29 PALMS

Buying a Home

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From desert cabins to lushly landscaped homes, San Bernardino County boasts a wide variety of housing choices. Visit www. mlslistingpoint.com and select San Bernardino County to access the San Bernardino County Multiple Listing Service, which allows you to search up-to-date information for residential, multi-family and lots/acreage listings.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median selected monthly owner costs for housing units with a mortgage in San Bernardino County is $1,941 and the median gross rent paid is $1,061. Commutes to work are about 29 minutes on average throughout San Bernardino County.

Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. It is important to fully understand your financial status including your credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures.

It is important to consider additional housingrelated expenses associated with buying, such as home owner association fees, property taxes and insurance. According to Ginnie Mae (the Government National Mortgage Association), loan program rules vary on the percentage of your income you can use for housing-related expenses. Most conventional loans allow 28 percent, with an FHA loan at 29 percent and a VA loan at 41 percent. Above all, avoid any advice about “affordable mortgages” from a real estate agent or mortgage lender. Rely on your own budgetary review to determine monthly housing expenses.

Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation. The two main types of mortgages are fixed-rate and adjustable-rate (ARM). A fixedrate loan offers one interest rate for the life of the loan, which means the monthly payment stays the same from year to year. An ARM loan generally starts with a fixed rate, but after the introductory period the rate will adjust periodically based on fluctuations in the interest rate.

The fixed-rate loan offers stability to long-term homeowners. The ARM saves money in the short run, as the initial interest rate is typically lower than a fixed-rate mortgage. Once the initial period ends, however, the ARM rate will rise and fall at predetermined intervals stated in the loan terms, sometimes above the rate for a fixed-rate mortgage. Because of this, an ARM loan favors short-term homeowners. For a thorough explanation of these mortgages, be sure to talk to a lending professional. Applying for a preapproved loan before you begin your search can help you determine your spending limits and alert you to any potential issues you may have in receiving a loan.

After you’ve determined your budgetary restrictions, you can begin your house hunt. First, determine your home preference. Do single-family houses, condos, town homes and duplexes fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new build or existing houses? While new homes generally cost more, it is important to consider the maintenance and renovation costs of older homes. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or in the country? How close do you want to be to work, school, shopping and public transportation? Answers to these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.

The ideal agent will help you find your ideal home and guide you throughout the purchase process. First, interview potential agents to ensure they understand your needs, know your home-buying and neighborhood preferences, and are readily accessible. You can find local real estate agents in the yellow pages of this guide.

Once you have found the right home, it is inspected and your offer is accepted, initiate a purchase contract. This document should detail the final terms for the purchase of your home, including a description of the property, the price, the closing date and an estimate of closing costs. The contract also includes the standard clauses that specify the broker’s commission, inspection results and payment agreements for unforeseen damage, and details of the closing documents.

Closing day ends your home-buying experience.

Once you’ve signed all the documents, paid the closing and secured the keys, you’re officially a home owner. The escrow company, attorney or title company will record the sale with the county.

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