Ron Denhaan, Realtor (949) 290-3263. Orange County real estate specialist.

 

Orange County Home Buyer Resources

Determining your home needs

Young couple planning purchase When purchasing a new home, there are many things to consider. How long do you plan to live there? How many bedrooms will you need? Do you need your own yard? Are you close to work? How much house can I afford? There are many questions you will need to answer before beginning your home search. One of the most important questions is "where?"  If you have decided on a certain city or community, make sure you check out the area. Are the local schools good? Is there high crime in the area? What is the estimated resale value of homes? Be sure to determine your commute time to work to determine if it is acceptable. Visit the area to see if this is a community you want to live in.

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?

First time home buyers

Let's also discuss the type of home you might like to buy with you price range. You may have the option of deciding between a detached, single family home, a town home, or a condominium. Each type of home has advantages and disadvantages. Technically, all attached homes are considered condominiums, but to draw a distinction: 

A condo is considered to be a home with attached floors as well as attached walls. In this type of home, someone may own the unit above or below you, as well as owning the unit(s) next to you. With a condominium, you do not own the land under the structure (your home is considered to be 100% space, or structure). This is actually a benefit to investors because 100% of the property qualifies for accelerated depreciation. 

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. 

Home configuration

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:

  • Single family home, price to $400,000, minimum 3 bedrooms, 1,300 square feet, located in Irvine, Mission Viejo, or Lake Forest, view, association pool, newer than 1980. This search is easily loaded into the MLS and can be saved to provide automatic search e-mails for you.

These search items are impractical:

  • Large patio, "upgraded" home, step-in shower, garage storage area, crown molding, granite counters in bathrooms, no one above or below, wood floors in all rooms, association that allows large dogs, walking distance to..., bedroom large enough for king bed, etc. Many of these items are not really searchable and to check if they are included in an individual home, you'll have to review the photos or visit the home. 

Future needs

Plan for future needs You may want to plan for future needs in order to to avoid outgrowing your home too quickly. For example, if you are planning a family, you may want to purchase a home with three or four bedrooms, rather than one two bedrooms like a typical "starter" home. Are you thinking of getting a dog? Buying an upstairs condo with a small patio will not be suitable for the pet. If you are getting on in years (as we all are), you may wish to purchase a single level home instead of a home with three stories. Do you wish to add a pool later when your budget allows? Make sure you get a home with a large enough yard. The point is, you may find a great home that suits you now, but it's also smart to plan for future needs.  

 

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Congratulations on your decision to purchase a home! If you are looking for assistance with your first home purchase, looking to up-size or downsize, or are looking for an investment property, you have come to the right place!  I am a first time homebuyer realtor. Please call me to arrange a consultation with my team. We can help you all phases of your purchase, from showing you your home to referring you to financing.

   Ron Denhaan

Contact me

Ron@rondrealestate.com

BRE# 01728866

Ron Denhaan, Realtor


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