Lifestyles Realty

Home Buyers Guide

Whether your are a First Time Home Buyer or a Move UP Home buyer moving to a new home or downsizing due to an empty nest-  This is a major event in your life!  Remember, Lifestyles Realty is here to help you with all  of your real  estate needs. If you are currently renting here are a few reasons to buy:

Stop Renting!

Reasons Why You Should Stop Renting
1. Rents continue to rise
2. Having no economic security, not knowing how much your rent may go up in the next two to three years.
3. No tax benefits
4. No long term wealth accumulation

In our Preferred Buyer's Program, you will beneifit we offer the following:

  1. Assist with obtaining financing if needed. This is the most important first step toward finding a home..
  2. Prioritize a list of essential features that you need in your next home.
  3. We'll save you valuable time with your search by keeping you updated on current properties that match your search as soon as they come on the market.
  4. Provide information on local neighborhoods.
  5. Help you stay within your budget.
  6. Negotiate on your behalf to obtain best possible price or terms.
  7. Explain items you on purchase contract-Time frames to perform on contingencies for inspections, loan approval, etc.

Because the Real Estate market is so competitive, it is in your best interest to be represented by a Realtor that represents YOU as the buyer, not the seller. The Realtor whose name is on the for sale sign represents the Seller! You need a Buyer's Agent. We will negotiate for YOU, and make sure that everything is in your best interest! .

If you're ready to start house hunting, you can search real estate listings now. To start working with an agent right away, please contact us. I have included the following articles to assist you.

Tips for Home Buyers

For more subjects not covered here or e-mail your questions directly. There is no obligation and I would love to help you!

Nothing can take the place of direct contact so please feel free to contact us either by phone or e-mail with any questions you may have about the community of Irvine, Orange County Real Estate or to schedule an appointment to discuss your real estate plans. Experience Matters!

Providing locally focused- high quality professional real estate services since 1999!

949-275-6544 Or

Distintive Homes to suit your LifeStyle!

Lifestyles Realty

Ca # 01256525
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Why Buy Real Estate?

Home Ownership is still the best deal! Owning a home isn�t for everyone. But if you want to  have long term stability, to give your kids a place to grow and prosper, become part of a community  and build financial wealth, owning your home instead of renting it from someone else should be one of your top priorities in 2013!
Experts say homeownership still offers the greatest benefit to the most people. If you have a down payment in hand-BUY! Even if you do not have a down payment , home-ownership still could be within your reach. In the last year mortgage programs have changed drastically and most no down options have disappeared for now, however there are still low down payment options as  well as adjustable rates, interest only, etc. As long as you have a steady salary, good credit, and few long-term debts, purchasing a home is probably within your reach especially with the new FHA loan programs and the new Higher loan amounts. And by taking things one step at a time, you'll find that buying a home can be a very manageable process. 
Homeownership brings countless benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you're building equity, which is an investment in your family's future. Owning a home can qualify you for tax breaks that actually lower your monthly out-of-pocket costs. The mortgage interest tax deduction and the equity-building boost. Buyers can deduct the interest component of their monthly mortgage payment, subject to an annual limit. Tax deductions may be as much as  80 % of the payments during the first few years, when most money goes toward interest. Equity is worth something. Building equity, in turn lets people accrue money for a larger house  down the road, as well as gain access to funds through home equity loans and lines of credit.  Even with a modest annual increase in the property's value.  Homeownership provides the kind of freedom, stability, and security that is attainable in few other ways. Wealth accumulation through homeownership is the key to financial independence and self-sufficiency.
A home is worth more than money- there's also the heart. 
Most people would still rather own thier own home!

Essential 4 Steps to home buying

I have broken the homebuying process down to four steps.This will insure that we find the BEST home for You. Secure the financing to meet your home buying needs and negotiate the best price order to provide my clients with the best home buying experience

    • Step One: Determine how much home you can afford. Speaking to a mortgage loan specialist to be pre-qualifed for your home loan is the most important ste! The price range of the homes you look at will depend on this.
    • Step Two:Getting Pre-Approved for a loan to purchase a home.After getting pre-qualified, the most important thing you can do is to go ahead with the loan process and get fully pre-approved before you decide or extend an offer on a home. This will give you advantages when you are in the negotiating process.
    • Step Three: Find your new Home! My Unique Buyers Service will assure you will see all the homes for sale that match what you are looking for and not just a few. With my Unique Buyers Profile Service you will receive (via e-mail) all available homes for sale by all companies. You can look at the pictures and details, drive by the neighborhood to see if you like it and then call me to schedule an appointment to view the homes. There is never any pressure to buy!
    • Step Four: Working with a your Professional Real Estate Broker Mary BurkeSpecialized Knowledge-After you find the home you want I will prepare and present the offer to the seller -negotiating the terms and conditions in your best interest. You can be assured you are in good hands with my years of experience andknowledge as a real estate professional

The Escrow Process

The Escrow Process: Your escrow is created shortly after you execute the purchase agreement to sell or buy your home. It cannot be successfuly completed until all escrow instructions have been carried out and all parties have signed escrow documents. The length of escrow can range from a few days to several months, depending on the terms of the purchase agreement. On average, and escrow closes within 45 days.

Opening the Escrow: Either your real estate agent or the sellers agent may open escrow. As soon as you execute the sales agreement, either your agent or yourself will place the initial deposit into an escrow account. At the opening of escrow, you may be asked to provide identification information such as your birth date and social security number. This information remains confidential.

The Loan : Unless the purchase is all cash, the first step will be for you (the buyer) to select a lender and apply for a mortgage loan. Escrow will require contact information of your lender so they may coordinate and expedite the process of closing the escrow.

Now What? : You have made the first step to home ownership but there is still much work to be done! Buyers and Sellers obligations are detailed in your contract so be sure to read through your purchase agreement carefully. Seller will usually provide a termite report but as the buyer you will need to obtain any inspection you and your realtor may deem necessary for complete investigation of property condition. Most important to start with is Home Inspection. There are many reliable inspection companies to choose from. If there are items discovered during the process you may choose to request the home owner to repair or replace items that have been discovered during inspection. Repairs are negotiable-your realtor will guide you. . There are time frames (deadlines) clearly established within the contract to accomplish your purchase so it is very important to read your contract and keep in contact with your realtor to make sure you meet all your obligations and deadlines in a timely manner.

The Closing Process

Signing the Escrow Instructions: Ok, you have made it through the hard part! Now your escrow officer will contact you to make an appointment to sign your loan documents. The escrow officer will tell you the amount of money you'll need (in addition to your loan funds and deposit) to complete your purchase. The amount will include "closing costs" such as appraisal fees, loan fees, escrow charges, advance payment on property taxes and homeowner's insurance, the title insurance premium, etc.

Your Appointment: Before coming to sign escrow papers, make sure you have done the following:

  • Identify all your lenders requirements and make sure you have satisfied them. You loan officer can assist you and answer any questions about this process.
  • Obtain hazard/fire insurance. Once your loan is approved call you escrow officer with the insurance agent's name and telephone number so that he/she can verify that the policy meets your lenders requirements. You must have your policy in place before the lender will send you r loan funds to escrow.
  • Obtain and bring with you a cashier's check issued by a California institution, made payable to the title company indicated to you by the escrow officer. Today, many people choose to wire the money-Make sure you arrange your payment to arrive in time for your closing date.
  • Bring either your valid drivers license or passport to your appointment to that the notary public can verify your identity.

You must decide how you wish to hold title to your new home. We suggest you consult an attorney, tax consultant or other qualified professional.

After your appointment:Once your loan documents are signed, the escrow officer will forward them to the lender for a final review. The review typically occurs within a few days, after which the lender advises the escrow officer that the lender is ready to fund the loan. If all conditions of the escrow have been satisfied, the escrow officer will then inform you of the date of close and will take care of all the technical and financial details.

Close of Escrow: Close of escrow signifies legal transfer of title and occurs when the seller's grant deed to you is filed with the county recorder . The lenders deed of trust records concurrently with the grant deed. Recording usually occurs within one working day after the loan funds are received in escrow. Several weeks after closing , the county recorder's office will mail you the original grant deed.

General categories of loans
Most loans fall into three major categories: fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, and hybrid loans that combine features of both.

  • Fixed-rate mortgages
    As the name implies, a fixed-rate mortgage carries the same interest rate for the life of the loan. Traditionally, fixed-rate mortgages have been the most popular choice among homeowners, because the fixed monthly payment is easy to plan and budget for, and can help protect against inflation. Fixed-rate mortgages are most common in 30-year and 15-year terms, but recently more lenders have begun offering 20-year and 40-year loans.

  • Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM)
    Adjustable-rate mortgages differ from fixed-rate mortgages in that the interest rate and monthly payment can change over the life of the loan. This is because the interest rate for an ARM is tied to an index (such as Treasury Securities) that may rise or fall over time. In order to protect against dramatic increases in the rate, ARM loans usually have caps that limit the rate from rising above a certain amount between adjustments (i.e. no more than 2 percent a year), as well as a ceiling on how much the rate can go up during the life of the loan (i.e. no more than 6 percent). With these protections and low introductory rates, ARM loans have become the most widely accepted alternative to fixed-rate mortgages.

  • Hybrid loans
    Hybrid loans combine features of both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. Typically, a hybrid loan may start with a fixed-rate for a certain length of time, and then later convert to an adjustable-rate mortgage. However, be sure to check with your lender and find out how much the rate may increase after the conversion, as some hybrid loans do not have interest rate caps for the first adjustment period.

Other hybrid loans may start with a fixed interest rate for several years, and then later change to another (usually higher) fixed interest rate for the remainder of the loan term. Lenders frequently charge a lower introductory interest rate for hybrid loans vs. a traditional fixed-rate mortgage, which makes hybrid loans attractive to homeowners who desire the stability of a fixed-rate, but only plan to stay in their properties for a short time.

  • Land Loans
    There usually is only one purpose in getting a land loan and that is to buy the land to eventually build a new home. The only banks that provide land loans are banks that provide construction loans and even some of these banks will not provide land loans. Land loan terms usually range from 2, 5 to 20 year loan periods, amortized over 20 and 30 years. Land loans are also available with interest only options. This can be very beneficial so the land payments are affordable while you are obtaining plans and permits to build your new home. Buying land is like buying a expensive car that you cannot drive. Its very important to realize that a land loan should be thought of as a temporary loan. The land loan will be paid off with the construction loan once you are ready to apply for the construction loan. If you are not planning on building soon then you will want a land loan with a long term balloon payment

Balloon payments
A balloon payment refers to a loan that has a large, final payment due at the end of the loan. For example, there are currently fixed-rate loans which allow homeowners to make payments based on a 30-year loan, even thought the entire balance of the loan may be due (the balloon payment) after 7 years. As with some hybrid loans, balloon loans may be attractive to homeowners who do not plan to stay in their house more than a short period of time.

Time as a factor in your loan choice
As has been discussed, the length of time you plan to own a property may have a strong influence on the type of loan you choose. For example, if you plan to stay in a home for 10 years or longer, a traditional fixed-rate mortgage may be your best bet. But if you plan on owning a home for a very short period (5 years or less), then the low introductory rate of an adjustable-rate mortgage may make the most financial sense. In general, ARMs have the lowest introductory interest rates, followed by hybrid loans, and then traditional fixed-rate mortgages.

FHA and VA loans
U.S. government loan programs such as those of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are designed to promote home ownership for people who might not otherwise be able to qualify for a conventional loan. Both FHA and VA loans have lower qualifying ratios than conventional loans, and often require smaller or no down payments.

Bear in mind, however, that FHA and VA loans are not issued by the government; rather, the loans are made by private lenders but insured by the U.S. government in case the borrower defaults. Remember too, that while any U.S. citizen may apply for a FHA loan, VA loans are only available to veterans or their spouses and certain government employees.

Conventional loans
A conventional loan is simply a loan offered by a traditional private lender. They may be fixed-rate, adjustable, hybrid or other types. While conventional loans may be harder to qualify for than government-backed loans, they often require less paperwork and typically do not have a maximum allowable amount.

Buyers Market-Buy now or wait?

Is now a good time to buy a home? Prices are falling and mortgage rates are still low! However, inventory is also decreasing. Many sellers are waiting out this market if they can affort do. Bank owned and short sales are quickly disappearing in most markets. Banks are increasing thier efforts to avoid foreclosures and this is creating an environment for loan modification agrements with homeowners who want to keep thier homes.

One answer to this question could be : It's a bad time to buy real estate. Prices and mortgage rates might be lower in a few months.

Another answer is: If you find the right house and the right price-BUY IT!

If you are serious about purchasing a home this is the first and final goal. You can't be distracted by market forces outside your control. You will need to decide if you will absolutely shop and negotiate a fair deal or if you will browse listings hoping to stumble on a deal. If purchasing a home is your goal you are more likely to succeed with this approach instead of waiting (possibly in vain) for prices to fall further. You can't predict when houses will hit bottom. You will also run the risk of someone else buying your favorite home while you are waiting.. The experts advise these tips

  • If you find the right home at the right price-buy it!
  • Put technology and a buyers agent to good use
  • Negotiate effectively
  • Avoid gimmicks-such as free tv's, trips, etc.

Remember a house is a home first and this is where you will build your memories. Over the years real estate does experience price fluctuations- increases along with decreases. It is just part of home ownership. Real Estate is still a very sound long term financial investment. The only time people know where the bottom of the market is?-Is when they see it pass them by. As long as we are in a decreasing market it is a good time to negotiate your new home. Historically, when the market corrects it does so very quickly.

Purchase a home that can grow with you and start enjoying the American dream

Should You buy a New or Resale home?

There are advantages and disadvantages to buying both new and resale homes. Here are some of the characteristics that may help you make your choice.

New Home Advantages

  • You may be able to upgrade or choose certain items such as siding, finish materials, flooring, cabinets, plumbing and electrical fixtures.
  • The latest building code, electrical and energy-efficiency standards will apply. Builder warranty is usually available. This can be important if a major system, such as plumbing or heating, breaks down.

Resale Home Advantages

  • It will probably be in an established neighbourhood.
  • Landscaping is usually done and fencing installed.
  • It may have upgrades such as a built-in swimming pool or finished basement.

New Home Disadvantages

  • Neighbourhood amenities, like schools or shopping, may not be complete if the house is in a new development.
  • There may be construction noise and traffic.
  • There may be little to no landscaping or trees.

Resale Home Disadvantages

  • Maintenance costs will likely be higher than for a new house.
  • You may require a professional home inspector to check for structural or other problems, such as a leaky basement or faulty roof.
  • You may need to redecorate, or even renovate.