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5 Useful House-Hunting Tips for Those Looking for a New Home in Orange County

Buying a place is a huge investment, especially in OC. Considering the median home value of about $900,000 is a new high for the market, learning some house-hunting tips could prevent you from accidentally making a very big financial mistake. If you need some assistance with the search, the following five tips will allow you to find the place of your dreams a lot more quickly.

Use These 5 House-Hunting Tips in Your Search, and You’ll Never Make a Mistake Again

Are you afraid of accidentally making a purchase that you’re going to regret immediately? Well, you’re not alone. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), almost 60% of all homebuyers in the US think that picking a place is the most challenging step in the entire process. They name this the worst thing on their to-do list, even above paperwork and getting a mortgage.

Wonder why is house-hunting so stressful? For starters, you’re not just buying something easily replaceable as a phone. It only takes a simple miscalculation for you to be financially ruined. Fortunately, the situation is not always so dire. Although you’ll undoubtedly have a lot of things to do before the move, the following tips for house-hunting will help you find the place of your dreams, no matter what your reasons for moving might be.

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#1 Figure Out Your Finances Right Away

Before you can even start looking for a perfect property, you’ll have to assess your financial situation and create a budget first. If you’re unsure where to begin, calculate how much you earn each month and deduct all the living costs, debts, and other expenses from the sum. The number you get is the upper limit of your monthly mortgage, which should give you a better idea of which properties you can afford. After all, most people can’t go out and buy a place just like that, meaning this will ensure the moving expenses don’t overwhelm your entire budget. Remember that the mortgage payment shouldn’t exceed one-third of your after-tax income. If it does, the home is probably above your paygrade.

Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Increase Your Chances of Landing the Place You’re Interested in

Considering how competitive the current housing market can be, it’s best to organize all the important documents and get pre-approved for a mortgage before looking at a single listing. This will show sellers that you’re a serious buyer, as they will immediately know you have the necessary resources to purchase a specific property. Not only will this increase your chances of getting the place of your dreams, but some sellers might even be willing to accept a lower offer. Try to close the deal as soon as possible, though, as mortgage pre-approval usually lasts about 90 days. If you’re interested in learning more about how the process works, check out the video below.

Save Enough Money for the Down Payment in Advance

Unless you already have a large balance in the bank account, be aware that you will likely have to save some money for a down payment. For example, if the million-dollar home you want requires a 5% down payment, you will have to secure $50,000 in advance. Considering the time it takes you to save this much will mostly depend on your annual income, try to put aside at least 10% of it. If you’re earning about $100k a year, this means you’ll have to save at least $10,000 per year for five years. 

Of course, this is much easier if you’re relocating with a family, as the higher median household income should allow you to save up the required resources much more quickly. You can also speed up the process by selling some of your stuff online or through a garage sale. Although deciding what to keep and what to give away might not be easy, selling some large items will undoubtedly bring you a lot closer to your financial goals. For example, instead of moving a piano, sell it to the highest bidder before the relocation. Lastly, booking more affordable movers in Orange County, CA, will save you even more money.

A couple calculating whether they can afford to hire Orange County movers
Buyers in OC will often need to save up a ton of money for a down payment

#2 Identify Your Needs and Wants

Once you have a better idea of what you can afford, try to determine what you want the new home to have. Although finding a perfect place is not easy, knowing your must-haves will allow you to filter out any properties that don’t suit your needs right away. After all, the non-negotiables should be the first things you check when looking through real estate listings. These include things like the number of rooms, square footage, and the price of the place itself. Knowing your nice-to-haves is also a good idea, as they can often help you choose between several similar homes, but they shouldn’t be your primary deciding factors.

A man is satisfied with the Orange County, CA, movers that he hired
How long should you house-hunt? Until you find a place that satisfies all your non-negotiables

#3 Research Potential Neighborhoods Before Picking a Home

Although many buyers usually prefer to just look for properties that suit them, you should actually do the exact opposite and explore neighborhoods that might be a good fit for your needs. This will prevent you from settling on a community just because you’ve got an incredible deal. After all, remember that buying the worst property in the best places to live in OC is still better than getting the most expensive real estate in a bad one. In case you have to move again, there’s an excellent chance that the land value will increase, allowing you to make a significant return on your initial investment.

What to Look for When House-Hunting in a Specific Neighborhood?

While the size of the place will be the first thing most people notice about the listings they are interested in, there are plenty of other things to check about the community itself. Before deciding to go on a more detailed inspection of the place, make sure you look into the:

  • The neighborhood’s overall feel and crime rates,
  • Commute time and public transit availability,
  • Quality of the local schools,
  • Presence of restaurants, shops, and other amenities,
  • Distance to the nearest parks (especially those moving with pets).
 A woman looking to hire some professional movers in Orange County, CA
A good house-hunt checklist should remind you to check all the essential details about the neighborhood

#4 Find a Good Real Estate Agent That Knows the Local Housing Market

Now that you’ve found a few neighborhoods that suit all your wants and needs, it’s finally time to start looking at some listings. While some prefer to search on their own, hiring a good local realtor will help you find all the best properties in the areas they work in. An experienced agent will know all the best buy locations, and their connections enable them to discover even some pre-market listings. Most importantly, they will negotiate and make an offer in your name, allowing you to close the deal on a property much more quickly. Similar to taking a quote from several local movers in Orange County, CA, it’s good to interview at least three realtors before deciding who to hire.

More and More People Prefer to Search for Real Estate Online

Considering the amount of information we all have at our fingertips, it’s not surprising that more and more people choose to search for real estate online. While most people still prefer to work with a professional realtor, more than half of all buyers found their homes over the internet. After all, you only need to get on one of the following websites to start the search:

  • Realtor – The official NAR website is updated every fifteen minutes, providing you with access to over 4 million credible listings.
  • Homes – Besides providing several “how-to” guides, the website allows you to browse the listing based on location, price range, property type, number of bedrooms.
  • ForSaleByOwner – This is another user-friendly platform made for those looking to avoid involving a realtor in the transaction.
  • Zillow – The website uses public data to provide property value estimates, allowing it to feature over 110 million listings across several categories.
A couple looking at a house with a realtor
Buying a place is much easier if you have an excellent real estate agent

#5 Inspect the Homes That Interest You Thoroughly

If you decided to go on the search on your own, you’re probably wondering, “what should I look for when house-hunting?” Although everyone has a unique list of non-negotiables, you’ll want to learn everything there is to know about the place. All the information you gather during the home inspection could potentially allow you to negotiate a better price, which is always a welcomed addition. 

It’s also crucial to take notes, even if you have to move in a hurry. An average buyer sees about ten houses in just as many weeks, so you’ll soon start to forget even the more important details. With that being said, if you’re not sure what to look for, the following house-hunting tips checklist should undoubtedly prove helpful:

  • First things first, you should assess the size and number of rooms and their position throughout the property. This will tell you whether the place can fit all your belongings or if the packing list will have to be trimmed down a bit.
  • While it might seem silly, try to examine the walls, floors, and electric sockets. If they are in worse condition than initially thought, this could help you negotiate the price down a bit.
  • Try to inspect the plumbing before changing your address, as these cost a lot to replace. It’s also important to check the state of the roof and whether the HVAC still works properly.
  • Look for signs of mold and ask the seller’s agent if the place ever had any vermin problems.
  • Check if all the necessary appliances come with the home. If they do, you might not need to spend a ton of time packing electronics.

Don’t Get Carried Away With the Details – Having a Good Kitchen and Basement Is More Important Than a Large Garden

While knowing exactly what you want is very important, don’t dismiss a place because of a few minor details. People often miss a perfect opportunity to close a deal simply because they aren’t ready to compromise and expect the whole place to be entirely up and running from the get-go. Instead of focusing on the flaws, try to focus on the positives and make an offer. Although a place might not have the vast garden you were looking for, it’s much more important that you have a good kitchen, functional bathrooms, and enough storage space to fit everything.

Two people exchanging keys
What should you not do while house-hunting? Try not to be too picky about less important details and simply close the deal

Now That You Know How to House-Hunt, Hire Our Local Orange County Movers to Assist You With the Move

Looking for a new home is not easy, but creating a good house-hunting guide with the tips we mentioned here will make things a lot easier. Once you finally land a place that suits you, start preparing for the move right away. Considering you already went through a ton of moving stress, know that hiring professional movers in Orange County, CA, will help you move more efficiently. If you’re looking for a reliable company that can fulfill all your needs, OC Moving Services is ready to assist you.

Our Orange County, CA movers, offer all sorts of excellent local moving services, from a standard residential move to a more difficult apartment relocation. If you want to avoid boxing up plates and other fragile items, you should also get our professional packing services. Our movers in Orange County, California, also offer commercial moving, enabling you to move a company almost anywhere in the county. To get more information about the best movers in Orange County, CA, just contact us and request a free quote.

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OC Moving Services has professional packers and movers that can help you out.