
But the problem was the management had wasted money in the prior years which caused the new residents to eat the difference.
Now It’s Time To Make an Offer
After you’ve searched high and low, and driven all over town with your Orange County real estate agent, and finally picked a condo you like,
then it’s time to write up an official offer for your agent to present to the sellers agent.
Although making an offer is a simple process, you must use some common sense before submitting the offer.
3 main components for any offer are –
- and contingencies
The price you decide to offer for the condo must be realistic and truly reflect the market value of the condo you are looking to purchase (and your agent will help with this).
Here’s the deal:
In other words offering 10% below list price might be tolerable, but coming in 25% below list price is just silly and insulting to the seller.
The terms are made up of factors (move in date, close of escrow, etc.) that will be written up in the offer.
The contingency clause gives parties the right to back out of the contract under certain circumstances that should be negotiated between the buyer and seller.
Terms will fall under these basic categories:
- Schedule – a timeline of events that must happen before closing on the condo
- Conveyances – list of items that stay with the house after the sellers leave the property
- Commission – the real estate fees paid out to the sellers agent and the buyers agent (typically 3% to each, but may vary).
- Condo Warranty – this will cover repairs or fixes necessary to appliances and major systems like AC, you can ask seller to pay for this.
- Closing costs – it is standard for the condo buyers to pay their closing costs, but you can ask the seller to roll the costs into the loan – needs to be in the contract
- Earnest $ – this will protect the seller from the possibility that buyer unexpectedly pulls out of the deal, shows how serious buyer really is
Perform Due Diligence
When you buy a condominium in Orange County CA, you can’t just return it or get your money back if you are unhappy.
This is the reason that condo owner’s insurance and property inspections are vital to the condo buying process.
Again this is the kind of thing your real estate agent will help you with.
A condo owner’s insurance policy can protect you in two ways:
- offers liability in case somebody is injured while on your property
- helps against loss or damage to the condo property itself
Having the condo professionally inspected will expose any real issues that you as the buyer want to know about and might even change your mind to buy.
Because once you start signing papers and moving forward you can’t just change your mind like you would buying groceries – LOL.
The real value of the inspection is to make the buyer aware and sure of the purchase.
– Major concern should be things like structural damage or a bad roof, etc.
– Buyers shouldn’t freak out over little things like a broken window, or paint that is chipping
– If the inspection shows major issues then hire a specialist and worst case is that the problems are large and you walk away from buying the condo
Closing On Your Condo
Finally after all your research, touring properties, and getting your offer accepted, the final stage of “closing is next”.
The final stage of the buying process will be your lender confirming the value and legal status of the condo, and your credit-worthiness.
This will involve a survey, an appraisal, title search (lots of paperwork) and a final check on your finances (job, etc.) and your credit score.
Assuming you hired a good real estate agent, he or she will keep you up to date on how each step is progressing.
Main point though is at this stage your work is basically done.
Just take care of a few pre-closing duties:
- Don’t let your finances change (don’t buy a car, etc.)
- Communicate with your agent several times a week as needed
- Return all paperwork and calls immediately
- Days before closing make sure with your agent that all paperwork is in place
- Now secure certified funds for closing
- Do your final walk through of the condo
The exciting part now on closing day with your agent and settlement agents you’ll sign documents to –
- Complete and finalize the mortgage
- Funds transferred to pay the seller
- Pay your closing costs
- Transfer title from seller to you and legally record transaction as public record
Protect Your Condo Investment
All during the condo buying process you will spend a lot of time with your real estate agent, mortage broker, etc.
Buying a condo is a big investment and you need to protect your purchase, so plan ahead.
After you close on your condo you can still ask you agent for help when:
- If your condo needs repairs ask agent for referrals to contractors
- When it comes times to file your tax return as a homeowner
- If you have friends or family looking to buy a condo
- Eventually if you want to sell your condo
In addition to all of this be sure to properly maintain your condo inside and out.
Yes the HOA will do most of the needed repairs to exterior, but you need to be responsible yourself.
Keep an eye out for water damage, leads, wear and tear, plumbing issues, etc.