I want to buy a condo or a loft near my work in Downtown LA but I don't know how to go about the process? no realtor. preapproved for $200t in

Asked by Looking41, Los Angeles, CA Fri Aug 26, 2011


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Jane Peters, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Caroline pretty much covers everything that is happening Downtown. I recently helped a first-time buyer purchase a condo Downtown but we looked at many, many units before we found THE one. There are so many short sales and foreclosures down there that the condition of many of these units leaves a lot to be desired.

Sharon, thank you for your recommendation, I am honored.
Web Reference:  http://www.homejane.com
1 vote
Shel-lee Dav…, Agent, Rolling Hills Estates, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
Buying a loft downtown can be a little tricky. Most of the buildings do not qualify for FHA financing and some don't qualify for any financing, so unless you have at least 20% to put down, you will be limited to the buildings available to you.

Here are the steps I would suggest you take next:
1. Get your pre-approval updated. Things have changes since 2009. Most significantly interest rates have gone down, resulting in an increase in your buying power - even if you income has not changed. Make sure you are working with a lender who can actually deliver on what they promise. Getting a referral from someone you know and trust and who has recently obtained a loan is always a great place to start. If you don't have that luxury, then let me recommend that you call Chris Fenoglio at MetLife Home Loans. He regularly closes loans for my buyers in 30 days or less, including FHA. This beats the big banks who are mostly taking 45 days minimum these days, plus he has great rates and low costs. You can reach him at 562-799-5799 or cfenoglio@metlife.com.
2. Find a Downtown Loft Specialist to work with. They will know the lending requirements on each of the buildings. That way, you won't waste your time looking at properties you cannot buy (some buildings are cash only, some are minimum 20% down, etc). It would be terrible to fall in love with a place and then find out there is no way you can buy it. I would be happy to refer you to one of the best teams in the area. All they sell and list are Downtown Lofts. In fact, they give loft tours to out of area agents on a regular basis. Sometimes I refer to them as the agent's agents, because the are so helpful to other agents and take excellent care of our clients when our clients are looking to buy in the Downtown area. Contact me directly for an introduction.
3. Go have a great time finding you new living space. Downtown LA is a fun place and exciting place to live these days.

Dare to Dream.

Shel-lee Davis, QSC®
Certified Distressed Property Expert – CDPE®
Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource – SFR®
Certified HAFA Specialist – CHS®
SSG Pro®
Your Real Estate Consultant for Life
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty
424-2HELP12 (424-243-5712)
1 vote
Lee Wasser, Agent, West Hollywood, CA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
You do not want to use a realtor, or you just don't have one?
1 vote
Sharon Paxson, Agent, Del Mar, CA
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Jane - you are welcome, you have extensive knowledge of the Los Angeles market, and know you will assist Looking41!
Web Reference:  http://homejane.com
0 votes
Sharon Paxson, Agent, Del Mar, CA
Sat Sep 3, 2011
That is great that you are already pre-approved for a mortgage and that is definitely the first step. I have a recommendation for an agent who knows and lives in the Los Angeles area.

Jane Peters
0 votes
Caroline Choi, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Tue Aug 30, 2011
Yes, Downtown can be a tricky place but as long as you know what your needs and preferences are, as well as a good hyper-local agent with you, you should be good to go. First, what kind of a loan are you pre-approved with? If you're hoping to go FHA, it won't fly Downtown unless you want to restrict yourself to the Mura in the Arts District.

A lot of the buildings in your price point are having issues with the HOA or perhaps are in litigation. If you are putting a substantial down payment down, you may be ok, but this is something you'll want to talk to your lender about. Also, have your HOAs been calculated into your pre-approval amount? A lot of buyers don't realize until later that the HOAs in Downtown tend to run higher on average, and some buildings don't come with deeded parking. These are things to absolutely think about, and maybe you'll walk to work because you'll be living close. Maybe it's not a dealbreaker to you, but it's something you'll have to make a decision on.

However, without any additional information, off the top of my head you might want to check out these buildings: 312 W 5th - Shybary Lofts, 215 W 7th - Bartlett, 420 S San Pedro - Little Tokyo Lofts, 100 S Alameda - Savoy, 738-746 S Los Angeles - Santee Village Lofts <--- this one might be a good one -- Mills Act saves you on your property taxes and developer is offering incentives!
0 votes
David Akram , Agent, Granada Hills, CA
Mon Aug 29, 2011
I would suggest your first step to be to get a Realtor. He/She can guide you through the entire process of home buying.

I have worked in the downtown area for several and would love to discuss your questions about your home purchase and the opportunity to earn your business.

Realtor, DRE# 01891274
Notary, Certified Loan Signing Agent
Century 21 All Moves
Web: http://www.DavidNewHome.com
Blog: http://blog.davidnewhome.com

Contact: http://contactme.davidnewhome.com
Web Reference:  http://www.DavidNewHome.com
0 votes
Paula Samuel, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Mon Aug 29, 2011
Hi Looking41,

Downtown is a great place to buy. I'm a downtown real estate agent. I have been working and living in downtown since 2003 and would be happy to assist you. As many have responded below, downtown has many different neighborhoods with many different vibes. When I work with first time buyers downtown, I like to pick one or two loft units in all the various neighborhoods and do the tour. Typically, by the end of the tour, you'll have a really good idea of what neighborhood you want to be in and you can then narrow it down to specific buildings you like.

DT can be a bit tricky as many of the buildings have pending lawsuits against the developer of the property. It would be in your best interest to work with a downtown agent, like myself or RJ Kas as we are knowledgable about what buildings can't be financed and what buildings can be. In your price range, there is only one building that is a new development, has units under $200,000 and would be a standard sale, meaning you can do conventional financing and close in 30 days. Most of the units listed under $200,000 are going to be short sales or REO's. Both of these types of transactions can be daunting and require patience and a knowledgable agent that has done both short sales and REO's. Financing can also be challenging in these transactions.

Please don't hesitate to call or email me to discuss your potential purchase in fabulous downtown!

Paula Samuel
Downtown LA Realty
(310) 795-1261
0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Mon Aug 29, 2011
Dear Looking41,
The first step since you are already pre approved, is to connect with an Agent who works Downtown. I would recommend you interview Realtors who advertise here...on Truia. A good buyer agent will help you with all the steps needed to purchase.
0 votes
Andi Grant, , Los Angeles, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
Hello, after working downtown for over 20 years before it was hip to live there, I can honestly say I know most of the areas and the loft setups.

First we would need to help you get pre-approved to know what you are comfortable paying including the HOA fees which tend to get pricier the higher the floor in some cases.

Then we'd have to decide what type of loft, building, and area would be a great fit for you.

There are many questions such as do you desire "hard" or "soft" looking lofts?

"Soft" lofts have more of a condo or apartment setup just with better views on the exterior units IMO. Most of the times they are newer, they usually offer more bells and whistles. There tends to be more of this type of loft in South Park and financial districts, 7th - Pico streets, west of Grand Ave and down Wilshire.

"Hard" lofts have more of a raw look with concrete flooring, exposed brick, venting and plumbing, etc. A lot of these can be found east of Grand in the Fashion, Art, Jewelry, Toy districts, etc.

Other touchy questions and their answers are just as important. Such as are you single woman, man, do you have a pet that will need walking, is the building secure, will you be jogging the area, etc. Is the loft you are choosing on a lower floor on the delivery side where you will be awakened by morning delivery trucks at 5am? Where are the major trash facilities in the building due to potentiality for smell and pests in older buildings.

Is there deeded parking (how many #) or waiting list?
How high can anyone build next door to you where you may currently have views? Even flat parking lots are being converted to parking structures to accommodate the influx of new residents. Its imperative to find a great agent that will find out if there is CURRENTLY anything on the building and zoning books as nothing is guaranteed.

What kind of retail or businesses are at the bottom of the building or close by? The patrons will indirectly become your neighbors and part of your downtown living community or a weekly nuisance if it's a club.

There is so much more but I hope that has equipped you with some great info to start with.

If you have not decided yet on a Realtor yet I would be more than happy to help you in your homebuying process. If you have any further questions do not hesitate to call me at 310-508-4354. No pressure and at your pace. :)

Andi Grant
0 votes
www.reosolut…, , Los Angeles, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
PS: I have worked with RJ Cash whoposted below. I don't get anything out of this comment, but I can recommend him as he knows the area and works hard.

We actually had a deal on a great loft but my buyer chose something else. He was very professional throughout and was very honest and forthcoming. Very hard to find these days.
0 votes
www.reosolut…, , Los Angeles, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
#1 Location, Location, Location: First off, get to know downtown, all the different districts, where is the nearest store (Ralphs) and other things that interest you, and deter you, about downtown LA. Then look at lofts in those areas.
#2 Get Ready: Make sure you qualify for the maximum you can afford, you may like a better unit that cost $10,000 more but someone else gets it because you weren't prepared. Once a loft is sold, it is gone. Sometimes these lofts are the only one at your price in the building, when you find something you like, grab it.
#3 Check them out: Look at the different lofts and don't forget the little things like guest parking, Is there going to be nearby construction soon, is the builder in bankruptcy. I would recommend going with a more established complex than a new one with issues. Remember, associations can be nightmares, so ask about that too.
#4 Be aggressive: When you see the property you want, and there is only one, try to find out if there is any negotiating room, if not, even offer over asking. Remember, there is only 1, and if other want it too, it always comes down to price. The person who is most aggressive get the property, the person who is not, loses.

As for an agent, Yes I have worked with a buyer in the area (he was a friend) and we looked at every building we could for about 6 months, then we wound up going back to the barker blocks as the area, price and location fulfilled his needs best. Sorry to say, I don't work with buyer's anymore (unless they're investors).
So find an agent that agrees with these points, who is aggressive, and willing to do all the research on each building. An agent that knows the area is helpful, but not always the hungriest, for me, I prefer the agent that works the hardest for you should get your business and referrals.

Good Luck

0 votes
Dot Chance, Agent, Burbank, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011

You have gotten some excellent answers here. If you have not found a loft specialist yet I have an associate that specializes in downtown lofts. Contact me anfd I will make the introduction!

Dot Chance, Realtor®
Certified Distressed Property Expert – CDPE®
DRE License #01494182
Keller Williams Realty World Media Center

WHEN YOU THINK OF REAL ESTATE...Think DotChance.com! My business thrives from your referrals!
Web Reference:  http://www.DotChance.com
0 votes
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
Not quite sure what you are saying. "no realtor"? Does that mean that you do not have a RE Professional to represent you or that you do not want to use one? Need a little clarification.
0 votes
Richard "RJ"…, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
Hi. I am a known and experienced broker that has specialized in lofts in Downtown LA. I have sold in every building and have worked with most developers. I am an original broker in downtown where there was only 5 of us working here. I can guide you from start to finish in an easy and understandable manner. I would be happy to assist you.
0 votes
Risa Liebster, Agent, Toluca Lake, CA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
Looking41, Downtown is great! Kenya is right, you will probably get a decent response but be sure to interview multiple agents to ensure a good match. Jeff is also correct in indicating that DTLA is comprised of several unique neighborhoods - all which have their own interesting qualities . Yes, you will have to get pre-approved for the here and now, but most reputable Realtors® can suggest a number of qualified loan officers for you to choose from. If you don't have a go-to finance person, start with the Realtor® interviews as once you find a good match for an agent, they will be able to guide you the rest of the way home!

Risa Liebster, Realtor®
Ramsey-Shilling Associates
0 votes
Kenya Reeves…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Next stop: Realtor interviews!
An experienced DTLA agent can help guide you through the loft buying experience. You will get plenty of willing,and able realtors that will respond to this post. Call them all,grill them hard then choose the agent you feel most comfortable with and begin your search.
Id love to chat with you regarding your purchase and see if we might be a fit.
Happy Hunting,
Kenya Costa
Keller Williams Los Feliz/DTLA
323.300.1115 office
323.251.8626 cell
Web Reference:  http://www.thelahomegirl.com
0 votes
Michael Nava, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Feel free to give me a call. I'd be glad to help you. With Rodeo Realty, you get a 1-stop shop: representation and our mortgage, title and escrow affiliates. Good luck!

Michael Nava
Rodeo Realty
Web Reference:  http://www.michaelnavala.com
0 votes
Reny Monk 32…, Agent, Hollywood, FL
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Hi Looking41,

Please give me a call I'll be more than happy to assist you.

I know of many great properties in downtown LA. You are looking at a good time prices have dropped over 14% in one year and the interest rates are ridiculously low.

I was just at a condo building on Los Angeles street today where the unit I ahd to evaluate is a short sale & going for a real bargain.

I would love to walk you through what can often be a daunting process but with expert guidance can be quite painless.

Thank you,

0 votes
Jeffrey White, Agent, Beverly HIlls, CA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Downtown has some great properties both old and new these days! That's great that you have been pre-approved before but you will obviously need to go through that process again with your current financials. The $200k range is near the lower end of the market downtown and may present a few issues depending upon which area and buildings you are interested in. I happen to be very well versed in all the developments in downtown and usually start by giving my clients a tour of the different buildings that have units available in each area. Many people think of downtown as just one neighborhood but there are really about 4-5 neighborhoods within downtown LA that have individual communities with different types of businesses, residents and style.

Please call me anytime and I will be glad to assist!
0 votes
, ,
Fri Aug 26, 2011
You'd begin the same way as you did back in 2009, start out by talking to a few loan officers and get pre-approved so you know what you can qualify for and what the expected payments would be. You should have specific condos or lofts in mind, or at least have a general idea of which condo complexes you'd want to buy in, that way the loan officers you speak with can use reasonable accurate HOA fee amounts and can even make a determination if the condominium project would be approved for most types of financing.
0 votes
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