There is a thrill associated with buying your first apartment that can’t be repeated when you land on your second home. It’s the first solid step you take towards adult life. A realization that you are no longer a drifter without responsibilities. And doing that in a city like Los Angeles can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. In today’s economy, buying an apartment literally means pouring all your savings into a place and plan on living in it a long time. With the sky-high prices in the 5th most expensive city in America (in terms of property), we don’t expect this to be an easy task. So, here’s a guide you can refer to when you go about hunting apartments for the first time.
1. How do you begin
One of the major obstacles in the process of buying your first apartment in Los Angeles is finding the right one. And that’s where real estate agent come in. You don’t necessarily need them, but they do provide a very good filter for your choices. There are too many options out there and choosing one that fits you best can be overwhelming. So, it’s better to start by contacting some real estate agents and then choosing one who is not only experienced but completely in tune with your needs. They also prove to be of great help when it comes to negotiating prices with the sellers and can provide you with some good advice on all the important paperwork you will need to take care of.
2. Choosing a suitable place
If you are not too picky, you should have a lot of options, even within your budget. Most agents will recommend you buy an older apartment to save a lot of money, which you can then go on to use to transform the place into a comfortable and sophisticated living space that is truly your own.
But you must approach this option carefully as it is also known that bidding wars often happen over the cheaper properties, due to which they end up selling at a price much higher than their estimated value. This is something that might go undetected as the apartments are on the open market and many people might take a liking to the one you’re trying to buy. To avoid that, make sure you talk to the seller and don’t completely depend on your agent alone.
3. The extra frosting
Now, when it comes to the types of apartments, you can choose furnished ones or the ones that come unfurnished. We would suggest you go for a furnished one as the cost of furnishing in Burbank, like every other thing here, is very high. A furnished apartment gives you all the basic utilities along with the room to add more. The seller will also offer you a lease contract which you should look into very carefully. You must ensure that the apartment is properly insured and that the insurance covers all the important aspects like fire, theft, plumbing or terrorism etc. Also look into the history of the apartment to make sure it doesn’t have a past that you are not comfortable with. The agent can help you with all of this and more.
4. Some other things to keep in mind
The next thing you must keep in mind when buying your first apartment is, the neighborhood. If you own any pets, you must look through any restrictions the homeowner’s association have established in the area regarding any animal or breed. Always remember to mention your pets as part of the conversations you have with your agent or seller to avoid any nasty surprises.
The practicality of living in a neighborhood is one other thing you need to keep in mind. You must check that the area is close to services that you may require, like medical center, supermarket, restaurants, pet store, grocery store, bus stops, or park etc.
5. Paying for your first apartment
The estimated median price for an apartment in LA as of this March was $585,000. That is if you do not get involved in any bidding war. You’ll have to be prepared for the buyout though. The down payment that most mortgage companies demand is a staggering 20%, which amounts to an average of $116,000. All of which you’ll have to pay upfront. For first time buyers, there is a program called the Federal Housing Authority Loans which can help you if you don’t have enough cash for the down payment. For active service persons and veterans, there’s VA Loans and, for people with mid-level income, there’s Home Possible Mortgages. Don’t fall short on your down payment because the payment for private mortgage insurance will bump up your monthly costs.
Having said that, buying your first apartment in Los Angeles is an experience of a lifetime. It’s up to you to make it good or bad experience. That is why we recommend you to properly assess options, money on hand and make sure you know what you can afford even before you start the search for a house.