Planning Your Move
Relocating to a new home can be stressful, but being prepared and organized can help make your transition a smooth one. First, consider your moving options. Are you hiring a professional moving company, or are you going to do it yourself (DIY)?
.For a DIY move, consider distance, labor and the costs of a moving van rental, insurance, gas and lodging during the move itself. A transportable storage unit can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport, then unload it at your new residence.
Buying Versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home is a long-term emotional and financial commitment, with various pros and cons to consider.
Buying a home can help build equity and allows you the freedom to design and decorate your property and landscaping. Tax benefits are another advantage. Disadvantages include taxes, fluctuating home values and property and landscaping maintenance.
Rental properties, on the other hand, often take care of landscaping and yard maintenance for you. Amenities, such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms and swimming pools vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage to renting a property is the varying restrictions you may face. Some complexes may not allow pets or personal touches, such as painting.
Landlord and property managers also have the right to raise the rent (with proper notice).
To make the decision best for you, review your needs, wants and financial standing. Be sure to research all your housing options thoroughly.
Buying a Home
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.
Renting a Home
Much like purchasing a home, finding suitable rental housing starts with knowing your financial standing and monthly budget. Next, decide what type of rental best fits your needs: a singlefamily home, condo, town home or apartment?
Do you want a roommate? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? Do you want a garage? Do you prefer city life, or would you be more at home in a suburb or in the country?
How close do you want to be to work, schools, shopping or public transportation? What do you consider must-have amenities? Knowing these answers will help you in the next stage — your search for a rental.
Nowadays, most online rental sites feature detailed unit information, photos of the properties and search engines based on price, location and desired amenities. Many websites offer rent specials and are updated to reflect unit availability.
Websites such as www.rent.com and www.apartmentguide.com are good places to begin your search. If you are searching for a house, condo or town home, property management companies and real estate offices may be able to help, as well.
Once you’ve narrowed down your potential rental options, here are a few details to consider:
• Understand the total financial commitment. What are the costs of deposits and application fees? Are any utilities included in the rent? How much is a typical monthly summer and winter utility bill? Will the rent increase when the lease expires? Is a pet deposit required? Be sure to determine the cost of renter’s insurance and the potential impact on your automobile insurance, as these rates are often based on location.
• Interview the management staff or the property’s management company. Are they located on site? How quickly do they respond to issues? Are they making any improvements to the complex or surrounding property?
Ask for references to check their past performance. Was the staff responsive when called? Were there any issues in getting the security deposit back in a timely manner?
• Talk to nearby tenants or potential neighbors. Do they enjoy living there? How is parking for tenants and their guests? How are noise levels inside and outside the units?
• Visit the neighborhood during the times you would usually be home. How is traffic around this area? Note the parking and noise conditions.
• Check with the local law enforcement office to review the neighborhood’s crime rate. • Review any association rules to be sure you can live within its guidelines.
Read the lease carefully before you sign. Do a thorough walkthrough of the residence and note issues with the property on the lease or a separate document. Be sure to have a member of the property management staff sign and date the document to ensure you don’t have to pay for any previous damage.
Make sure the lease specifies the beginning and end of your lease term, the monthly rent rate, when it is due and the amount of any deposits you have made. The lease should also detail the amount of notice you are required to give/ receive before moving out, the condition the unit must be in upon move out and the amount of time the rental company has to return any refundable deposits.
Cities of San Bernardino County
Joshua Tree is home to Joshua Tree National Park — an 800,000-acre wilderness preserve that offers visitors some of the best rock climbing in the world. The city itself encompasses 96 square miles. It is believed the city was named by Mormon pioneers who thought the trees looked like the biblical figure Joshua praying and waving to the heavens. Because the tree does not have growth rings, is difficult to age. Biologists say the trees, which are protected by law, are 500 to 900 years old.
The Joshua Tree Park and Recreation Community Center offers playgrounds, tennis courts, handball courts, a skateboarding park and picnic facilities. The center supports the Joshua Tree Kids Club, an educational and recreational program for children before and after school. The area also has multiple community associations, clubs and a public library.
According to the 2010 Census, 7,414 people reside in the city, with a 67.3 percent homeownership rate.
This desert city is located in the southern Mojave Desert, in the Morongo Basin area of San Bernardino County. Known for its beautiful mountain vistas, wide-open spaces and world-class murals, Twentynine Palms is home to the Marine Corps base. Developed as a homesteading community in the 1920s, Twentynine Palms was incorporated into San Bernardino County on Nov. 23, 1987.
Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation Department operates and maintains many facilities, including parks, playgrounds and a pool.
The department also provides many services and activities for the community’s youth and adults, including various sport programs, concerts and movies in Luckie Park.
According to the 2010 Census, Twentynine Palms has a population of 25,048, with a 38.7 percent homeownership rate. The average commute to work was just more than 14 minutes — almost half the average commute of other Californians.
Located at 3,330 feet above sea level, Yucca Valley is a desert town that occasionally entertains snow. While it was originally occupied by Chemuevi and Serrano Indians, Yucca Valley eventually became a homestead for pioneers.
Surrounded by a wealth of mineral and gold mines, the area that is now Yucca Valley attracted 19th-century prospectors, miners, cattle ranchers and homesteaders. The town was incorporated on Nov. 27, 1991, and since then has experienced significant growth and development.
Yucca Valley residents can enjoy the various museums, parks and restaurants in the area, like the High Desert Nature Museum. The Recreation Division provides residents with the opportunity to engage in a number of activities and events — including sports, arts and crafts classes, dance instruction and more.
According to the 2010 Census, 20,700 people reside in the community, with a 67 percent homeownership rate.
Southern California Edison
Southern California Gas Company
Southwest Gas Corporation
Hi-Desert Water District (Yucca Valley)
Joshua Basin Water District
Twentynine Palms Water District