Do I need to be pre-approved before looking for real estate?
It is best to get pre-approved so that you will have all your paperwork in order as well as know what you can afford and the cost of the money you plan on financing. The cost of money is very important, presently in 2017 we have been spoiled by the low cost of financing. However, we have been limited with the low return on our cash deposits from regular bank accounts to Certificates of Deposit.
Who should I consult with about buying or selling real estate?
It is best to talk with any significant other, then talk with your accountant or a financial advisor which can include a loan person or a family member that has experience with real estate or at least time deposit for over 12 years (this is to be able to assess the cycles that economies go through regardless of where- they are not all the same yet they are cycles and you will be better prepared to these movements. A peaceful investor/pilot can navigate more precisely than one stressed.). Just like the seasons of the year, there are seasons of economic trends which are reflective of the cost of money climate patterns and the hope in the marketplace that is very site specific. As the mountain resort can be doing well, but the city below is not because of the local economy rather a more optimistic global or a broader area/society.
What type of properties goes up in value quicker than others?
Above I mentioned seasons and cycles because you have to assess what is happening in the local market (can be as small as one side of view street to a general area that has many different style homes and lifestyles like the Venice area and Koreatown areas. Also, if you are able to check with the city planning department because they know what new projects are being developed along with how they predict use by zoning designations. An example is that I had sold a house on a busier street of a nice neighborhood so that my clients can live in a nice area at a lower price (it was zoned R-3 but surrounded by single family homes). After a few years of ownership, several properties that were next to multiple units were sold and the trend changed quickly to now be reflective of the zoning (R-3 is multiple residential units medium density). So now what used to be a price lower because of the busier street, is now one that was paid a premium because of its zoning. This is to let you know that it is not just fixing your building or house up, but beware of the trends that could make one property more valuable than another. Some times like in buying a condo, it is either a healthy homeowner’s association reserve account or the ability to have pets that can bring more value than one right next door with similar building features.