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The California Home Search

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Whether this is your first or fifth time buying a home, there are some important items to consider when moving across town or across country.

First, focus on what you absolutely must have in your home and be flexible about what you could live without. This is especially true if moving to a distant area, as local prices and housing styles may be drastically different from area to area. Don't expect to find what you just had in Colorado in California. You may be sadly disappointed.

Research schools, shops, parks, transportation and police statistics in neighborhoods that interest you. Real estate agents are not allowed to tell you in an area is "good" or not, as that is a buyer's decision. Do your research and decide for yourself.

Know your budget and stick to it. Don't buy a property that is too expensive for you even if the lender believes you can, just to fall into foreclosure a few years down the road when a setback occurs throwing your meager finances into the red. Comfortably buy within your price range to be safe.

Consider roominess now and in the future. Look at floor plan, storage space, appliances, yard size, number of bathroom, immediate maintenance or decorating needs, and your furniture when viewing a home. Will your family be expanding for increased family needs or downsizing when older children move out? Household size is an important factor when choosing a home.

Make sure the home is eligible for insurance, as it may be difficult to get insurance in disaster-prone areas. Check for flood zones, as you may be surprised what California areas are actually considered to be in a flood zone and need the proper coverage. In fact, California homeowners must disclose to potential home buyers natural hazard zones, such as flood or high-risk earthquake or fire zones.

Find out monthly utility bill payments of homes you are interested in. Call the utility companies, give them the address and they will provide you with average bills. Try to get the average over a few years time. This is a crucial factor in deciding if you can afford a home. If the bills seem high and you really like the home, look into ways to make the home more energy efficient.

Determine the age of the furnace or air conditioning systems of any home you are interested in purchasing, which should be on the purchase addeneum known as Transfer Disclosure Statement. A malfunctioning system may be the cost of high utility bills. Look for the Water Heater Statement of Compliance when purchasing, too, to be certain the water heater is up to code. It may also be wise to purchase a home warranty that covers these items should they no longer work.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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