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Category Archives: Home Buying Education

30 Home Buying Tips for 30 Years, Part 2

For 30 years, Coastal Housing Partnership has been working to keep home ownership within the reach of local workers. Since 1987, the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit has helped more than 10,000 employees become homeowners through home buying education and savings on home buying costs. The tradition continues for its 30th Anniversary Year with 30 tips to help get you started on your own path to home ownership.

Press Clipping - 30 Home Buying Tips for 30 Years, Part 2

Published in Santa Barbara News-Press House & Home!

“Our work as a partner with local employers helps companies and nonprofits successfully attract and retain employees in a region known for its high cost of housing,” said Corby Gage, Coastal Housing Partnership executive director. “The partnership approach is the foundation of this unique model – we have created a network of hundreds of local real estate professionals, lenders and others who are dedicated to helping local employees become home owners.”

The following 15 tips for potential home buyers are the second set Coastal Housing has released as it celebrates its 30th anniversary. The first 15 tips were published in the August 6th edition of House & Home and can also be viewed below on the blog.  Looking for more advice? Stop by our Home Buying Fair, 5-8 p.m., September 19th at the Deckers Rotunda, 6601 Hollister Ave., Goleta. RSVP today at!

Part Two

    1. Work with a real estate agent
      With so much access to property listings on the internet, it is tempting to think that a buyer doesn’t need an agent. Not so. In a competitive market with multiple offers, having the expertise and advice of a real estate agent can be highly beneficial. The agent should be familiar with the market that you are interested in, help you find a house that meets your needs, recommend how much to offer on the home, negotiate the price and terms of the transaction, and stay involved throughout the term of your escrow – helping you release contingencies and deal with any challenges that arise during the escrow period.
    2. Needs & wish list
      Make a list of what you want in a home – needs, wants and dreams. You may have to compromise on some of the wishes, but not on the needs.
    3. Home Comparison Worksheet
      Make a home comparison grid to help evaluate potential homes.
      Balance your wish list with budget constraints. Take a photo of the homes that you like and label them with the address, so the homes don’t all blur together.
    4. Know the market
      Take the time to research the market, so you feel confident that you are making a wise decision on your home purchase.
    5. Explore the neighborhood at all different times
      Check out the street and the neighborhood at different times during the day and on weekdays, as well as the weekends. What seems like a quiet neighborhood during the day may be quite different at night.  Or there may be plenty of parking on your street on the weekend, but the weekdays might be a different story.
    6. Lead with your head, then your heart
      You want to fall in love with the house you’re going to buy – but don’t let that love blind you to aspects of the home that might not be suitable for you and your family. Be realistic with what you can afford.  This is a big investment and you want to be thinking with your head before reacting with your heart.
    7. Understand your commute
      Before you make an offer on a home, drive to work from the house at your usual commute time to determine what your realistic commute time would be.
    8. Research the schools
      Even if you don’t have children of school age, the quality of the schools can often have an impact on the future marketability and value of your home.
    9. What’s around the home
      Understand the zoning in and around the neighborhood – what could be built that could affect the value of your home.  That open space that you love next to your home may be a new residential or commercial development in the future.
    10. Home inspection contingency
      It is at the buyer’s option to order a home inspection, but it is an important aspect of your transaction. A home inspector evaluates the structural, mechanical, electrical condition of the property you are purchasing.  This report can help you negotiate an adjustment to the purchase price, if necessary, or enable you to get out of the purchase agreement if the report reveals too many physical problems with the house.
    11. Select an escrow company
      Once your offer has been accepted and you sign a purchase agreement, escrow is opened. An escrow company is a neutral third party that works with the buyer, seller, agents, loan officers and other parties to your transaction to coordinate the obligations and paperwork necessary for closing. Your deposit goes into escrow, not to the seller or to one of the agents.
    12. Understanding title insurance
      A title insurance company conducts a title search to make sure that the property is free of any legal claims against it. You will need to buy a title insurance policy that insures your lender for any loss caused by a discrepancy in title to the property. In addition, an Owner’s title policy protects the buyer from title defects.
    13. Obtain the proper home owner’s insurance
      Home owner’s insurance is not only a good idea, but is also required by the lender. Home owner’s insurance protects you and the lender in the event of destruction, damage, theft and liability.
    14. Keep an eye on interest rates and on market values
      After you purchase your home, if you have private mortgage insurance (PMI), make sure to petition to eliminate the mortgage insurance once your loan to value ratio is at 80% (ask your lender the requirements for eliminating mortgage insurance). If you have an adjustable rate mortgage that you are seeking to refinance, keep an eye on interest rates to determine if refinancing is right for you.
    15. Attend a Home Buying Fair!
      A Home Buying Fair is a great way to get the information, tools, and resources to become an informed home buyer.  You will have the opportunity to meet and interview potential members of your home buying team and attend educational sessions by real estate professionals.

    Upcoming Home Buying Fairs:
    Tuesday, September 19 in Goleta
    Saturday, October 28 in Ventura
    For more information, go to

30 Home Buying Tips for 30 Years, Part 1

For 30 years, Coastal Housing Partnership has been making the dream of home ownership possible. The local nonprofit has assisted more than 10,000 local workers become home owners, allowing these talented residents to continue serving the Central Coast. And to help more local employees live where they work, Coastal Housing Partnership is sharing 30 tips to help you start on your own path to home ownership.

article image screenshot

Published in Santa Barbara News-Press House & Home!

“While it is certainly more challenging to purchase a home in our high-priced community, it’s definitely possible,” said Corby Gage, Coastal Housing Partnership Executive Director. “Coastal Housing Partnership is here to help. We provide home buying education and financial assistance benefits to make buying a home more achievable.”

To help potential home buyers, here are the first 15 tips. Look for 15 more next week.  Looking for more advice? Stop by our Home Buying Fair 5-8 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Deckers Rotunda, 6601 Hollister Ave.Goleta. RSVP today at!

Part One

    1. Analyze if buying a home is the right step for you now
      Understand the obligations and benefits of home ownership
      Analyze the pros and cons of renting vs buying
      How will home buying affect your lifestyle?
    2. Determine your goals for buying a home
      What is important to you?  Not having to worry about dealing with a landlord?  Being able to do what you want with your home?  Stability in a community? How long would you be planning to own this property?
    3. Attend a Home Buying Seminar!
      Learn the steps to buying a home from the lending process to working with a real estate agent. Take the time to become a more informed home buyer.
    4. Understand the tax consequences/benefits of owning a home
      Meet with a tax accountant to determine how your income tax obligations will be impacted if you become a home owner and take on a mortgage loan.
    5. Get your credit score in shape
      Establish good credit behavior – pay your bills on time – at least the minimum amount due on every credit card or credit obligation you have each month.   Don’t “max-out” the credit limits on your credit cards.  When you talk to a mortgage lender, ask his/her advice on how to improve your credit.
    6. Get organized
      You will need to provide various documents to the lender in order to get pre- approved including:

      • two previous years of federal tax returns and W2s
      • paycheck stubs for the last 30 days
      • proof of other ongoing income such as pension, social security etc.
      • two months most recent bank and brokerage statements (all pages)

      Of course, your loan officer will let you know what you information he/she needs.

    7. Money for down payment
      Do you have a plan for saving for a down payment?  Will you be borrowing money from your 401k or other retirement account?   Understand the implications of borrowing from your retirement account. Are you receiving a gift from parents or other relative?
    8. Get pre-approved – Find out how much loan you can afford
      Before you start to look at homes, meet with a loan officer to obtain a pre-approval – provided free of charge. Once you determine the amount of your down payment and the amount of loan for which you are approved, you will have a good idea of your price range and can more efficiently begin looking for a home.
    9. Listen to local real estate professionals
      Rather than relying on internet generalities, talk to local real estate professionals about the real estate market and loan requirements and options.
    10. Low down payment Loans
      You don’t need a 20% down payment to purchase a home.  Determine if it makes sense to buy now rather than waiting to save the entire 20% down payment. If you have less than 20%, make that one of the first questions you ask a lender in your initial conversations:  what kinds of low down payment loan programs do you have?
    11. Know different types of loans
      Understand the advantages and disadvantages of loan types – what works for you, your financial situation and your risk tolerance.  Ask your lender about the variety of loan options available in order to select the loan that is right for you.
    12. Understand how a loan is priced
      The interest rate is not the only cost of a mortgage loan.  There are also points and fees – these costs are paid upfront as part of your closing costs.  Ask your lender how much they charge in fees.  Does your loan pricing include point(s)?  A  point is 1% of the loan amount.  Since points are prepaid interest, if you pay point(s), you pay should pay a lower interest rate on your loan.
    13. Mortgage insurance – is this the right strategy for you?
      Typically, if you do not have a 20% down payment, a lender will require you to pay for mortgage insurance.  This adds to your monthly housing expense.  Talk to your lender about your options to determine if it makes sense for you to secure a loan with mortgage insurance, get a piggyback loan or wait until you have saved a larger down payment.
    14. Don’t make any new purchases or open new credit cards
      Opening new lines of credit while in the home buying process will affect your credit score. It may also impact your debt level, which will affect how much loan you can qualify for.
    15. Coastal Housing Partnership Member?
      Check to see if your employer is a member of Coastal Housing Partnership.  If so, you have the ability to significantly reduce your closing costs.  Coastal Housing Partnership, a nonprofit organization, works with a network of service partners (real estate agents, lenders, home inspection firms, residential developers) who offer savings on the cost of their services for employees of member companies.  In addition, Coastal Housing Partnership offers home buying education at no charge to employees of its member companies.

May 14th Home Buying Fair Schedule

The schedule for this year’s home buying fair is live on our website

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When you attend the 5th Annual Home Buying Fair on May 14th 2016, you can also attend our free home buying seminars offered throughout the day!

Learn from local experts who have partnered with Coastal Housing Partnership in our commitment to helping you realize your dream of home ownership. They will help you understand what you need to know – and the questions you should ask – so that you are the strongest home buyer you can be. The information will give you the tools and confidence to compete effectively in today’s real estate market.

Click here to see the schedule:

Coastal Housing Partnership and The Home Buying Fair

Coastal Housing Partnership (CHP) is a full service housing benefit that allows employers to offer buying, refinance & rental benefits to its employees. Watch our video to learn more about us and hear from some of our Employer Members.

Since 1987, Coastal Housing Partnership has helped more than 10,000 employees purchase homes. Over 11,000 employees have attended Coastal Housing Partnership Home Buying Seminars. Our Home Buying Fair brings the tools, resources & information to be a competitive home buyer all under one roof.

The 5th Annual Home Buying Fair is Saturday, May 14, 2016,
from 10am – 3pm at the Ventura Beach Marriott.

To learn more, visit

The Real Estate Home Inspection and Request for Repairs

The following blog post is by Sue Irwin, Realtor. Thank you for your guest post Sue!

The Real Estate Home Inspection and Request for Repairs

The home inspection is a major part of a buyer’s investigations when purchasing a property, and it is the basis for other possible inspections (such as roof, heating system, foundation, geology) that a buyer might decide to do during the period allotted for investigations during escrow. Even if the seller has provided a home inspection, the buyer may want to have their own inspection done.

There are a number of competent home inspectors in our area, and I like to get the inspection ordered as soon as we have an accepted offer. Home inspections cost from $450-$600, paid by the buyer at time of service.

The job of the home inspector is to do a general but thorough inspection of the entire property: the lot, fencing and retaining walls, foundation, exterior and interior of the home, the roof, and any areas under the house. They check that the main appliances are operational, that the main plumbing, heating and electrical systems are safe and operational, and if there are any health and safety issues that might be a problem with the specific property. Home inspectors are “generalists” and may recommend that the buyer get an additional inspection from a specialist if there is a problem with a roof, foundation, etc.

I personally like to be at the inspection the entire time (about 3 hours). Buyers can be there the whole time but often come for the last hour of the inspection, at which time inspector will go over his findings and point out areas of the home that may have problems. Then within a day or two, the inspector emails the buyer and agent a 30- to 50-page report of all the findings, along with photographs of items that may need attention. The inspection report is the buyer’s property, and is not automatically sent to the seller or seller’s agent.

You Have the Home Inspection… What’s Next?

Your home inspection will inevitably point out some problems with the property, even if it is brand new. You can discuss these problems with the inspector at the time of the inspection or by phone later on, and he will let you know as much as he can about them. Most home inspectors have many years of experience, and they know what is truly problematic, what needs common maintenance sooner than later, and what to keep an eye on for future possible maintenance.

You may decide to get further inspections as indicated in the general inspection (most of these are inspections you will pay for), or you may want to get estimates from electricians, contractors, plumbers, and other service providers for the most important issues on the report. The extent of this secondary phase of inspections depends on what is called out on the report and what you decide is important to you after speaking with the general inspector. As an agent I may also recommend that you take the inspector’s advice about further investigations, and I can recommend inspectors or service providers and facilitate getting estimates for repairs.

This information may be only for your benefit if you are truly buying a house in “As Is” condition. Otherwise you will use it as proof of problems when asking the seller to either have a problem fixed or credit you money for repairs. These requests are presented in a signed Request for Repairs document, at which time your agent will most likely send the listing agent a copy of the home inspection and any estimates or further inspections you have received.

Deciding What to Ask For in a Request for Repairs –

and What to Expect from the Seller

What repairs or credits a buyer decides to ask for depends on the extent of the problems with the property, what issues are the most important to them, and how they think the seller might react to the request. Most often a buyer is advised to stick to health and safety items, and damage that could adversely affect the structural integrity of the home over time.

The Request for Repairs process is a negotiation during escrow, and crafting an effective Request for Repairs is an important job of a buyer’s agent. Part of this is learning as much as possible about the personalities and goals of the seller and the seller’s agent before you decide what to ask for. You may have a list a mile long, but it is advisable to get the list pared down to the most important items and be willing to let the small stuff go for the moment. Again, it depends on all the people involved. Even in an “As Is” sale, a buyer may be able to get repairs or credits for maintenance issues if the Request for Repairs is done skillfully.

What can you expect as a response from the seller? Anything from a complete No to a complete Yes! Discuss ahead of time what you hope to get in a response, and what you will do with different levels of response from the seller. If the seller response is not enough to keep you in the sale, you can keep negotiating to try for the response you need. At some point you may have to let the home go and try another property – it may just be too problematic of a property for your budget or your time and abilities.

More often than not, however, a Request for Repairs can be negotiated to everyone’s satisfaction, making you one step closer to closing your escrow and owning your new home!

Sue Irwin is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and a Coastal Housing Partnership member. She can be reached at 805-705-6973.

Your Key To The Santa Barbara Real Estate Market

Ruth-Ann-BoweToday’s guest post is from Ruth Ann Bowe, of Keller Williams Realty Santa Barbara posted on April 29th, 2015.

South Santa Barbara County Real Estate Statistics
Through March 2015

This is an analysis of the Santa Barbara Real Estate market including Carpinteria/Summerland, Montecito, Hope Ranch, downtown Santa Barbara and Goleta through the month of March 2015. For the Home Estate/PUD market sales went way up for the month with about 117 closings from the 58 we saw in February. The Median Sales Price also rose to about $1.2 million up from $1,035,000 at the end of February while the days on the market for sold properties went down to around 54 from the 71 we saw in the previous month. The opened escrows stayed at about the same level from 121 in February to about 118 in March.

The median list price on those escrows went up however to about $1.249 million from $1,050,000 in February. There were approximately 160 new listings that came on the market in March with a median list price of roughly $1.45 million and an average list price of about $2.5 million with the overall inventory rising from about 260 units for sale at the end of February to around 280 at the end of March.

Year over year sales are up about 22% with the median sales price up to roughly $1.15 million for a 12% rise. The average sales price is also up going from just over $1.585 million in 2014 to approximately $2 million in 2015 while the numbers of escrows are up about 29% with the median list price on those escrows up over 11% to $1,175,000.

Looking at the Districts, Carpinteria/Summerland sales are up from 11 to 24 and the median sales price is up from $845,000 to $895,500. The numbers of escrows are also up from 23 to 29 with the median list price on those escrows falling from $865,000 last year to $829,000 this year

For Montecito, sales are up going from 38 to 46 with the median sales price rising from $2,112,500 to $2.86 million. Escrows are also up going from 41 to 53 and the median list price on those escrows is up from $2.795 million to $2.95 million.

East of State St sales are up going from 59 in ’14 to 68 in ’15 and the median sales price is up from $1,225,000 to $1.25 million. The escrows are also up going from 61 to 75 with the median list price on those escrows rising from $1,295,000 last year to $1,349,000 this year.

West of State St sales are up from 48 to 50 but the median sales price is down from $950,000 to $845,000. The numbers of escrows are also up with 49 in ’14 compared to 69 in ’15 and the median list price on those escrows is up from $895,000 last year to $1,055,000 this year.

Hope Ranch sales are up from 7 to 12 but the median sales price is down from $5.105 million to $2.86 million. The numbers of escrows are also up with 8 last year compared to 12 this year. But, the median list price on those escrows is down from $3.85 million in ’14 to $2.89 million in ’15.

Goleta South sales are up with 13 last year and 19 this year but the median sales price is down from $780,000 to $760,000. The numbers of escrows are also up from 15 to 20 with the median list price on those escrows rising from $739,000 to $778,000.

Goleta North sales are up with 31 in ’14 to 36 in ’15 with the median sales price rising from $770,000 to $862,500. The numbers of escrows are also up from 48 to 50 with the median list price on those escrows going from $789,000 to $949,000.

For the Condo segment of the market sales went way up to 56 in March from 27 in February. The median sales price also went up from $542,500 to $587,000 and the numbers of escrows went up from 38 to 68 with the median list price on those escrows rising from $542,000 to about $559,500.

There were about 45 new condo listings that came on the market for the month with a median list price of about $599,000 and an average list price of approximately $686,697. But, unlike the Home Estate/PUD market the overall inventory fell from just about 86 to roughly 65.

Looking at the Districts, Carpinteria/Summerland sales are up from 7 to 24 with the median sales price falling from $527,500 to $475,000. The numbers of escrows are also up from 10 last year to 30 this year but the median list price on those escrows is down from $478,500 to $474,000.

Montecito condo sales are up with 3 in ’14 and 7 in ’15 with the median sales price up from $850,000 to $950,000. The numbers of escrows rose with 5 in ’14 and 10 in ’15 while the median list price on those escrows is up from $950,000 in ’14 to $967,000 in ’15.

East of State St sales are up from 21 to 35 with the median sales price rising from $593,250 to $634,350. The numbers of escrows are also up going from 23 to 48 with the median list price on those escrows falling from $675,000 last year to $575,000 this year.

West of State St sales are up from 16 to 29 with the median sales price up from $607,500 to $618,500. The escrows went from 24 to 32 with the median list price on those escrows going from $644,900 to $699,000.

Goleta South sales are down from 16 to 15 with the median sales price even from $475,000 to $475,000. But the numbers of escrows are up with 15 in ’14 and 21 in ’15 while the median list price on those escrows is down from $537,000 last year to $475,000 this year.

Goleta North sales are down from 14 to 11 with the median sales price up from $429,000 to $497,000. The escrows are also down from 18 to 15 with the median list price on those escrows going up from $429,000 to $489,000.

Through the end of the 1st quarter both sales for the Home Estate/PUD and Condo markets are up compared to 2014 and prices are also up. Approximately 12.8% of the home sales went for over the asking price in March with about 13.4% of the condos. For Homes the percentage of the sales price over the asking price was about 3.1% while for condos it was about 1.7%. On the other side of the coin 23% of the Homes had a price reduction and 36% of the condos went down in price.

Escrows are up for both single-family homes and condos but the second quarter based on escrows looks like it’s stabilizing for homes and based on the inventory perhaps even falling for condos. The median sales price for homes has risen to roughly $1.1 million while the median sales price for condos is up to around $570,000. Listings are still the key for a successful 2015.

In March the inventory for single-family homes rose about 9% to roughly 285 properties for sale while it went down about 20% for condos to approximately 65 units. 2015 has started out strong for sales of homes and condos with the median sales price rising for both segments. The question is whether that momentum will be maintained.

kw-santa-barbaraThank you Ruth Ann for your guest post! You can learn more about Ruth Ann Bowe and Keller Williams Santa Barbara by visiting

Keller Williams is an Exhibitor at our Home Buying Fair on May 9th.