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Before You BuyYou Should Know

Home Buying Basics for the Santa Clarita Valley

Housing Options
Apartments, condominiums, and single-family detached homes are all available in the Santa Clarita Valley.

State of California Home Buying, Mortgage, and Owning Information
Help for homeowners in trouble in Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) can be found here from the State of California. You'll also find tips to avoid problems when purchasing a home.

Current Housing Market
Familiarize yourself with Santa Clarita's housing market trends.

New Home Builders
New home builders in the Santa Clarita Valley include Pacific Communities, KB Homes, S&S Homes, Centex, Greystone Homes, Richmond American Homes, Shea Homes, New Urban West, Warmington Homes California, William Lyon Homes, The Olson Company, Pinnacle Communities, Beazer Homes, Pacer Communities, MBK Homes, Lang Homes, and Sares Regis Group. Click on the link above for their websites and additional information.

Homes for Sale in the SCV
The communities within the central area of the Santa Clarita Valley are Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, Stevenson Ranch and Valencia. Newhall Ranch is a five-minute drive west of the SCV on Hwy 126 and is not yet developed. Castaic is a ten-minute drive north on I-5. Agua Dulce and Acton are 30-minute drives north on Hwy. 14.

Palmdale and Lancaster are a part of the Antelope Valley, a 40-minute drive north of the SCV--but commutable.

While will give you some idea of the housing market in our area, please contact a Realtor to assist you in understanding the idiosyncrasies of the area and the legal aspects of purchasing a home in California. Read our tips below to get you started.

Learn Before You Buy
Did you know that College of the Canyons offers courses in the Anatomy of a Real Estate Transaction and the Legal Aspects of Homeowner Associations through the Community Extension as well as credited courses on everything from real estate principles to escrow procedures and mortgage loan brokering? It doesn't have to be a great mystery.

Know Before You Buy
Before placing a deposit on a home, run the address past your insurance company. Some homes are deemed uninsurable by major carriers because they sit near a fire zone, in a flood plane or on a fault line. You may also review maps provided by the City of Santa Clarita below.

City of Santa Clarita Maps
From here you can download fire, flood, and seismic zone maps as well as other maps--including average daily traffic and general plans.

Crime in the Neighborhood
The LA County Sheriff's Department is the law enforcement agency for the Santa Clarita Valley. Visit their website for the crime information your realtor, or real estate agent, can't tell you as directed by the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics.

Follow this link to the U.S. Census Bureau to learn more about your potential neighbors. (The zip code for the center of Santa Clarita is 91355.)

Environmental Issues
Learn more about the air quality, toxic releases and hazardous waste sites, cancer risks and water quality for Santa Clarita, Los Angeles and any other U.S. location by visiting the website for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (The zip code for the center of Santa Clarita is 91355.)

City or County?
Is the home you are interested in purchasing in the City? The answer determines the services available and the codes that apply to you. Find out here.

School Boundaries
Many of the local schools rank among the top 10 percent in California based on the California Assessment Program and have received Distinguished School awards from the California Dept. of Education or National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence awards. You can learn more about them here. To view a school boundary map or look up the elementary, middle and high schools your child would attend, click here and follow the link for "Attendance Boundaries."

Work with a realtor referred to you by a friend or family member.

Recurring Costs Associated with Homeownership in California
True, if you are moving from a cold climate you will notice a reduction in your heating bill. Below are expenses you may realize as a homeowner in the state of California. See Residential Utilities for details.

  • Electric (use of air conditioners will create a spike in your electric bill)
  • Gas
  • Water (green landscapes require automatic sprinkler systems)
  • Telephone
  • Cable
  • Internet

Property Taxes

  • Homeowners
  • Earthquake
  • Flood

  • Trash pickup
  • Water conditioning
  • Exterminator
  • Pool maintenance
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Alarm monitoring

NOTE: You may be able to deduct both personal property taxes and interest paid on your mortgage.

You will need to purchase homeowners insurance if you carry a mortgage on your home. Your home is not covered if you experience a loss due to an earthquake, unless you purchase additional earthquake insurance. Such insurance is similar in cost to your homeowners insurance, but with a greater deductible. CEA (California Earthquake Authority) is the leading earthquake insurance provider in the state.

Choose your home carefully, as you may also need to purchase Flood Insurance. Winter weather may cause flooding of rivers that appear dry in warmer weather or your home may be in the direct path of a flood zone if a local dam should break.

Learn more from the California Dept. of Insurance

Property Taxes
When you purchase your home, in all probability you will receive an additional Supplemental Tax Bill, which represents the difference between the current assessed value and the old value (under which the previous owner was assessed). Due to Proposition 13 passed in 1978, once you own your home, your property tax's annual increase will not exceed 2% unless there is a change in ownership or new construction is completed on your home. Before embarking on a new addition to your home, check with the Assessor's office to determine the number of square feet you may add before your home is reassessed. To calculate the property taxes for an existing home, visit the website of the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector.

California property taxes are due in two installments annually. Visit the website of the Los Angeles County Assessor.

For comprehensive information on personal property taxes in LA County, visit the website of the Los Angeles County Assessor.

Southern California homes typically do not have basements, so whatever you can't fit into your closets has to be stored in the garage or attic. Keep in mind summer temps hit triple digits, so consider carefully what you stow in the attic. (An attic fan may be helpful.) At some point, you may wish to improve your storage space with cabinets and closet organizers.

Oh, and the RV? It's unlawful to leave it on the street in the City of Santa Clarita, so unless you can squeeze it into your side yard, you'll need to rent a storage space for that, too. Not all Homeowners Associations permit keeping an RV in your yard, so be sure to double check before signing on the dotted line.

Hiring a Contractor
You want to have some work done at your home and you found a name through this site or your friend, so you're good to go...right? We advise you take a few more steps first.

Before hiring any contractor, check with the California Contractor's State License Board (CLSB) to confirm: a) the contractor has a current license; b) the license is specific to the work for which you are hiring him; c) the contractor carries workmen's compensation; d) the contractor is bonded; and e) if there is any legal action that has been taken against him. Hiring a contractor that is not licensed means you have no recourse if you are displeased with the job. If the contractor does not carry workmen's compensation, your homeowner's insurance will have to cover any workers if they are injured on your property, which could result in higher premiums or cancellation by your insurance company.

If you're considering not paying the contractor if you are displeased with his work, think again; he can place a Mechanic's Lien on your home.

For more information, refer to the article "...Before You Hire a Contractor."

Tips on Purchasing Your Home
  • The highest priced areas are currently Valencia and Stevenson Ranch. The remaining communities are competitive.
  • Watch out for communities with special school bond taxes; Mella Roos is one such tax.
  • Choosing a community without a homeowner's association can save you hundreds of dollars monthly.
  • If purchasing a home built prior to 1994, be aware of the potential damage from the '94 earthquake. Homes built after 1994 employ more recent earthquake codes.
  • Beware of adjustable rate mortgages with an appealing APR. While rates may be rather low, increased rates may price you out of your home in the future.
  • Determine your buying power before house hunting. If you are a new homeowner in California, consider consulting a CPA.
  • Work with a realtor who will have your best interest in mind, even when purchasing a brand new home. A realtor may save you thousands of dollars and major headaches down the road. (Because the realtor is paid by the seller, it should not cost you anything additional.)
  • Purchase a home in an area with highly rated schools. Even if you do not have children, this will be of benefit when you resell your home.
  • Before purchasing, visit the neighborhood at various times throughout the day to get a feeling for the neighborhood. Is there a barking dog near the property? What are the neighbors like in the area? What is the level of street noise in the area?
  • Homes on cul de sacs and with views of the valley may command an increased resale price. Homes set on street corners may be a negative for some homebuyers.
  • There are a few communities with lower resale prices because the homes sit on leased land. If you purchase such a home, you will not own the land beneath it. This may be a deterrent to future homebuyers when you resell your home.
  • Water in the Santa Clarita Valley tests harder than most regions and may cause damage to your home's pipes. The installation of traditional water softeners has been banned due to their negative impact on the Santa Clara River. Water softening companies do offer alternative softening systems.
  • When choosing an exterminator, you should be aware that the standard monthly package typically does not include termites. For more information on how to protect your home against termites, visit Other pests may not be covered, including rodents and bees.
  • Rain gutters are often an upgrade option on new homes.
  • Model homes may have $100,000 in decorator options. Be sure to ask what comes standard in your home.

Should I Move?
While we can't answer that question for you, we recently learned of this little online comparison tool so you can enter the city where you currently live and see how it stacks up to Santa Clarita:

Updated September 28, 2017
Endorsed by
County of Los Angeles SCV Chamber of Commerce California Travel and Tourism Commission
In association with
SCV Tourism Bureau
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