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Posted by Yvonne Hefner on Jun 1, 2003 - 10:00:00 PM

LOS ANGELESDuring the month of May in Canyon News territory, approximately 242 single-family homes were listed for sale and approximately 708 closed escrow during this time period. Also, during this time there were approximately 161 properties listed for lease with approximately 76 properties leased. Historically low mortgage interest rates and an economy growing stronger means 2003 is likely to be the second best year on record for the housing market. Low mortgage rates and a continuing strong demand for housing drove existing home sales to a new record in the first quarter of 2003. The West posted an annual resale rate up 0.6 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago with Southern California home prices increasing more than 20 percent so far this year. The 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate should move only gradually and rise slowly to 6.3 percent by the end of the year. While this increase will affect some buyers qualifying for a loan, there will not be a significant impact on the overall market. The average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage decreased to 5.51 percent from 5.67 percent. The percentage of households in California able to afford a median priced home was at 28 percent in March, down one point compared to the same period a year ago. The minimum household income needed to purchase a median priced home at $352,780 in California in March was $82,470 based on a typical 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 5.80 percent and assuming a 20 down payment. Monterey was the least affordable region in this state. However, in Los Angeles County Canyon News territory, home prices are rapidly approaching the million dollar price for the least expensive three bedroom or more homes featuring two or more baths. percent

Photo by Kibiwot Limo

Most home purchase agreements require the inspection of the property to occur within two weeks and most often within ten days after the offer has been accepted which is stated definitively in the purchase contract named the Inspection Contingency. Be aware, missing the home inspection deadline can cause a buyer to forfeit this right and eliminate the ability to negotiate findings by the inspector. This is not a time to cut corners. A professional home inspection can help prevent negative outcomes. Buyers who engage a professional inspector are less likely to endure costly repairs and inconveniences after moving into the newly purchased home. Also, home inspections result in fewer buyer remorse feelings when a home has been thoroughly inspected. Even when home inspections reveal problems or needed repairs, it is in the end more effective and efficient for all parties to deal with these issues sooner rather than later.

The relatively low expense of a home inspection can be significantly offset by the potential costs of repairs and replacements. Home inspection costs are based on the demographics of the property such as geographic location, type of property, one story or more and size of the house. Buyers should always be present during the inspection to ask questions and even follow the inspector from room to room, inside and outside, when possible. Being present, viewing specific conditions in person, consulting with the inspector and obtaining advice can tremendously benefit the buyer. A buyer should schedule the inspection date and time when availability for approximately two to four hours is possible. The purpose is to learn as much as possible about the condition of your new home. Visually viewing a home prior to making an offer tells the buyer little about what is not seen and more about what has been seen. During the inspection, buyers have hours to probe and prod and address any concerns having most questions answered immediately. However, while home inspectors will point out any defects of the property and advise the buyer of concerns, home inspectors can not advise a buyer as to whether the buyer should purchase the property or not.

Photo by Kibiwot Limo

Home inspectors are not home appraisers but are there to present their findings to the buyer. Buyers must determine on their own as to whether to complete the transaction or not. What may be a deal breaker to one buyer, may not be of major concern to another buyer. Inspectors, in general, do not perform environmental hazard inspections which is often beyond their scope. An inspector may advise a buyer to consult with environmental specialists for noted concerns of asbestos, mold, etc. During the Inspection Contingency the buyer must complete all investigations of the property including a geological inspection especially if the home resides on a hillside to determine the type of soil, stability of the soil and the soil condition.

A home inspection is only as good as the company that provides it. Consider a national company with high training standards and a reputation for standing behind their work. It's best to select a provider that adheres to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) standards. Furthermore, it is critically important that the company has errors and omissions insurance. Be sure the inspector provides a thorough, written report that covers the home's structure, mechanical systems and safety. Should the buyer not know which home inspection company to engage, ask the real estate professional who is able to provide a list of names for the buyer to research and make a selection. Until next time, home matters.

Yvonne Hefner, a licensed Real Estate Agent, can be reached at 323-650-8812 or at


Cliffside Malibu




Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.