Orange County Home Buyer Resources
Determining your home needs
How much home can you afford?
This is the most important question. My previous home buyer pages have hopefully helped you determine how much home what you can afford and how much you willing to spend monthly for your new home. I would never advise living beyond your means.
Where do you want to live?
After determining how much you can afford, the second question is usually "where do I want to live?". There are many different cities and areas in Orange County, CA, and they each have their strong points. For example, the City of Irvine is known for its excellent schools, Ladera Ranch has great recreational facilities for families and children, and Mission Viejo has a wonderful 150 acre lake that is open to all residents of the city. Are great schools a priority? Do you want to live in a cooler climate closer to the beaches or do you prefer an area with more year-round sunshine? Do you want to live close to work to shorten your commuting time or is your home life a higher priority?
My city and area pages (links to the
left) will provide you with a lot of information on each of the areas.
You may also wish to visit my schools
page which has links for schools, ratings, etc. Visit my map
of Orange County page also, as there are geographical maps as
well as a map of Orange County School districts. If you have questions
on any of the cities or areas of Orange County, just call me. I will
be happy to discuss the fine points of each location with you!
What type of home? Detached, condo, town home, single family home, duplex?
A town home is a unit with attached walls, but no attached floors, so no one is living above or below you. Many town homes have two or more floors, plus an outdoor patio or small yard. Also with a town home, you own the land under the unit, whereas with a condo, you do not. For investors, they may use the portion of the town home that is structure for accelerated depreciation (land cannot be depreciated). For both condos and town homes, much of the exterior maintenance of home and outside property is the responsibility of the home owners' association (or HOA). While this involves an extra cost, the HOA alleviates the home owner of several maintenance issues, plus they may also pay for water, trash collection, etc.
For many people, a single family home is the home of choice. These homes have no attached walls and typically have a front and back yard. Of course, single family homes are more expensive than town homes or condos with the same amount of square feet. Single family homes also have the disadvantage that all of the maintenance to the home and property are 100% your responsibility. The advantage of a single family home is privacy, space, and often the freedom from home owners' association's rules and regulations.
For some, a multi-unit property such as duplex, triplex, or fourplex is the answer. The advantage of one of these is that the owner can live in one unit while renting out the others. The owner may also choose to purchase the unit as a pure rental facility. The loan costs are often higher for pure rental properties than they would be for an owner-occupied unit. You can find many duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes on my income properties web page.
What you decide on may be determined by your budget. For many people buying their first home or for down-sizers, a town home may be an excellent choice because of the lower cost and common area maintenance. Other buyers prefer to move up to a single family home and willing to pay the higher price.
Once you've decided on the type of home you are comfortable with, How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? How many square feet? Are you comfortable with a two story or would you prefer a single level home? Do you want a laundry room? Attached garage? Think about the features you will want in your new home and decide which ones are critical or optional, as you may not be able to afford a home with everything you want. What other home features are important to you? Do you have a dog? You may want a home with a yard or large patio. do you want to live in a gated community? You may wish to own a home with a laundry room, guest room, den, 3-car garage, a pool or spa, etc.
The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is the on-line tool that all real estate agents use to search for homes. Keep in mind that agents can search for many features, but there are limitations. The basic items like square feet, number bedrooms, single family or condo, 2 car garage, etc, are easily searchable. There are limitations however and basically the data is only as good as what the listing agent entered into the system. Also, agent remarks are not readily searchable (e.g., the agent states "large kitchen" in the text description). In many cases you'll have to look at the photos or visit the home to verify many of the cosmetic details.
Here is an example of a practical search:
These search items are impractical: