Though the process of buying a home is similar across the country, your home buying experience will vary from state to state, and California home buying has its own unique processes and steps. If you’re about to embark on purchasing a home in the state of California for the first time, it’s important to know what to expect. Preparation ensures a smoother journey. Here’s what you should know:
Understanding the California Real Estate Market
There are many things you might be worried about as you embark on your home buying mission, and understanding the market is one of them. The California real estate market, in particular, exists in many extremes and is ever-changing. Predicting future trends is difficult, and even when you find accurate data and can safely track where the market is headed, analyzing the numbers in real-time and deciphering that data into something meaningful is a complex process.
By the time you find an online guide to California’s real estate trends, those trends may already have shifted. This is why it’s so critical to work with a California real estate agent that understands the market. However, you can make some general assumptions based on historical data. For instance, during the California winter season, you’re likely to find more solid deals. However, the state sees the majority of homes listed in the Spring between April and June, so if you’re hoping for a bigger market and more potential to find your dream home, you might choose to start your search early spring.
You May Be Working With Dual Agents
A dual agent is someone who works with both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. In some states, dual agency can result in complicated legal issues because agents are required to offer their clients undivided, unbiased, and loyal attention. This means that they are intended to act in the best interest of their sole client. This could very well be considered a conflict of interest.
Naturally, a dual agent is able to circumvent their fiduciary duties to be solely loyal to you. The state of California allows sellers and buyers to be represented by dual agents, however, agents are always to main confidentiality. In this case, the boy buyer and seller must offer written consent.
While some people may advise you against working with dual agents, finding yourself with one isn’t a terrible situation, and it works out very well for many buyers. What’s important is working with a reputable agent with a verifiable reputation. A solid dual agent will walk a very fine to remain as neutral as possible for both parties.
NHD Reports Are Required
Due to its location, the state of California is prone to many types of natural disasters. Because of this, the state requires sellers to disclose information about how potential disasters could affect the property. This is done with natural hazard disclosure reports (NHDs). An NHD real estate report is an important document that provides crucial information to potential home buyers.
In many areas, such as California, this document is legally required for homeowners. With a natural hazard disclosure, potential buyers and real estate agents can learn more about whether a home is in a hazardous area. For example, if a home was located downstream from a dam—even if it seemed far enough—the report analyzes the impact on a home if something were to happen to that dam. Essentially, it looks at all possible scenarios to determine the worst possible outcome based on various factors.
Meeting the Seller Isn’t Required
Some states require the seller and buyer to meet in person at least once before finalizing the transaction at the closing table. But this isn’t the case in California, where many buyers and sellers are represented by agents, and those agents communicate with one another on behalf of their clients.
In California, many aspects of the home buying process can be completed with one half present, so there is a possibility that you never interact with the owner of the property. Once all the paperwork has been filled out, the keys are delivered to you. While this may seem a bit impersonal, it can make the end-to-end process much more efficient because no steps are delayed by scheduling conflicts.
You Don’t Need an Attorney
Currently, there are 22 states that require a real estate attorney, including New York, Florida, and Virginia. In California, an attorney isn’t required, and the transaction utilizes standard forms and agreements throughout. Your real estate agent will work with you to complete the forms. Although having an attorney review the completed forms isn’t mandatory, many buyers choose to do so. If your transaction is a bit more complex or if you have questions that your real estate agent can’t answer, consider involving a real estate attorney.