Question About Buying A Home/Condo In Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Or Westwood Areas

Asked by Ucla4forever, Los Angeles, CA Sun Oct 4, 2009

I am a recent college graduate (early 20's) looking to buy a home in the Beverly Hills or Bel-Air area, or a condo in the Wilshire Corridor area of Los Angeles. I have a full time job with an annual salary of about $300,000 per year. I have very little debt (under $10,000 total) and a savings account with about $100,000. My only problem is I don't know what type of property is better for me.....and what price range I should be looking at. I'm confused between a house or a condo. I'm not sure how the buying process is different between a single family home and a condo unit.

I need some help finding the right property as I would like to buy around December-January. Thanks!

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Henry Nunez, , Los Angeles, CA
Fri Oct 15, 2010
Your biggest problem is you don't have someone you feel you can trust with this BLESSING. At your age, income and debt you should definitely find a home to purchase. Home Owners Association dues are not tax deductible and they can be costly in that area and the level of privacy is much less in a condo than a home. At your age the sacrifice in the size of the house compared to a condo should not be detrimental in fact it's a benefit because you save on furniture, drapes etc. Then when you sell you will be able to make a nicer step up with the appreciation of the house compared to a condo. There has been a higher increase is supply of condos than houses built. It's a no brainer, get yourself a house.
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Verna Helbli…, , Beverly Hills, CA
Thu Oct 14, 2010
The process is basically the same whether you purchase a condo or single family residence.
I think the first step is getting you pre-approved with a mortgage broker to see exactly what you're qualified for and to make sure you meet all bank requirements. Once you find this out, you will also find out what the monthly payment will be. Once you know all of this, it will be much easier to decide whether a house or condo is a better fit for you. Please let me know if you have more questions, I also have an amazing mortgage broker I can refer that can help to get you pre-approved. I'd be happy to assist you both in getting through this process, as well as find you the perfect property for you.

Verna Helbling
Prudential Beverly Hills
310 849 2485
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Alexandra Pa…, Agent, Montebello, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Congratulations on your degree.

The main difference between a home and a condo is the price and the HOA. Sometimes a first time home buyer starts off with a condo, because the price is less than a home making their monthly payment more affordable for them. You must also consider the monthly amount the HOA charges and the amenities received. Some amenities are 24 security, pool, gym, spa, maintenance, each associated may have more or less.

Another difference is that condo's have a set of CC&R's (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) which provide a set of rules that must be followed. Some items that may be covered topics covered are penalties, pets, voting, etc. When you buy a home there is no association and no rules telling you whether pets are allowed or how many parking spots are designated.

If you have any further questions or would like to received listing please let me know.


Alexandra Parra Rivera
Century 21 Realty Masters
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Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Dear UCLA,
There are several things to consider when looking at a home vs condo.
The first will be price. A good way to see this for yourself, would be to take a look at actual listings from the MLS. Feel free to do this from my website at no obligation.(see below)
Once you are familiar with the prices , you can then make an informed decision about what you can purchase.
A Condo is a common first step purchase for home buyers, who will later move up to Single Family home.
Condo's have advantages that homes do not..the reverse is also true. Homes generally appreciate more then Condo's do,however, there are many responsibilities and expenses that go along with home ownership. Homes have more privacy and outdoor open space..this is very appealing to families with children.
Many first time home buyers enjoy the life style that condo's offer( with the security, built in exercise rooms, pools, and other amenities), there is also the community atmosphere which is condusive to making new friends. If you are a social will love the Condo life.
Feel free to email me with any other questions you might have.
Web Reference:
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Michael Rema…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hi Ucla4forever:
Congratulations on deciding to purchase real estate. Properties have become much more affordable and interest rates are still at historic lows. Buying in December or January is also the best time of the year as most people stop actively looking around the holidays, and someone who decides to sell during this time of year is usually more motivated.
Homes in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air tend to be pricier than ones in Westwood or Century City. As far as investing in a condo or a home, it really depends upon your lifestyle and needs. Most of the buildings along the corridor are full service and come with high association fees (not tax deductible) to match. You don't have to worry about maintenance issues and usually have access to a concierge and doorman. Homes on the other hand, do require maintenance, but you are not restricted by a condo association's rules and regulations and you don't have as many noise/nuisance issues as you would in a condo.
Your best bet at this stage of the game is to talk to a lender. They will be able to tell you what you can afford and what makes the most financial sense for you. I work with two lenders---one is a direct lender and the other is a mortgage broker who has a CPA and can explain to you the tax advantages of buying real estate. The next step is to meet with a realtor for a buyer's consultation to really find out what type of property will best meet your needs. My consultations take anywhere from a half hour to an hour and I give you a great book that is specifically designed for first time homebuyers. Please let me know if you are interested in having a consultation---it is free and you do get a lot of useful information.

Michael Remacle
Real Estate Consultant
Keller Williams Realty
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Andrew Jones, Agent, Venice Beach, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009

Everyone has different needs and expectations when it come to buying a home. Condos can be less expensive to buy and less hassle to maintain. In some of the nicer buildings lifestyle can be an added issue when lots of great amenities are thrown in. Condos are also usually the least expensive options in any neighborhood.

This being said, I favor single family homes in most cases. Any property that you buy is an investment as well as a place to live. Houses tend to hold their value better than condos, ownership is fee simple (100% your's,) and maintenance is substatially offset by HOA's which can easily run over $1000 a month for a complex with a lot of features. More importantly, the supply of single family homes is fixed or even possibly decreasing in the inner cities and mid to high-density housing is the future of real estate. When houses are located in mainstream metropolitan areas like the Los Angeles Basin proper, the upside in terms of appreciation can be considerable.

I just took a look and found ten great homes currently on the market in and around Beverly hills for $679k to $899k. Around half are hill homes, some with views. None are short sales. There are also some great options around town for under $600k. You need to strike a balance between creating a lifestyle for yourself and breaking the bank.

I'd be glad to help you in your search for a new home. Please feel free to contact me anytime to look at these listings and get more information. Here's a link to my website. Best of luck.
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Joe Nernberg, , Calabasas, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Dear Bruin,

I am not a Realtor, but I would strongly suggest a condo for a first home. Most of my clients review a home inspection like a deer caught-in-the-headlights. A condo provides common-area maintenance and better security. Some homeowners associations may be under-funded for a new roof or tied up in litigation so poll some other homeowners about their homeowner experience. In general, there are better built condos in Playa Del Rey and Santa Monica.
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BOB Khalsa, Agent, Newhall, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
When you are buying your first home there are going to be a lot of questions and grey areas in your mind. This is where you need to adopt a very cautious approach and you seem to be doing just that.

You are in a strong position as regards your income and more importantly, the debt to income ratio that lenders will use to qualify you for a mortgage. However, just because you have a high income and a high paying ability does not mean that you buy an expensive home and burden yourself with debt. Condos and single family homes dictate different responsibilities on you as a homeowner. The buying process is a little different but you may barely notice it during the purchase process.

The areas you mentioned, while expensive, have properties that are older. The Wilshire corridor does have newer condos but with high monthly association dues. On the other hand, on the west side of the freeway, Brentwood has condos, both brand new and older, close to Brentwood village, either on Sunset Blvd, Barrington or in the area between Sunset and San Vicente. Quite a few have low association dues in the $200-$300 range. It is difficult to recommend a price range without knowing how much space you need. To give you an idea on the price in the area I recently closed escrow on a 3 bedroom brand new town home on Sunset with over 3300 SF at $1.65M. If the recession was not there, this should have been above $2.5M. However, if you are willing to go for older properties and with similar amenities the price could be much lower. In the Wilshire corridor, condo prices have a large range and will depend on the level of upgrade, association amenities, view, parking, etc. You may very well find an attractive condo in the 500-700K range. Bottom line is what is it that you are specifically looking for?

Buying in the December - January period gives you significant advantages as the market typically, is the flattest at that time of the year with sales at low levels. This gives you opportunities at negotiating the purchase price.

Because of your age, and this being your first purchase, it is likely that you will not be holding the property for too long. Hence, remember to think of how well the property would sell down the line when you are contemplating a purchase. Your mortgage too must be such that you benefit from an early sale. In other words, it may not be advisable to pay too many points in buying down the interest rate up front if your holding period is only for a few years. Your agent will explain you how this works.

I would ask you to follow the advice of others on this forum and get an agent. Interview a few before you decide on who should represent you. Lastly, if you are still uncertain, buy in the middle to lower price range in the area that interests you. This will give you an in-built protection in that higher priced properties generally, though not always, take a bigger hit when prices plunge. When the market rises, the properties sitting in the lower and middle tiers attract more buyers due to the increased purchasing power.

Feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

Bob Khalsa
United America Realty
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California H…, , Los Angeles County, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hello UCLA4ever,

How are you?

What type of property is right for you, house or condo? If you like more privacy, gardening, having parties in the backyard, putting around the house and you are good at the upkeep, get a house.

If on the other hand you like to come and go and want someone else to take care of the grounds, the upkeep, you travel a lot, just want to come home and relax, then get a condo. There is less to take care of, though you pay the home owner dues for them to to do the job.

What price range? In your income bracket, you pretty much decide where your comfort level is. However, being your first home, i would suggest to be very conservative.

The rest of the details I think can be answered outside of this forum. If you wish, contact me and I will guide you through the process. With my 20 years experience and being a broker, you can be sure you will be well taken cared of.

Happy home buying !

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Dan Ortega, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hi Ucla4orever,

On paper you sound like a pretty qualified buyer so I'm glad you're trying to take advantage of this market. It sounds like you first have to have a conversation with a lender as to what you qualify for. Right now the condo market is hot and there are deals to be had, but you need to think about condo living and if that's something you're interested in. The buying process is similar between homes and condos but there are differences and a good Realtor will go over the distinction between the both.

You need to ask yourself things like, are you inclined to take care of the upkeep of a SFR or with your lifestyle would it be better to leave that to a Home Owners Ass. Is outdoor space important to you because typically you'll have less space with a condo then a single family home.

If you would like to talk more about weighing the pros and cons please don't hesitate to contact me, I can also put you together with my preferred lender so know exactly what you qualify for and what your monthly payments could be. Either way I would recommend you do this before hand.

I hope I was helpful and I look forward to hearing from you if you would like to begin the process.

Dan Ortega
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Monique and…, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hell Uclaforever,

I am happy to assist you. As a first time buyer with a busy career buying a condo might be your best choice. The process is about the same, however once you get a home into escrow, there are many more inspections you would want to do with a home purchase (foundation,chimmney if applicable and foundation). This isn't done when you purchase a condo usually. The areas you a looking in are pricey for a home. Of them, you still might be able to purchase a home near BelAir in BHPO. The rest of the areas you are probabably looking more towards a condo purchase in your price point. To find out what your pice point is you will need to get pre-qualified for a loan first. I would be happy to give you some recommendations. With a condo, you will also have month HOA (Home Owner Association) dues or HODs. They can be quite high on the Corridor. Expect to pay anywhere from 300 to 1800 per month. You will need to take that into account when making your puchase. The good news is you stayed out of being in to much debt (the great news about an education at UCLA vs other schools). When you are in escrow on a condo you will also want to review the association rules, financials, minutes and also if there is pending litigation and other issues. If you want to explore both options I'd be happy to meet with you. Just let me know and good luck!


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