Throughout most of California, housing is far from inexpensive. That makes the stakes feel even higher when you are looking for a place to live. It can be helpful to keep a few things in mind when you set out to buy your place in the Golden State.

Understand Mortgages and Loans

While many people, especially first-time home buyers, purchase homes through government-backed loans from entities such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the VA, there is also an option known as jumbo loans. These are for amounts that are higher than the limits on the government-backed loans, and they are not uncommon in California since housing prices are so high. There may be classes in your area aimed at first-time homeowners that can help you understand a lot of the ins and outs of getting a mortgage, what help may be available and other aspects of buying a home.

Consider Your Priorities

Shopping for a house can be overwhelming. One way to make it less so is to get a clear idea of your priorities, the things you simply can’t live without, alongside the nice-to-haves. You may also want to rank the nice-to-haves by preference. Doing this ahead of time can help you avoid feeling inundated by too many choices. Before you launch your search in earnest, you may want to browse some real estate ads to get a sense of what’s out there. There might be features you didn’t realize would be available in your price range that you’d like to add to your list, such as a pool. You may also want to consider whether the property is suitable for any renovations you have in mind. Taking advantage of luxury home lifts are one example of the type of renovation you might want to do. These can be a big help in catering parties or if someone in your family has mobility issues and can be an elegant addition to a high-end home.

Get the Right Agent

Do you have to have a real estate agent in the first place? Technically, there is nothing that requires this, but not having one can put you at a disadvantage in several ways. You may not have access to as many listings. You may be at a disadvantage during negotiations and not realize when a seller is asking for something unreasonable. As to finding the right agent, don’t hire a friend as your agent first of all, and there are also a few things to look for.

They should know the neighborhoods well that interest you, have experience in the type of home that you’re looking for and should be someone that you click with. That doesn’t mean they should have the potential to become your best friend, but they must understand you and your family’s needs enough to have an instinct for the type of home that you’re looking for. Asking friends, family members, and acquaintances for recommendations can be a great place to start in looking for someone. Don’t be afraid to talk to a few agents before settling on the one that you think is right for you.