What you need to know about buying a home in California

What you need to know about buying a home in California

Cassidy Chansirik
 | 
Buying a home is a life milestone that comes with many responsibilities, and it can seem daunting. This is especially true if you’re a first-time home buyer. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, first-time home buyers made up 33% of all home-buyers in 2019, 88% of whom were 29 years old and younger. 

If you’re a California native looking for a place of your own or just someone looking to relocate to the sunny state, here’s what you need to know about buying a home in California. 

The cost of living for each California city greatly affects the prices of homes.

Before you buy a home, research the cost of living for different cities and make sure they’re within your budget. In California, the city you choose to live in will heavily influence how much your home will cost. For example, in San Francisco, the median family home value is $1.1 million, whereas in Los Angeles, the median family home value is $680,000

Real estate agents can represent a buyer and seller at the same time. 

Unlike other states, it is not illegal for a real estate agent to be a dual agent. This means that a real estate agent can represent a buyer and a seller for the same home. However, under Assembly Bill 1289, dual agents cannot “reveal to either party facts relating to the financial position, motivations, bargaining position, or other personal information that may impact price.” 

When you are searching for an agent to represent you as a home buyer, think about your needs and whether or not a dual agent will protect your best interests. 

Inspections are not required before home purchases, but it’s something you should still look into. 

Even if you’ve found an impeccable home with no signs of exterior damage, there may be issues inside the home. Before finalizing your home purchase, the California Department of Real Estate recommends having a professional inspector check out the home. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, an inspector will look at the home’s heating system, central air-conditioning system, plumbing and electrical systems, insulation, and any visible structures of the home. Once the inspector has finished, you will be provided with a report about any damages or things to look out for. 

If the home is in a natural hazard zone, the seller must provide you with a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement.
California is prone to natural hazards. Depending on where you choose to live, some areas are more prone to natural hazards than others. For example, Northern California has more earthquake fault lines than Southern California. 

If the home you decide to purchase is in a natural hazard zone, the seller is legally obligated to provide you with a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. In the disclosure, you will learn if the home falls into any of the following natural hazard zones: 
  • Flood hazard zone
  • Potential flooding zone
  • Severe fire hazard zone
  • Forest fire risk zone
  • Earthquake fault zone 
  • Seismic hazard zone (for example, landslides)

A good disclosure will also inform you if you’re within a quarter mile of a natural hazard zone. In 2005, homes in Ventura County were destroyed by a massive landslide and none of them were in a state-designated natural hazard zone. 

You may have to pay a Mello Roos tax. 

If the home you’re looking to purchase is designated a Community Facilities District, also known as a Mello Roos district, you will have to pay an additional tax. 

The Mello Roos tax is a special tax that goes towards paying for services and facilities in your community. This can include police and fire protection, recreation program services, and flood and storm protection. The tax is collected yearly with your general property tax bill, and the amount you pay varies depending on the district you live in. 


Buying a home is a complex process that involves lots of paperwork and legal terms. If you are in the process of buying a home and would like a lawyer to read over your paperwork, we can match you with an experienced real estate attorney. 


This article is intended to convey generally used information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are soley those of the author, and not LawChamps
 
Cassidy Chansirik

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