What Should You Pay Attention To When Buying An Apartment in California?

Planning to become a property owner? You are in the right place!

We know how long it takes to go from Google “apartments for sale California” to the moving-in party, so we decided to help you go on that journey ready and informed. In just two years, we have completed over 500 sales processes – and helped each of the 500 customers find the perfect home. That experience helped us compile a list of the most important issues to think about before buying an apartment.

Sit comfortably and let’s start: 

1. How much money do you have?

First and foremost: do you have cash or are you planning to take out a home loan?

If your answer is a housing loan, as most customers do, you need to meet the conditions prescribed by banks (to be employed permanently for more than a year, in a company that has been a taxpayer for more than two years, etc.…), or to be a loan capable.

Housing loans are affordable and similar, but there are still many things to think about: whether to take a loan in euros or dinars, with a fixed, variable or combined interest rate (some banks give a fixed interest rate of 15, and some even up to 20 years), what is the repayment period (average is 30, but there are up to 35 years), do you choose to have the loan secured by NMIC and / or take life insurance, what is the EIR on which the total loan amount depends and , finally, what your monthly installment will be. These are all very important issues, because the loan will be your companion for the next 30 years and its amount will be part of the regular monthly expenses of your household.

Apart from the housing loan itself, there are some other costs that you must take into account when planning the purchase of an apartment.

Participation

When you buy an apartment with a housing loan, you must provide money for participation. The participation is 20% of the total price of the apartment and that price includes the down payment, which obliges the buyer to buy the apartment, and the seller to sell the property to that buyer.

Price difference

When you find an apartment, the bank appraiser estimates the value of the apartment. The amount of the loan that the bank will grant you depends on that estimate. If the apartment is valued at less than the price the seller is asking for, and you are determined to buy it, you must plan how to find additional funds to settle the difference between the price and the loan amount.

You can find out about loans on the banks’ online presentations, comb through real estate forums and talk to friends about their experiences. You can then visit the selected banks to see their specific offer.

If all this seems complicated to you, know that you can count on the help of our sales agents.

2. In which area do you want to live?

The area of California, where the property is located, depends on the price per square foot, but also many other things important for quality of life. While looking for your ideal apartment, pay attention to these things:

Parking – Is there enough parking space in the area? You certainly don’t want to park your car a couple of blocks away from your apartment every day. The solution is to look for a garage that is for sale or rent in addition to the apartment, or to buy an apartment and a garage in a building / settlement under construction.

Infrastructure – A new apartment must meet all the requirements of your family for a comfortable and better life. Be sure to check how far away hypermarkets, shops, markets, kindergartens, schools, parks, health center are. Is the area well connected by public transport? If you are used to going everywhere on foot, and you are not ready for radical changes, it is better not to move below Avala.

Traffic – Are there any bottlenecks that can be a problem when you go to work or come back from it? Are there alternative routes?

Future look – Is a lot being built in the end? Are there plots or old buildings that are potential sites for superstructure and new construction? Try to imagine what the environment of your apartment will look like in a couple of years.

3. Additional investment in the apartment?

If you have an idea about the end of the city you want to live in, you probably have an idea about the type of apartment you want to buy.

Old construction is considered to be of better quality, although that is not always the rule. If you are thinking about old construction, count on additional costs that range from large (complete renovation of the apartment, with replacement of installations, woodwork, etc.) through medium (adaptation of rooms, bathrooms, kitchens) to small (painting, parquet tidying). In the case of old buildings, a big problem can be the impracticality of spatial units and the limited possibility of adaptation – when a large room cannot be divided into two smaller ones due to windows.  

New construction is attractive because there is no investment. Some other advantages are modern construction standards, functional design that dictates that the utilization of space is as high as possible, layout of rooms that corresponds to the modern way of life, energy efficiency, new ways of heating (geothermal, floor with footing), the possibility of buying a garage in the building is new construction more expensive by 20-30%.

We thought of that too. Thanks to the exhaustive information and multimedia presentation of all the apartments on our website, you can see all the details of the apartment so that you know in advance how much investment is still needed. You can also use the floor plan of the apartment to plan furnishing or renovation.

4. Which floor suits you?

The first floor and the ground floor have their charms (especially if they have a terrace-garden), but they are also the biggest “hit” of street noise. The question of security also arises: some tenants do not see anything wrong with the bars on the windows, and some cannot imagine life in such a space.

Most buyers do not even think about buying an apartment in a building that does not have an elevator. And it’s not that they’re wrong. It is not only a question of bringing furniture when moving in, but also the quality of everyday life. Just imagine carrying a bicycle, pram or ceger from the market to the second, third or any floor every day. Maybe you can now, but what will happen in 20 years?

Higher floors, as a rule, mean less noise and a better view, and these are important reasons for some buyers to buy.

Attics are generally cheaper because of the slopes, but that is why many avoid them. It is a common opinion that there is more moisture in the attics, that it is colder in winter, and that it is too hot in summer. But if the insulation in the building is done properly, that should not worry you.

5. Which side are you for?

The orientation of the apartment is, except for the reason of lighting, ie. amounts of daylight, important because of the heating of the apartment. An apartment that has more daylight will have lower heating costs, especially if it is surrounded by heated apartments.

When it comes to the ideal orientation of the apartment, opinions are different. If you want your apartment to be lit most of the day, experts recommend choosing south, southwest or southeast. In case the apartment is oriented east, it will have a wonderful morning light in the summer, and it will be in the shade in the afternoon. An apartment facing west will have a lot of light in the afternoon in summer, and in winter it will be warmer than one facing east. North-facing apartments do not have direct daylight, but if they are of good quality, do not reject them immediately.

In addition to good lighting, the ideal apartment has natural ventilation through the windows in the kitchen and bathroom or at least good ventilation ducts.

What should you pay attention to when buying an apartment

6. Who will guide you through the sale?

You found an apartment that you liked and fit into your budget. You are seriously considering buying it. The calculation has just become ‘real’. Now we come to the beginning of the buying and selling process, in the overcoming of which is the invaluable help of an experienced sales agent from a real estate agency. His task is to guide you through the entire process of buying an apartment, from raising a loan to signing a sales contract. 

The agent will do his best to help you answer the following questions:

  • How much of a housing loan do you need?
  • In which bank and under what conditions can you pick it up?
  • In case of need, do you have enough money for renovation or do you need a dedicated or cash loan?
  • Is there a difference between the advertised and the market price? 
  • Is the owner of the apartment ready to cooperate regarding the price and deadlines for the sale?

7. Is everything okay with the papers? And bills?

In our agency, the documentation of all apartments for sale is checked by sales agents and the legal team. However, life is unpredictable, and people are people, so there are situations when an interested buyer appears faster than the owner managed to collect or ‘arrange’ the documentation. But, don’t let mortgages and notes deter you from buying, everything can be solved with the right advice.

Some of the typical situations are: The apartment you want to buy has a mortgage, because it was bought on credit and partially repaid. Since most apartments in our country are bought on a housing loan, this is a fairly common occurrence. It is solved in one of the ways that are explained in this post.

The apartment you are interested in buying was bought while the seller was married or there are other co-owners. In that case, the written consent of the spouse is necessary for the sale of the apartment, ie. other co-owners.

The seller has some debt (for electricity, water, taxes, etc.). or the accounts accompanying the property are not in his name.

Our agents will instruct you on how the registration of an apartment in the real estate cadastre works, how to transfer utility bills to your name, where the competent services for your municipality are located, and much more.

8. Are you entitled to tax relief?

When buying a property you have to pay two taxes. The first is either value added tax (VAT) or tax on the transfer of absolute rights. If you are buying an apartment from an old building, you will have to pay a tax on the transfer of absolute rights which is 2.5% of the total value of the apartment, however, if this is the first apartment you buy, the law requires you as a buyer to be exempt from that tax.

If you are buying your first property, count on a refund / refund of part of the funds. As the buyer of the first property, you get a refund for an area of ​​up to 40 square feet. If someone else moves in with you, for whom this is also the first real estate (husband, wife, children), you are exempt from taxes for an additional 15 square feet per person. If it is higher, you pay tax only for the difference (square feet of the apartment minus 40 square feet + additional 15 per person = square footage for which you pay).

The second tax is the property tax. The tax return for the payment of property tax is submitted to the department of the Republic Administration of Public Revenues on the territory of the municipality where the real estate is located. The municipality determines the amount of tax, the amount of which is determined on an annual level, and is paid quarterly – quarterly.

10. When will you move into the apartment you bought?

And that’s it – you found an apartment, agreed with the owner, took out a housing loan, it’s time to sign a contract. The date of handover of the apartment should be specified in the purchase contract which is notarized. There is no statutory deadline for the handover of the apartment and it all depends on your agreement with the seller. 

Buying an apartment is an adventure, but it can be completely safe if you prepare well and look at all the possibilities. We hope we have helped you at least a little and encouraged you to go. With the right help, you will quickly and easily find the right apartment for you.

 

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