5 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers Interested in Homes For Sale in Irvine

Written by Posted On Thursday, 05 June 2014 16:43

Yes, first-time home buyers can find homes for sale in Irvine. The great thing about Irvine is that though there are plenty million dollar listings and pricey luxury neighborhoods, the city has a lot of mixed communities with a variety of real estate opportunities.

Let’s just look at a snapshot now of Irvine homes for sale this week. There are 87 properties priced below $500,000. The lowest price is $179,900 for a studio in a track called The Lake in the community of Northwood. The same floor plans can also be found in Orangetree which is one of the most affordable communities in Irvine.

Irvine is not only a beautiful place to live; it’s also a great real estate investment because of the highly rated schools and all of the new businesses and development moving into town. Not to mention as a first-time home buyer you have great move up potential with so many unique and amazing different communities to move into in the future.

I asked Irvine real estate expert Sandi Clark to help me put together the most important tips for first-time home buyers interested in the area. Listen up!


1.     Find a Real Estate Agent and make a plan.

The first thing any homebuyer in any area should do is meet with a real estate agent you trust for a buyer consultation. As a homebuyer you need to have a planfor the next 5-10 years and purchase accordingly.

Sandi says, “When I meet with prospective buyers I ask about their real estate goals so that we can set up the best plan to help them accomplish everything they want. First of all you have to think about how long you want to keep the house. If you only plan to stay 3 years buyers should consider doing a 5/ 1 ARM in terms of financing. If you plan to live in the home for 10 years, buyers are looking at a 30-year fixed mortgage. The point is you need to have a plan and the best way to create one is by talking to a professional.”

A real estate agent can also suggest mortgage professionals – their evaluation of your financial situation and their knowledge of various loan programs will help you determine what you can afford to buy. It will also determine WHERE (Whether it is in an Irvine community or in another city entirely) “You don’t want to set your sights on things you can’t afford, that’s very disappointing. It’s like taking someone into Neiman Marcus when you should be at Macy’s.”

Working with a real estate agent is also beneficial for first-time buyers, especially in Irvine, because agents have access to several different kinds of “hidden inventory”. First-time buyers have a much smaller pool of affordable homes available and agents are the first to know about these condos and townhomes that will get snatched up as soon as they hit the market. Sandi says, “A lot of us agents know about properties that are not yet on the MLS. Right now I know of 2 such properties because people aren’t ready right now but they’re going to be. When I work with a client, I always share these kinds of listings so we can be the first in with an offer.”

First Team also has a unique Sneak Preview® program that allows buyers to view homes for sale listing with other First Team agents online before they hit the MLS. This all helps first-time buyers because it equates to less competition, fewer multiple offers, and a better opportunity to secure a house instead of getting stuck as a continual shopper.


2.     Budget for YOUR lifestyle

Take a look at what you want for your lifestyle and then draw up a budget based on that.  Lifestyle includes travel and vacations, eating out, entertainment like going to the movies, etc. You will need to decide what you can afford each month on mortgage payments, homeowners insurance, property taxes and more based around the lifestyle you want to maintain. That might mean sacrificing square footage for that annual vacation or vice versa.

Sandi also suggests enlisting the help of a tax professional to gain some long term financial clarity. “The best thing to do is sit down and talk with a tax professional about tax deductions. This will help you find out the impact of homeownership on your taxes. It might be more expensive than renting but beneficial in long run when you take into account deductions on your tax for your mortgage payments.”

When considering a move to Irvine other additional costs to budget for include:

  • HOA’s – Almost every community in Irvine has HOA’s and depending on where you settle you could end up paying dues for your condo complex and the greater community.
  • Mello-Roos – Most NEWER communities in Irvine have Mello-Roos taxes. Older communities are more likely to have shorter terms or none at all.


3.     Be ready to buy before you start looking

Sandi advises all of her clients to be ready to buy as soon as they start looking for homes. That means getting pre-approved for a home loan. When you get pre-approved for a loan you will fill out an official home loan application and a lender offers you a specific rate.

“Getting pre-approved before you start looking gives buyers more power once they find the home they want to buy. When you have to compete with multiple offers, you need to do everything you can to make yours the best. Showing sellers that you’re pre-approved and already have the financial backing of a lender is a great way to make your offer standout.”


4.     Look all over Irvine – not just the new areas

The new Villages of Irvine and the places with new construction are going to be much pricier than the older communities. Most new construction in Irvine starts at over $700,000 for single family homes.

As a first-time home buyer you should take a look at NorthwoodEl Camino and Woodbridge to name just a few. University ParkWalnut and the Racquet Club are also good places to look and have a unique character of their own. Don’t eliminate any area until you have seen it!

Orangetree is probably the most affordable community in Irvine. One bedroom condo homes can start in the high $200,000’s and the median sales price for the area is $348,000. The community is primarily condos and townhomes with a few single family detached homes.


5.     Condos and Townhomes are the way to go

(Unless you have a budget over $500,000)

Irvine is a very desirable place to live. With its amazing schools, beautiful master planned community and wide array of businesses moving into town, it’s the premier suburb for families to settle into. That means home prices for that perfect 3 bedroom 2 bath are high. If you’re a first-time buyer and you’re interested in Irvine (let’s face it, who wouldn’t be) then homes in your price range will be condos and townhomes.

Sandi advises buyers to keep long term goals in mind when purchasing condos for sale in Irvine. “If you choose something smaller for your first home then you increase your likelihood of keeping it. If your real estate goals down the road include investing then this affordable place can be just that – an investment property in the future once you’ve moved up to a new home. By purchasing a smaller home you are able to save money because you haven’t spent at the top of your budget, save for another down payment on your next home and set yourself up to keep that first home as an investment. I wish I had the first home I ever bought, I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t keep it.”

Your first home is just that – your first. There’s plenty of time to build equity and move up within any community you choose. The great thing about condos and townhomes too is that nearly every community in Irvine has them so you have tons of choices. You get to enjoy all the great amenities and community atmosphere as a part of the neighborhood.

If you have more questions about homes for sale in Irvine and first-time home buyer opportunities then contact Sandi Clark and her partner Debbie Miller at (949) 400-0987 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set up your own buyer consultation and planning session.

Originally posted at: http://www.firstteam.com/blog/?p=8499

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First Team Real Estate® is the largest independent brokerage in Southern California and voted the #1 Real Estate Company by the OC Register's Best of Orange County in 2011, 2012, and 2013


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