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Top 5 Orange County House Hunting Tips

Orange County is a beautiful place to live. It has great year-round weather and access to lots of activities and attractions, making it an ideal locale to call home. For these reasons, among others, real estate is pricey and in high demand.

Why Move to Orange County?

orange county beach pier during sunset

Image via Flickr by sergei.gussev

Orange County has phenomenal beaches, including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach. It’s an hour from Los Angeles, yet less densely populated. Several fun cities are within relatively close driving distance. Los Angeles is to the north of Orange County, San Diego is to the south, and the Riverside Palm Springs area is to the east.

Another major perk of Orange County is the ability to take nearby trips to other fabulous locations. If you’re looking for a change of scenery and a new adventure, you can hop in the car and take a road trip. Joshua Tree National Park, Big Bear Lake, and Palm Springs are all within two- to three-hour drives. If you’re missing cooler temperatures or want to ski, you’ll even find snow up in the mountains around Big Bear Lake. Now that you’ve decided to move to Orange County, how do you start the process?

Get Your Financing Figured Out

When hunting for a house, you’ll find the process goes faster if you have your financing approved ahead of time. The steps to secure financing include:

  • Find and choose a loan officer. You’ll want to find a loan officer who can give you interest rates and terms and help you determine what you can afford.
  • Apply for the loan and get preapproval. To get preapproved for your home loan, gather the required documents, including tax forms, W-2s, pay stubs, photo ID, gift letters, and rental history.
  • Select a loan option, determined by what you can or want to pay. Look at available options, including fixed-rate or adjustable-rate, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Veteran’s Association (VA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to determine which is best for you.

Define What You Want in a Home

You know you want to find a home you love, so it helps to start with a list of features you need, then note additional features you want to have. Include the number of bedrooms you’ll need, kitchen type and size, outdoor space requirements, and other necessary rooms, such as a family recreational room. Are you open to a condo or only in search of a traditional single-family home? Would you consider a mobile, modular, or manufactured home? Know what you’re looking for before you start the search to keep it simple and focused.

Find a Realtor to Help You

Once you’ve thought about what you need and want in your ideal home and narrowed your criteria, find a realtor you want to work with to find you the home of your dreams. A realtor is a vital part of finding a property that matches your unique specifications. You’ll share your needs and wants with your realtor, and they’ll match it to available homes using a multiple listing service (MLS). Also, if you’re unsure what you need and want, a realtor can help you pinpoint your desired features and clarify the home type that best suits your family or individual needs.

Once you find a house that meets your criteria, you’ll make an appointment to view the property with your realtor. After touring the home and finding it meets all your needs, you decide whether you want to submit an offer on the home.

Your realtor will be an asset by helping you remain objective, as they’ll investigate similar homes in the same area to determine the house’s market value and make sure the place you want is listed at a fair price. If everything looks good, your realtor will then explain and guide you through the process of making an offer.

The three main components of an offer are: 

  • Price. The price offer covers the dollar amount you’re willing and able to pay, as per the loan amount for which you’ve been approved.
  • Terms. Other factors included in the offer, such as financial and timing issues, are the terms of your offer.
  • Contingencies. These are clauses that free you from purchasing the house if you find it has problems you weren’t aware of when you made the offer.

Get the Home Inspected

Next, you’ll need to have a professional inspector go through the house with a fine-toothed comb. This is another opportunity for you to put reason before your emotional attachment to a particular house. No matter how much you love a house, no home is perfect. A thorough inspection can reveal hidden damage and structural problems you’ll want to be aware of before finalizing the sale. It’s highly recommended that you’re present at the time of or upon conclusion of the inspection. Afterward, the inspector will prepare a report with all the findings.

The inspector’s report will cover all the details, from possible serious findings to small, cosmetic items. If the inspector uncovers anything significant, you’ll be aware before signing the closing papers and can decide to pull your offer. If the home has minor or easy-to-repair issues, you might decide it’s still worth buying. Either way, you’ll know you’re going forward with your eyes open. 

Close on Your New Home

You’re now at the home stretch of this complex journey. To make sure it goes smoothly, stay in touch with your realtor and lender, returning all phone calls promptly. Check that you’ve completed all the paperwork to secure your mortgage. Confirm you have a settlement statement, certified funds, and proof of insurance before closing.

Take a final walk-through of the house with your realtor before signing anything. At the closing, your realtor will guide you through all the paperwork, step-by-step, as you gain ownership of your new house. Now it’s time to enjoy your home and life in beautiful Orange County, California. If you decide to restore the deck on your new property or refurbish a front door or gazebo, reach out to Teak Master Exterior Wood Refinishing Experts.

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