What to Expect When Home Buying Los Angeles in 2021
Home Buying Steps in Los Angeles, Long Beach
BUYER PROTOCOLS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
[Do not copy content without express written permission by Andi Grant]
Thank you so much for allowing me to be your Realtor® and buyer representative! The home buying process can be overwhelming for most, but I will make every effort to make the process as seamless as possible. If you do not understand a form or a particular stage of the process, do not hesitate to call me at 310-508-4354 and ask me questions until you are confident that you understand.
PAPERWORK AND DOCUMENTATION
Most paperwork requires a fairly quick turnaround time, especially once escrow has opened. Please make every effort to sign all document requests in a timely manner. If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for a free DocuSign® account, an electronic signature program that is free and easy to use in order to receive docs you can legally sign directly from your mobile phone, tablet or home computer in electronic form. This is considered a legal signature. If you should have to leave town, please notify both the lender and myself ahead of time in order that we may get pending docs signed prior to. If a signing deadline occurs while you are out of town, there are plenty of office supply businesses (i.e. Office Max, Staples, Office Depot, etc.) that will allow you to scan and email or send faxes for a minimal fee. Emails are usually the less expensive route. Please make sure to collect originals back from store workers and have them delete and trash docs sent from their system in addition to giving you confirmation reports if faxed.
Regarding lender documentation, please have all financial paperwork organized prior to and maintained in the accordion file pocket provided or some other organized file source. The lender generally requires the last two years of W2s and most recent paycheck stubs. That is the minimum documentation required. In addition to that, please have ready earlier years ready of W2s and add’l paycheck stubs, bank statements, etc. As each new check or statement comes in during the process, print a copy for the file. A job and income verification is usually required, so for the sake of time please create a contact list for yourself of human resource, payroll and supervisor phone numbers to keep handy, ready to submit the info at a moment’s notice if required.
When submitting an offer, there is general documentation required that is assembled and packaged with the offer. The package generally consists of the following:
- Purchase offer documents
- Pre-Approval letter from lender
- FICOs score page (without SS# numbers shown)
- Proof of funds (recent bank statement balance page displaying recent date, bank name, buyer name and last 4 digits of account – the other numbers should be blacked out).
- Copy of good faith deposit check (usually 1% of the purchase price that will be applied towards down payment. Check normally not cashed until offer is accepted. Once accepted cashed within first 24-48 hours).
Purchase Agreement, Home Inspection Reports and Escrow docs will again need to be maintained in an organized fashion. Copies of all docs signed will be provided to you.
WARNING: Do not under any circumstance during this time make any large purchases, incur any new revolving credit accounts, new loan amounts or start any new utility accounts that ask for SS# in the months, weeks or days leading up to purchase until AFTER the close of escrow. For emergencies consult your lender prior to. This can and most likely will affect your FICO score and possibly your loan. There is a re-running of your credit just before close of escrow to make sure there have been no significant changes that could affect your loan or ability to pay the loan back. The Best Buy or Nordstrom account you opened 2 months ago is now showing and could drop your score while you have a good faith deposit on the line.
OPEN HOUSE/FOR SALE SIGN PROTOCOL
Open houses are irresistible when house-hunting! But please take extra care if ever attending an open house unescorted by me. PLEASE remember that it is the sole purpose of the open house agent to get information from you the buyer to either recruit you or ascertain as much information from you for their client if you were to submit an offer. NOTE: Even if you may not be interested in that particular home, the agent could very well be the listing agent for the home you are interested in submitting an offer on. You could lose all leverage when giving too much information (i.e. pre-approval amounts, personal circumstances, move deadlines, etc). Try to keep the dialogue to a surface minimum, even if they bring up your favorite sports team, compliment your outfit or tell you how cute your kids are. :) Be warm and friendly, but vague. If the open house agent insists you sign his/her registration book or iPad app registration, tell them you are already working with an agent. If they insist for purposes of showing the seller the number of guests, sign your name but write my phone number 310-508-4354 and in the note section add “working with agent.” Feel free to leave them my business card if you have one handy.
The same thing applies for “For Sale” lawn signs. The name of the listing agent and brokerage office on the sign is a person already contracted to the seller to get the highest and best offer and highest net proceeds. The same motives of an open house agent applies even more so in this case. Get the phone number and address (street name/cross street if address isn’t available) and send me a text or call me at 310-508-4354 and I will get you the information needed to possibly view.
SCHEDULED MEETUPS AND APPOINTMENTS
Both buyer and agent need to be respectful of each other’s time and use common courtesy. If either side is going to be more than 10 minutes late, please notify the other via phone call or text as a gesture of consideration and respect for the other person’s time. Each side will also need to demonstrate reasonable flexibility when it comes to expecting the other to drop what he/she is doing to immediately talk to/show/view a home. I will allow for late showings or signing appointments to accommodate random late work schedules when applicable. My contact hours are 8am – 8pm which is a 12 hour window of time in which to reach me. I am more than happy to take your calls then. Calls made before of after the above stated timeframe will be returned in the order received during the start of next business hours.
HELPFUL FRIENDS AND ADVISORS
When buying a home, especially first-time home buyers, you will have many friends, family and co-workers offering advice. I welcome buyers doing their homework and due-diligence. However, unless the outside counsel has purchased a home recently in your same market, and is familiar with recent home sales and seen the condition of said homes that have sold in your desired area, they can sometimes do more harm than help. Example: A person hearing they should submit a low offer or ask for a lot of seller demands upfront for a home because a friend told them to or some financial advisor on television suggested this, will most likely shoot themselves in the foot so to speak, if the home they are making an offer on is 1) a home that is in a multiple offer situation 2) in a highly desirable area that rarely has openings 3), is in an excellent school district, 4) an area that has had a recent confirmed development announcement that will make it much more desirable in the very near future, among many other things. Please feel free to seek out advice, but also apply logic to your specific scenario, market and circumstance when receiving and applying it.
AFTER ESCROW OPENS
Escrow is not a one-size fits all. There are many variables and situations that can and will occur to make your escrow uniquely different. So another person’s escrow is not going to look like yours, neither yours like theirs. Below is a general idea of the order in which the process usually occurs after offer has been accepted and all parties notified.
- Good faith deposit check will be turned into escrow company after offer is accepted and CASHED. Please have funds in account ready to clear.
- Buyer inspections (physical home and termite) and appraisals will immediately be scheduled within 7 days of acceptance in order to get the results back within the deadline contingency time (generally 17 days). Within this 17 day contingency time, the buyer can opt to back out should anything detrimental be found in the reports or buyer’s situation changes. NOTE: Home inspection reports have to be paid by buyer same day as inspection. Depending on the size of house, raised or flat foundation, standing attics, etc. it can range from $300 - $500.Termite inspections are usually free but in some instances if the report is made for informational purposes only and they are not going to be used, they may require a $75 - $100 fee to be paid upfront, others may apply fee to termite work completed. Although attendance during physical home inspection is optional for the buyer, it is highly encouraged.
- Seller Disclosures are to be produced to buyer within 7 days of opening escrow for review. Disclosures detail firsthand insights, known defects or issues known by seller at the time. REO or bank-owned foreclosures or recent investor flips are usually exempt from most sections of the seller disclosure forms having not lived on the premises.
- Escrow Instructions will need to be signed by the buyers. You will need to determine how you will hold title i.e. joint tenancy, tenants in common, sole individual, etc. I cannot advise you on how to hold title. Please review the title vesting options sheet contained in the instruction packet and seek legal advice if the answer is not obvious.
- Buyer Walk-Thru is scheduled prior to close of escrow to determine if and what repairs were completed per any agreement in the Buyer Repair Request. I encourage buyers to have original home inspector perform re-inspection for small $100-$150 if there were repairs needed in limited access areas (attic, crawl space, etc.) or items that wouldn’t be noticed by the untrained eye.
- Lender will notify all parties as to when he/she has received loan approval and loan docs. This usually happens towards the latter part of the escrow. Buyer will then schedule appointment to sign loan documents at the escrow company and will need to have down payment monies ready to wire or produce. More details will be provided on this process further into the escrow process.
- The best scenario within 2 days of signing loan docs:
1) The loan funds
2) Deed is recorded
AFTER ESCROW CLOSES
3) Escrow closes