New Mobile Responsive Website

The Mahoney Group is excited to announce the launch of our New mobile responsive website, LuxuryInSantaBarbara.com.
We always endeavor to provide our clients with easy access to up-to-date listings and information that impacts the real estate industry. Whether you are buying or selling a home, our goal is to enable you to make the right decision about one of your largest investments. We encourage you to sign up and enroll on our site, and take advantage of the best online resource for all of your real estate needs from Santa BarbaraMontecito,SummerlandCarpinteriaGoleta, and Hope Ranch.

Our website features the best real estate search for homes, condos, land and foreclosure properties available. It is the only site you will ever need! It is easy-to-use and updated by the official Realtor’s database every 15 minutes, so you can get up-to-date reporting, on what’s going on. You can save searches, and get daily email alerts of new listings, price changes, sold data, and market reports. Our Interactive Map Search allows you to view properties on a map or refine your search by drawing the boundaries around the specific area you are searching for.

If you are curious about what’s happening in your neighborhood, you can easily create a custom market report to see what’s active, under contract, and sold, in all of the areas that you have special interest!
Furthermore, if you are considering selling or refinancing your home you can Get an INSTANT property valuation now! Contact us today to find out how we can be of assistance to you!

This feature rich website has everything you need to help you in your search for local homes for sale in Santa Barbara. Start your advanced search forSanta Barbara real estate now.  Also check out our featured Santa Barbara properties for sale. Have any questions about a listing or real estate in general then contact us by email or simply give us a call.  805-689-0532.

Interested in being notified of the hottest listings to hit the market? Then be sure to sign up for FREE New Listing Email Notifications or a Free Market Analysis and stay informed of new listings as they the hit the Santa Barbara real estate market. Only get listings emailed to you that meet your specific criteria. Sign up today!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Mahoney Group – your local Santa Barbara Real Estate Experts.

Bill Introduced To Help Homeowners Recover From Mudslide Losses

Source: Office of Sen. Jackson

To help residents whose homes were devastated or destroyed in the recent Montecito mudslides, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has just introduced a bill to ensure that fire insurance policies cover losses incurred from fire-induced mudslides.

Senate Bill 917 clarifies that, under current law, an insurance policy covers loss or damage resulting from a landslide if that landslide was attributable to a condition already covered by the policy, such as wildfires.

The bill is designed to help current Montecito homeowners whose home insurance coverage of mudslide losses may be under question following the January 9 event, which killed at least 21 residents, injured many others and destroyed almost 10 percent of Montecito’s homes.

While most residents are required to have property insurance, few had purchased optional flood insurance. The mudslide resulted when significant rains – at one point falling at the rate of a half-inch in five minutes – fell upon a burn scar left by the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in California history.

“We have seen at least one insurance company step up to the plate for these residents following this devastating mudslide, but for others, questions still remain regarding whether their fire insurance policies will cover the losses from these fire-caused mudslides,” said Jackson. “My bill makes it clear that current law requires coverage of these fire-caused events. For many Californians, their home is their nest egg, and the result of a lifetime of hard work. This is a question of justice and fairness for these residents, many of them retirees, and any Californians who find themselves in similar situations.”

A hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

How to Help Montecito Mudslide Victims

Recovery from the Montecito mudslides and debris flows will be a long process, and local residents want to help however they can.

There are ways to donate, volunteer and otherwise support families who have lost loved ones, people who have lost their homes, and the emergency response effort.

Counselors can donate their time by calling the Santa Barbara County call center at 833.688.5551 and asking to speak to the community wellness team, which is gathering a list of volunteers.

The United Way of Santa Barbara County and United Way of Ventura County fundraising effort for Thomas Fire victims has been expanded to include flood victims, the organizations said this week.

All donations to the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund go directly to people impacted by the disasters, they said.

As of this week, about $2.7 million has been raised for the fund.

Donations can be made online here, by texting UWVC to 41444; by calling the Ventura office at 805.485.6288 or Santa Barbara office at 805.965.8591.

People can also send in checks directly, with “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo.

The United Way of Santa Barbara County: 320 E. Gutierrez St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

The United Way of Ventura County: 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003.

Santa Barbara County released a list of verified organizations that are accepting monetary donations and needed items:

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County: Monetary donations, nonperishable foods, and fresh produce are accepted at:

» 4554 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara

» 1525 State St., Ste 100, Santa Barbara

» 490 W. Foster Rd., Santa Maria

The Foodbank also has emergency food distribution sites for people who have been displaced from their homes or are facing economic hardships from lost work after the Thomas Fire and Montecito floods. They need volunteers, too.

Salvation Army: Unopened and canned food and monetary donations are accepted at 423 Chapala St., Santa Barbara.

Unity Shoppe: New clothing, shoes, blankets, toiletries and monetary donations are accepted at 1401 Chapala St., Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Partners in Education places volunteers in local schools, and people can sign up online. Schools and nonprofit organizations can also request volunteers.

In light of recent disasters, the community’s needs are changing, and Partners in Education will need to adapt to meet new requests for volunteer support, Executive Director Chelsea Duffy said in an email message. Contact the organization for more information, at partners@sbceo.org or 805.964.4710 extension 4401.

The United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County says that any children who have been displaced can come to any of its club locations. The clubs are a place for kids to go if their parents are at work and making a longer commute than usual, said Erynn Wanek, vice president of development for the organization.

Monetary donations can also be made to agencies supporting the disaster response for the Montecito Flood, including the American Red Cross and Direct Relief. People can also sign up to volunteer through the Red Cross’ website.

There are several grassroots efforts to collect needed donations for families who have lost their homes or are evacuated, including a Santa Barbara Helpers site connecting families in need directly to people who can help.

Source: https://www.noozhawk.com/article/how_to_help_montecito_mudslide_victims

URGENT NEED! Housing!!

There is an urgent need for immediate housing for those who have been displaced.

For those of you who may have a property that you are considering renting, please let us know and we will happily place your home into the Santa Barbara MLS
Free of Charge.

To view a list of rental properties currently available in the Santa Barbara MLS, please click on the following link.

Santa Barbara & Goleta Rentals

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Santa Barbara Mudslide Resource List: Hotel Discounts, Maps, Tips, Evacuation Centers, Forecast, Updates

Resource List of Services Available & How You Can Help Out & Donate

Santa Barbara hotels are offering special rates to flood victims and evacuees:
The list below displays most of them. Belmond El Encanto is also offering rooms at half price to evacuees.
https://independent.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/news/documents/2018/01/09/2018_-_Storm_Evacuee_Hotel_Special_Rates_Sheet.pdf

At least two companies decided to offer ferry service starting Wednesday: 
Island Packers and the Condor Express will have daily shuttles between the Ventura Harbor and the Santa Barbara Harbor during the Highway 101 closure.

http://islandpackers.com/ventura-santa-barbara-emergency-shuttle-information-page/
http://condorexpress.com/

All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church is being used as a triage center for people with injuries due to the inability of ambulances to access other areas. If you are unable to get out of central Montecito, AMR paramedics are on site and able to provide medical attention. There is a helicopter staging area able to take anyone injured for treatment. There is shelter/restrooms/care. Please make your way SAFELY to the church campus located at 83 Eucalyptus Lane (on the ocean side of San Ysidro).

Boil Water Advisory issued for Montecito, Summerland following storm
MONTECITO, Calif. – A Boil Water Advisory has been issued for the communities of Montecito and Summerland following a devastating storm early Tuesday morning.
The State Water Resources Control Board, along with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Montecito Water District, are telling residents not to drink tap water before bringing it to a boil. Failure to follow the advisory may result in stomach or intestinal illness, officials say.
Boil your water for one minute and let it cool before using:
·         An alternative method of disinfection for residents that are not able to boil their water is to use fresh, unscented, liquid household bleach. To do so, add 8 drops (or 1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of clear water or 16 drops (or 1/4 teaspoon) per gallon of cloudy water, mix thoroughly, and allow it to stand for 30 minutes before using. A chlorine-like taste and odor will result from this disinfection procedure and is an indication that adequate disinfection has taken place.
·         Water disinfection tablets may also be used by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use bottled water if you don’t want to boil your tap water. Boiled or tap water should be used for drinking and food preparation until further notice. Additionally, don’t forget to share that boiled or bottled water with your pet.
http://www.montecitowater.com/

Santa Barbara County Public Works Department has a running list of active road closures here:
http://www.countyofsb.org/pwd/road.sbc

American Red Cross has an evacuation center at Santa Barbara City College. The shelter moved from the campus’ cafeteria to the gymnasium. Address: 721 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Red Cross Responds to California Mudslides
http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Responds-to-California-Mudslides

Santa Barbara County opened a Family Assistance Center Tuesday for people to get help finding friends or family who may have been impacted by the storm. The center at First Presbyterian Church, at 21 E. Constance St., was scheduled to be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. ​​The county has an information line for people to get storm updates, request transportation assistance and talk to a counselor, at 805.681.5542, or by calling 2-1-1.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for alerts from the Aware & Prepare program, and to heed all evacuation orders and warnings.
http://awareandprepare.org/

USEFUL LINKS:

Santa Barbara County mandatory or voluntary evacuation areas

Click here for Santa Barbara County’s interactive map of possible flooding areas

Click here for the latest weather forecast

Click here for real-time rainfall amounts

Click here for road closures in Santa Barbara County

Smaller weather-related outages were also reported in Summerland and Carpinteria areas, according to the Edison Outage Map:
https://www.sce.com/wps/portal/home/outage-center/check-outage-status/

Highway 101 remains closed between Seacliff to the south and the Milpas Street exit to the north. The CHP estimates the closure to last until Monday, perhaps longer. Caltrans has dispatched five front-loading dozers and more than 20 container trucks from San Luis Obispo to clear the way. Earlier efforts were slowed by a broken water main along Olive Mill Road that flooded the freeway already covered by sludge and debris.

DONATIONS: 

THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Call, click or text to give: call 1-800 RED CROSS, visit redcross.org, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

UNITED WAY OF VENTURA and UNITED WAY OF SANTA BARBARA

Donations can be made by texting UWVC to 41444, online at www.vcunitedway.org or calling 805-485-6288. Checks may be sent to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003.

SALVATION ARMY

To donate, go to www.salvationarmysocal.org or call 1 800 SAL ARMY today.

HUMANE SOCIETY OF VENTURA COUNTY

The Humane Society of Ventura County is in desperate need of donations as volunteers continue to house hundreds of animals displaced by the Thomas Fire. The humane society’s Ojai office is in most need as more and more animals come in with nowhere else to go. Cooper says many people have offered to volunteer their time and help out at the station. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the shelter’s volunteer coordinator via email at volunteer@hsvc.org.

For information about making a monetary donation, click here.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FOODBANK

Those wishing to contribute via this link or visit foodbanksbc.org, click “Donate”.

UNITY SHOPPE

The Unity Shoppe is accepting new toys, food, and funds to purchase needed items, at wholesale prices so clients can shop for their needs when they are ready. For more information, visit http://www.unityshoppe.org/.

Storm Evacuation Centers
An evacuation center is open for people affected by this week’s storm. Information released by Santa Barbara and Ventura County officials is as follows:

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Evacuation Center at Santa Barbara City College Campus Center Cafeteria. 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara. Park in Lot 1B, East Campus. Small animals welcomed.

Large animals can be evacuated to Earl Warren Showgrounds. Small animals can be evacuated to Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road. Call County Animal Services at 805-681-4332 for help evacuation animals.

San Roque Pet Hospital is offering free pet boarding for residents that were evacuated or lost their home in the deadly mudslides.

All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church is being used as a triage center for people who are in need medical attention and are unable to get out of the Montecito area.

VENTURA COUNTY

Evacuation Center open at Ventura City College small gymnasium. 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura.

Severe Weather Safety Tips
With the National Weather Service predicting more severe weather, heavy rain, and flash flooding in the Thomas Fire burn areas around Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria, it is now more important than ever to have an emergency plan in place and leave.

The following information comes directly from https://www.ready.gov/floods:

BASIC SAFETY TIPS
·         Turn Around, Don’t Drown! ®
·         Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
·         Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters. Floodwaters can scour foundation material from around the footings and make the bridge unstable.
·         Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
·         If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
·         If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
·         Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.

FLOOD WATCH
Flood Watch = “Be Aware.” Conditions are right for flooding to occur in your area.
Steps to Take
·         Turn on your TV/radio. You will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
·         Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
·         Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
Prepare Your Home
·         Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
·         Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
·         If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.

FLOOD WARNING
Flood Warning = “Take Action!”  Flooding can still happen.
Steps to Take
·         Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground.
·         Evacuate if directed.
·         Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

AFTER A FLOOD
·         Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
·         Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
·         Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.
·         Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
·         Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

WHEN IT IS NOT FLOODING: MAKE A FLOOD PLAN
·         Know your flood risk.
·         Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to get to higher ground, the highest level of a building, or to evacuate.
·         Make a flood emergency plan for the relevant type/s of local flood risk with plans such as evacuation, shelter, locations for high ground.
·         Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a minimum of 3 days of food and water, flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
·         Consider buying flood insurance.
·         Stay tuned to your phone alerts, TV, or radio for weather updates, emergency instructions, or evacuation orders.
For the complete article, go to https://www.ready.gov/floods. Additional information and safety tips can be found at: https://www.ready.gov.

—————————————————

Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Open Floor Plan Still Popular

Open floor plans continue to reign. Eighty-four percent of builders say that in the typical single-family home they build, the kitchen and family room arrangement is at least partially open. Fifty-four percent say it’s completely open, according to responses from a September 2016 National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

“Completely open” essentially means the two areas are combined into the same room. Partially open signifies areas separated by a partial wall, arch, counter, or something less than a full wall.

Seventy percent of recent and prospective home buyers say they prefer a home with either a completely or partially open kitchen-family room arrangement; 32 percent say they prefer the arrangement completely open, according to an NAHB survey.

Only 16 percent of buyers say they want the kitchen and family rooms in separate areas of the house.

As demand continues to increase for open floor plans, homeowners of existing-homes are also looking to open up their kitchen and family room areas. Professional remodelers report that 40 percent of their projects involved making the floor plan more open by removing interior walls, pillars, arches, etc., according to first quarter of 2016 data in the Remodeling Market Index.

Source: “Builders Satisfy Demand for Open Floor Plans,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Jan. 11, 2017)

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

03. Ocean Island View_RESIZED_TO_2000x1335

School is back in session, the holidays are right around the corner, you might not think that now is the best time to sell your house. But with inventory below historic numbers and demand still strong, you could be missing out on a great opportunity for your family.

Here are five reasons why you should consider selling your house this fall: 

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Realtors’ Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market at 4.7-months.

This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this fall.

Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase over the next two years, reaching historic levels by 2017. Last month’s new home sales numbers show that many buyers who have not been able to find their dream home within the existing inventory have turned to new construction to fulfill their needs.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. 

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.3% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

According to Freddie Mac’s latest report, you can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 3.46% right now. Interest rates are projected to increase moderately over the next 12 months. Even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. 

That is what is truly important.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Best Summer Home Renovation Projects

santa-barbara-Modern-Beach-house-loft-style-interior

Summer brings pool parties, ice cream and popsicles, playing in the yard…and renovations. Many homeowners find that some home upgrades are best completed during the warm summer months. The weather is much nicer, contractors have longer daylight hours in which to work, schedules tend to slow down, and labor costs might actually be lower.

Which renovations work best during the summer? Here are some of the most popular ones, ranked from simplest to toughest (or longest).

Small DIY projects

Remember all those little projects on the back burner? Now is the time to tackle them. Everything from staining the deck to installing a new porch railing is fair game. You can do some work in the house too, renovating closets to create more space or creating a study area for the kids. Speaking of the kids, now that they are home for the summer, you can enlist their help in smaller home upgrades that give them a sense of accomplishment.

Painting the house

Whether you are painting inside or outside, summer is the best time to get the job done. When painting outside, summer means you don’t have to deal with spring or winter storms. When you are doing the work inside, you have the advantage of keeping all the windows wide open for the best ventilation and drying. Small jobs can be a do-it-yourself venture, while large projects call for a contractor.

Paving the driveway

Working with asphalt is much easier during the summer months, which is why you so often see contractors working on driveways in the intense heat of the season. The asphalt hardens more slowly, which means a flatter, smoother surface. A good contractor can get the job done in a day; after a few days of curing time, your driveway is ready to use.

Landscaping

If you want to know what your landscaping will really look like, now is the time to set it up. Plants and shrubs need the warm months to become acclimated to their new home. You have the freedom to move flowers around a bit before giving them a final new residence in the yard. Since the ground is easier to dig into during the hotter months, you might also find it easier to install irrigation systems or garden lighting, as well as garden ponds.

In-ground pool installation

This serious home improvement project requires digging through a large part of your yard. Since the job is easier in the summer, you can find a contractor more willing to tackle it. Since it’s faster work, you get your job done sooner, and perhaps you can even enjoy that new pool by the time the hottest dog days roll around.

Kitchen upgrades

During a kitchen renovation, the contractor will kick you out of the space in order to complete the job. So what will you do about eating meals? During the summer months, that is a problem solved by a small refrigerator in another room of the house, a tiny prep area, a few disposable dishes, and a nice grill. Enjoy the great outdoors and have dinner al fresco every night while the kitchen is out of commission.

Adding a home addition

A major home addition requires serious commitment from you and your family. Most home additions take several weeks to several months to complete. During that time, part of your home will be at least somewhat exposed to the elements. No, you (hopefully) won’t deal with rain or wind, but your home will be affected by the outdoor temperatures. You will understandably want this upgrade over as soon as possible, which is another reason why summer is a great time: The days are much longer, meaning that your contractor has more daylight to work on the project.

And that’s not all…

Remember that these projects are just a sampling of home improvements you can do during the summer. Caulking windows, trimming trees, repairing fences or cleaning out gutters are just a few of the other options you have during the long, lazy days of summer. Start your planning early for those long weekends, and enjoy your new renovations before the autumn leaves fly.

—————————————————-

Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

6 Essential Steps to Buying the Right New Home

santa-barbara-infinity-pool

Is it time to buy a new home? Maybe your growing family doesn’t quite fit in your current place – the kids are getting bigger, or there are more of them and they need more room to run around. Maybe you’re in the opposite situation — an empty nester, ready to downsize. Or maybe you’re moving because of your work, or you’re ready for the bit of adventure that can come with heading to a new town.

Whatever the reason, there are a few steps that will make the process easier and help you land the right place for your needs.

1. Check your credit rating

Unless you happen to have a giant pile of money lying around, you’re going to need a mortgage. And one of the first things any lender is going to do is check your credit rating. Lending standards have risen since the go-go days of the early 2000s, so a good score is more important than ever. Higher scores generally mean you are a lower credit risk and should help you qualify for a lower interest rate, meaning less of your money goes to the bank and more to your house.

The highest score is 800. While you don’t need to be perfect — which is extremely rare — a higher score will make getting a mortgage much easier. In a 2013 study, the FDIC found that almost no mortgages were issued to people with a score below 620, so consider that an absolute minimum.

Under federal law, everyone is entitled to a free credit report once per year. This report provides a detailed record of how you’ve managed your credit over time. Click here to start the process for getting yours. If your credit rating is poor, start burnishing it immediately — before you go house hunting.

2. Find a lender and get approved

So, your credit score is in order, now it’s time to head to the bank, or at least a lender. The market is hot now in many parts of the country, and many sellers won’t even talk to a potential buyer who isn’t pre-approved.

Sometimes it can make sense to apply for your loan with the same bank where you have your day-to-day accounts, but an independent mortgage broker can also help you find a good deal by comparing the rates and terms of many lenders. While the interest rate is the biggest single item you’ll be looking at, there are likely to be a host of other fees to watch out for. Once you get that pre-approval, you’ll know how much you can spend.

3. Figure out what you need

Note, you are not ready to start scrolling through the thousands of listing on the Internet, but you soon will be. First, though, get your priorities in order. Make a list of what you really need and what you just really want. Here are some key items to help you get started:

  • Is it important that the public schools are good, or will you send your children to private school or home school them? Keep in mind that even if you won’t be sending kids to the local schools, being near good ones will help when you eventually sell the place.
  • How close do you need to be to a doctor or pharmacy?
  • What does the commute look like from the property? (Don’t forget that commuting costs are a part of living costs. If you buy a cheaper house because it’s farther away, you may end up losing that savings in the extra driving costs.
  • Do you want to be able to walk places? What amenities are within walking distance?
  • What are your personal needs and wants? Don’t be afraid to get into real nitty-gritty details.  If you entertain, maybe a spacious dining room or open-plan kitchen are important. Or maybe you want a southern exposure for your garden.
  • Once you have your list, put it in order of priority. Get used to the idea that some of the things on the bottom of the list may need to be sacrificed. No matter how much you have to spend, you’ll always want a little bit more house than you can afford.

4. Start house shopping, boots on the ground

Flipping through house listings on the Internet is an obvious place to start, but don’t let that be all you do. Especially if you’re new to a town, there’s no substitute for actually being in a place and getting a feeling for it. Breathing the air and walking the streets in different neighborhoods can help you understand why two houses a few blocks away have radically different prices.

Find a good real estate agent and listen to the suggestions they offer based on your wish list. Go to open houses. Lots of them. It can be fun to visit houses outside your price range to give you some perspective (and to see how the other half lives), but spend most of your time looking at houses that are within your range.

After some looking, you may find you need to revisit the priorities you developed in step three. That’s OK. It will be tempting to stretch a little further and buy something just a tiny bit more expensive. Resist this. Don’t buy more than you can afford. And sometimes the things you’re missing may just call for some delayed gratification. If you can’t afford a house with a hot tub, you can always put the spa on your list for later improvements.

5. Make an offer

This part can be tricky. If you’ve looked at enough houses, you’ve probably got a good picture of your particular market and whether a house is correctly priced. Your agent should be able to offer you advice about this and about what sort of offer to make. They’ll also have information about how long the house has been on the market and may have a feeling for how motivated the seller is.

It’s important to listen to your agent, but remember, you’re the one who’s going to have to live there and make payments for the next few decades. It’s your call in the end. Some markets are very tight, and you might get into a bidding war. Don’t let the thrill of winning the war push you over your budget. And whatever you do, make the offer contingent on an inspection. Read on.

6. Get an inspection

Unless you’re a contractor, you probably aren’t trained to look at the house in the same way an inspector is. That odd bulge in the floor could be nothing, or it could mean problems that will end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars to fix. The inspector (your agent will know at least one) will go over the house and hopefully spot all the little defects you missed.

At this point, you may be emotionally invested in the place, but keep your logical side engaged. Be willing to back out if there are too many red flags. It’s tough to pull back when you’re this close to the end, but it’s important to be open to it. And, if you have to make that call, at least you won’t have to start over from step one.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

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Best Home Improvements

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Looking to buy or sell a luxury estate, home, condominium or investment property?

Let me help you find everything you need to know about buying or selling a home. Call or email me today!

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com