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A Foolproof Timeline to Help You Buy & Sell Your Home

A Foolproof Timeline to Help You Buy & Sell Your Home

  • Claire O'Connor
Santa Monica, California, is a sunny beachfront town between Los Angeles and Malibu on the Pacific Ocean. Locals refer to it as “The West Side," and many global companies are headquartered there, including the Hulu streaming platform, Xbox Entertainment Studios, Fatburger restaurants, and many well-known international film studios.
About 90,000 people live in Santa Monica’s 16-square-mile footprint, and it’s a year-round tourist hotspot not only for those from other states and countries but also for locals from within the state of California. The world-famous Santa Monica Pier has been in operation since 1909 and boasts an amusement park, snack shacks, an aquarium, and fishing, as well as its iconic Ferris wheel that illuminates the sky at night.
Santa Monica homes are selling at a median home price of $1,598,500. The area is experiencing a seller's market, even though its median home price has dropped from its prior-year high of $1,735,000. A seller's market means that more buyers are searching for homes, but there are fewer available homes available for sale to satisfy the demand. Here’s a rough timeline of how long the buying and selling process could take you. A tip: It could take 15-32 weeks or even longer.

Step 1. Planning to Buy a Home: Three-plus Months

Most people don’t wake up one morning and decide it’s time to move. The decision usually happens over time and can generally be traced back to life-changing events such as a job loss or promotion, a marriage or divorce, a growing family, an empty nest, or retirement. During this time, assess your goals. Are you upsizing or downsizing? How long do you anticipate that change to last; for example, are you downsizing while the kids go off to college but with the mindset that those same kids might come back to live with you when life gets difficult? Is your family growing out of your current smallish house? Additionally, budgeting and forecasting are crucial. How much can you pay on a monthly mortgage? How much will you need to save every month to meet a 20% down payment goal?

Step 2. Selecting a Mortgage Lender: 1-5 Days

Mortgage lenders will help you understand and decide what loans are ideal for your situation, whether you’re buying Santa Monica homes or selling your home in Santa Monica to relocate elsewhere. They will also explain your down payment options and scenarios and help you work on improving your credit score if need be. Most mortgages are conventional, 30-year mortgages and usually feature lower monthly mortgage payments; however, if your credit is less than healthy, you’ll need to consider other options. These include government-backed loans that have more relaxed credit score requirements.

Step 3. Obtaining a Mortgage Pre-approval: 1-5 Days

A mortgage pre-approval shows how much “home” you qualify to purchase, and it’s ideal to obtain a pre-approval even before you start searching for your new home. They usually last 90 days and can be "refreshed" if you take longer to find your dream home. They do not guarantee a mortgage approval or a specific interest rate, but they do help lock in a serious offer on a home and can, many times, not only save time in the bidding process but help a seller single you out over other buyers who are not pre-approved.

Step 4. Hire a Real Estate Agent: 1-14 Days

Ask your friends, family, and co-workers for Realtors® referrals, and make sure you find a buyer’s agent or seller’s agent to handle the transaction—as opposed to a “dual agent” who represents both parties. Why? Dual agents remove the “fair representation” component of a real estate transaction. Take your time to interview several agents and choose the one who understands and respects you. In the referral process, ask your circle what they thought of their interactions with their agents. Did they actually work with the agent, or are they just passing along a name?

Step 5. Shop for Your New Home: 8-12 Weeks

In rare cases, you could find the home of your dreams in one day. In most cases, though, this process can take 2-3 months on average. Hopefully, you'll have previously considered what you and your family need—versus what they want—in a new home, as well as what might be deal-breakers to any transaction. Sharing these points with your Realtors® will help save time, too.

Step 6. Make an Offer: 1-5 Days

Your Realtor® will craft an offer letter once you’ve found your house. Here are the basic components of an offer letter.
  • Contingencies/concessions
  • Deposit amount/down payment/purchase price
  • Seller’s name and address
  • Names on the house title
  • List of all fees and closing costs
  • Closing/move-in dates
  • Offer response deadline

Step 7. Loan Processing and Underwriting: 1-5 Days

Once your offer is accepted, loan processors review your mortgage application for completeness before forwarding it to underwriters, who assess it for inconsistencies in your credit report, credit score, and property details. During this time, you’ll also complete a home appraisal, which is required regardless of whether you’re buying the home, selling it, or refinancing it. The house will undergo an inspection to identify any areas in need of repair and a title search to verify homeownership and who has the right to sell the home, as well as the issuance of a title report ensuring the property can be legally transferred to the buyer.

Step 8. Closing on Your New Home: 3 Days 

As soon as the closing reports are completed, you’ll get a closing disclosure of terms and exact figures so you can review and finalize the loan. You'll also go through a final walk-through to inspect the home and make sure it's in move-in condition. On closing day, buyers and sellers will sign the final paperwork, transfer funds, and exchange the keys.
Local Realtors® are experienced in buying and selling Santa Monica homes. They’re eager to assist you during your journey, so reach out to one like Claire O’Connor now! 

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With ten years of professional experience, we have mastered the art of negotiation through dealings with high-level bureaucrats and diplomats regarding US foreign investments. We bring that required tenacity to real estate negotiations on behalf of our clients.

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