Before you start your Los Angeles home search here are some tips which may make your life easier.
We will of course assume that you have already been pre-approved by a lender, or at least pre-qualified. The next step is to conduct your search, which can be a completely overwhelming process. There are so many sites to use, which one do you pick? Is there a point in using more than one?
There is one main source for listings on the internet and that is the Multiple Listing Service or MLS. When a Realtor® takes a listing from a seller they will enter that listing in the MLS and generally check the box that sends it to syndication for maximum exposure. This is how the modern buying public is able to see almost everything that is available on the market to purchase. But this can also cause confusion.
You find a property on a website and if it is not one of the major portals like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc, you assume that the owner of that site is the listing agent. It generally is not. Like me there are hundreds of agents who subscribe to an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) which feeds the MLS to their sites. But know that the listings which are on my site are exactly the same as the listings on all the other sites, and vice versa. The caveat here is that there is something called “pocket listings” which are homes which the sellers don’t want put out on the general market. It is not impossible that an agent may advertise that listing on their own site, but highly unlikely. So, bottom line, if you stick with one site you will have access to everything available.
Pick your favorite site and stick with it. You will not miss out. You will have access to all MLS listings.
Then start your search in an organized fashion:
- Know your maximum price limit. Just because you are approved for a certain amount does not mean you should pay that much. Be clear about how much you are willing to spend monthly on your PITI (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) and if you are buying a condo, you need to factor in your homeowners dues. This is important, because in a sellers’ market like today in many areas of Los Angeles where homes often receive multiple offers you will want to set you price search limit a little below what you are ultimately willing to pay to give yourself wiggle room to negotiate.
- Research areas in which you are willing to live. You may have more spending power in an area you hadn’t thought of and the broader your area search the more change you have of finding the right home, especially in this low inventory market.
- Decide what you can live without. You may want a view, or a pool, or large backyard, but wants and needs are two different things and compromising on your wants will also open up more opportunity.
- When you see something you like chances are others will too and the old axiom applies, he who hesitates……
Of course when you do find homes you want to see the absolute best way to accomplish that is to call your favorite Realtor®. They may know something about the homes in question and be able to help you narrow down your choices or guide you towards homes you might have missed. It is all about making the home buying process a much smoother one.
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