South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding the Right Community to Buy Your New Home In

Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on October 22, 2014

Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding a Family-friendly Community to Buy Your New Home InIf you’re moving to a new city with children, one of your likely considerations is finding a family-friendly community where you can settle in and call home.

In this post we’ll share a handful of tips that you may find helpful if you’re searching for a family-friendly neighborhood in a new city.

Check Out The Quality Of Local Schools

Schools are one of the cornerstones of a community and high-quality schools are a sign that a community is suitable for your family. When you’ve made your short list of communities that you are considering, take some time to research the local elementary or high schools to see how they stack up against other schools in the surrounding area.

You may also want to connect with the school’s principal or dean to ask about the environment and whether or not it would be suitable for your children.

Look Around For Local Churches And Other Community Groups

Great communities are those which are filled with engaged citizens who are actively working to better the area for everyone. When you drive through a community that you’re considering, look around to see if there are churches and other groups that get local residents together on a regular basis.

You may find that these groups make for an excellent welcoming committee who can introduce you to the area and help to get your family settled.

Parks And Other Gathering Spaces Are A Good Sign

Another excellent way to determine if a community is suitable for raising a family is the number of nearby parks and public gathering spaces. You’ll want to ensure that your children have a nice area to run around and play with your family pet, or that you have a nice park in which to have the occasional picnic lunch to spend some quality time together.

When In Doubt: Ask The Locals

If you’re visiting a community or touring through homes, spend some time talking to the locals to hear their thoughts and opinions on how family-friendly the local area is. If you haven’t yet, you should also connect with a local real estate agent who can share the ups and downs of the community you’re thinking about moving to.

Over the past 38 years, I have watched South Orange County grow up.  When I started my real estate career, there was no Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, or Ladera Ranch.  It used to take me 40 minutes to drive from my house in Lake Forest, out to Coto de Caza, where my daughter got tennis lessons.

Today, when a family tells me they want to do a tour of South Orange County, with my 38 years of local experience, I am uniquely qualified among Realtors, to show them the ins and outs of our beautiful area, and I am proud to introduce them to what I consider to be God’s Country – South Orange County, California.

Hopefully, if you’re moving away from our area, you’ll be able to find an agent equally knowledgeable about the community you’re thinking of moving to.  I can help you find such an agent, and would be happy to research the candidates for you.

Follow these tips and trust your instincts, and you’ll be able to find a great new community that makes a perfect home for your family.

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What Are The Closing Costs Of Real Estate?

Home_Buyer_Tips_3You’ve found the perfect property and a great mortgage loan with the best interest rate you can find. What’s next in the   home buying experience? Signing the contracts and paying the closing costs. But what exactly are closing costs?

Here Is A List Of The Most Common Closing Costs:

  • Titling Fees – These include the title search and title insurance fees. In California these costs are usually split by the buyer and the seller but can be negotiated to be paid by either.
  • Recording Fees – The government charges a fee to record the change in ownership of the [city] real estate. This can be paid by either the seller or the buyer.
  • Survey Fee – A survey fee can be required by the lender. It is a fee for the survey of the land or lot, and its   structures, to determine that it matches the property description. Such a fee is rare or even non-existent, in tract home communities, which are the majority of houses in South Orange County.
  • Mortgage Application Fees – Occasionally mortgage application fees are included in the closing costs, but usually are paid prior to closing by the buyer.
  • Appraisal And Inspection Fees – Unless it’s a cash transaction, an appraisal is required by the lender to ensure that the value of the property is equal to that of the loan, and to make sure there aren’t any underlying problems that detract from the property value. These fees are usually paid by the buyer.
  • Points – Points are equal to one percent of the principal of the loan. These discount points can be paid by the buyer to the lender to reduce the final interest rate of the loan.
  • Brokerage Commission – The seller pays the listing real estate agent the brokerage commission fee for listing, showing the property, and handling the contract negotiations. The commission is usually a percentage of the sale price of the property, and determined in advance by the seller and the listing real estate agent.
  • Underwriting Fees – The buyer pays underwriting fees to the lender to pay for the costs of determining if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage loan.
  • Property Tax – County property taxes are usually prorated at the time of closing, with the seller paying his share up to the close, and the buyer prepaying his share, from the close of escrow up to the next tax bill coming out.

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6 Tips For Buying An Older Home

Posted in Existing Home Sales, Home buying, Home How To, Pending Home Sales, Personal Finance, Real estate by southorangecounty on February 5, 2013

Buying older homesOlder Orange County homes sometimes offer more charm and character than the newer houses of today. They boast gabled roofs, crown moldings, hardwood floors and antique fixtures.

Buying an old house is like buying a piece of local history. Its beautiful period features can give it a timeless beauty and grace that is hard to resist.

However, buying a house from another era can be an endeavor fraught with potential problems. Older houses are not necessarily built to the same electrical or plumbing standards of today. Plus, if they have not been maintained correctly through the years, they can turn into a serious money pit or a potential hazard.

Here are six tips to keep in mind if you are considering buying an older home:

  1. Always hire a professional real estate inspector to take a close look at the property. A professional inspector is trained to spot structural damage or issues that might seem minor, but may cause major problems in the future.
  2. Look for signs of moisture damage. Many old houses have problems with moisture because over the years they have settled.
  3. If the old house you are considering has vintage wiring, such as the knob-and-tube technology that was popular around the 1920s and 1930s, plan to completely update the wiring for your safety.
  4. You might need to add insulation. Many older homes don’t have insulation in the walls or attic, which can increase the size of your energy bill.
  5. Be on the look out for iron pipes, which were popular up until 1940. They can become clogged with rust and may need to be replaced.
  6. Have the house tested for asbestos, if it was built before the 1960s.

These are just a few things to which to pay attention out when buying an older home.

Take time to inspect the property thoroughly. With proper attention, you can mix today’s modern technology with your home’s period features to create a combination of charm and safety.

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