Before you go out and start shopping, either virtually or by visiting open houses, you really need to understand what your costs will be and whether you can actually get a loan. There are many factors that go into this such as your downpayment, your FICO score for credit worthiness, and what type of home you are trying to buy — for example, there are some loans that are available for single family homes and for detached townhome style condominiums, but not for attached condos/townhomes. You can use my mortgage calculator here to get a rough idea of whether you feel you can afford the payment, but the real test is whether the Bank thinks you can afford it. They go off of guidelines for debt to income ratios, with most assuming that total debt may not exceed 40 percent of income.
When making the mortgage calculation, remember that in Los Angeles, the property taxes are generally about 1.25 percent of the purchase price annually, unless they are in a newish development that may have a Mello-Roos extra tax involved. (Then use about 1.5 percent annually.) Also, be sure to add in either HOA fees and content insurance or regular homeowner’s insurance.
I highly recommend that you get pre-approved with one of the lenders here in order to avoid falling in love with a home and then either find out you can’t afford it, or worse, find out you could have afforded it but someone beat you to it because they were able to make an offer right away and you were not — in this unstable market, most Sellers will not accept an offer from someone who is not pre-approved or at least pre-qualified.