Moving to LA from Europe to buy land and build home in LA. Just how hard is it going to be?

Asked by Clueless Englander, West Hollywood, CA Sun May 30, 2010

My wife is American I am from the UK. We are thinking of moving to LA. First we'd rent but ultimately we'd like to buy lot/land and build our own home when we have discovered more of the city. Right now we like Echo Park/Silver Lake/Los Feliz and the Hills. How hard is it buying land and building? We have around 175k for land purchase and architect fees but would need to borrow for construction. Obviously the loan will depend on our income which we expect to be 150k /yr (joint). Is this reasonable or are we completely way off the mark here given we will have a very limited American credit history?

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Collen and…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Wed Jun 23, 2010
Hello Clueless Englander! Congratulations on the big step. 175K for land in Echo Park/ Silver lake may be very obtainable as for Los Feliz and in the Hills that might be a bit more difficult. You can find deals up in the hills but the problem is that affordable land is usually at an up sloping direction. To level out the piece of land would cost a fortune plus you can run into problems in the future. 150K a year in joint income is great and I'm sure that you can get a pre-approval but the credit issue might run you into some problems. Another issue due to the credit crunch being the way it has been for the past couple years, it might take a big longer to get one for a construction project. But if you’re looking for in the future like you mentioned underwriters will be more lenient by loosening the credit belt, but also keep in mind prices would have risen from then making a 175k land purchase a bit of a more challenging quest. If you need help with this venture fell free to send me a note. I'm also a certified public accountant (CPA) so we could figure out what we can do to make your purchase and project management more tax friendly to your wallet!

Collen & Ivan
Coldwell Banker Previews International
0 votes
Grant Linsco…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Mon May 31, 2010
Hi Clueless Englander,

I recently helped family friends from Loucester, England purchase land for building their dream estate. It is a great option if you have the cash to purchase the land, hire a great contractor and architect (I have several incredible contacts) and can afford to pay for the construction fees (construction financing is very tough as was mentioned). In the price range you mentioned at the current time and areas you want to live you won't find anything that you'd like or want to build. My suggestion is to rent in the meantime, build up your credit history and then keep your eyes on market opportunities. I'm happy to assist you with all of these.


Grant Linscott
Keller Williams Realty
323.333.6222 cell
0 votes
Tracy & Jos…, Agent, Encino, CA
Sun May 30, 2010
Hello Clueless Englander,
How are you? Where in London are you from? I am English too, from Canons Park and Edgeware area. I tend to agree with the answer Monique gave you. Without established credit to will be very difficult acquiring a loan. However, I do have some wonderful Loan Brokers that I deal with who may be able to assist you. One question I'd like to ask you, is building your home a requirment or are you open to looking at pre-built custom homes? I'd love a chance to chat with you more extensively and perhaps help you with your search. Please call me at the number listed below and we can chat.

Best Wishes,

Tracy Moses
Pinnacle Estate Properties
818-458-3888 Mobile
0 votes
Monique & Joe…, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Sun May 30, 2010
Hello Clueless.

Usually construction on a lot can run $250 dollars per square foot (builders grade ) not including the land/plans and ground work (retaining walls, foundation, caissons, excavation). You best bet is to get a piece of land that already has approvals and some ground work done to it. With that being said an existing project might be your best bet. There is little financing available for construction either. In order to qualify for a loan, I'd have to get more info from you and could connect you to a few lenders to go over your situation.

In the meantime, if you need assistance finding a rental until your ready to purchase, let me know.
Usually lenders want to see about 2 years of credit history (possibly less).

Monique Carrabba
The Carrabba Group
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills
(323) 899-2900
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