Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones and investments of your life! To prepare yourself for this moment, you need to know what to expect during the process. This step-by-step buyer’s guide will help to reduce the stress and time it takes to buy a home, helping you become more comfortable with the process. I wrote this guide to create an easier and less stressful buying experience for all who are willing to educate themselves
Do you already know where you want to buy? Do you want a condo, townhome, or single-family home? Which features do you like and dislike? What’s available on the market now? Are you pre-approved? If you answered no to any of these questions, now is the time to hire an agent.
Can you shop for, look at, and ultimately make an offer on a home without a real estate agent? Technically, yes – but why would you when it costs nothing to work with an agent like me? An experienced and professional real estate agent can take much of the stress off your shoulders during a real estate transaction as well as save you oodles of money. Not only will I identify properties in which you might be interested, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but I also have an insider’s knowledge of the current market as a top agent with years of experience. When you hire me, I will be able to help you sift through certain homes with a proven strategy, suggest hidden gems, and/or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.
The most important step will be to contact a lender to find out how much you qualify for and what the monthly payment will be. In many cases, a mortgage company (lender) will pre-approve you for more than you’re comfortable spending. Depending on the loan type and rate, the monthly payment can vary pretty wildly as well.
Our first task is to get you qualified. This will show us how much you qualify for AND if that monthly payment works for you. If not, we adjust the budget accordingly so that you do not over extend yourself financially.
The SoCal real estate market is very competitive, only the most prepared buyers will get their offer accepted. This is the minimum we must do before starting our search as sellers won’t entertain offers from those who aren’t pre-approved for a loan. The market moves quickly and getting pre-approved after you find something is, unfortunately, too late.
Next, we will set a meeting to discuss what you are looking for in a home. As an agent, I’m here to listen to what you want, to show you if it’s possible, and/or to tell you the truth when something is out of reach. Our goal is to get you the home you want when you want it. There is no benefit to wasting days/weeks/months of your time looking for something that won’t work in your area and budget. If it isn’t possible in today’s market, the great news is I will help you create a plan or adjust our search to another option that you will love.
Rarely will you get more than 85% of the factors you are looking for in a home – unless the home is built to your exact specifications. However, we’ll work together to prioritize the factors and features that cannot be changed. This might include the school district, amount of natural light, layout, the direction the home is facing, or even the home’s physical location, just to name a few. Many factors can be adjusted with money after you buy your home and will add equity value to the home as an investment.
The home buying process is complicated, isn’t it? It’s definitely scary, right? The short answer is NO – not unless you let it be.
Step 3 and Step 4 should occur during the same meeting with your agent to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident moving forward. Will you remember every single detail? No, probably not. However, after gaining some knowledge of the process, your stress will significantly decrease and it will make sure you don’t feel surprised by the next steps when we get there.
We review the steps of the process so that you can ask all of the questions you have in a low stakes, stress-free environment. That way, we can work through any reservations, misinformation, or market related questions that you have.
This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process – other than moving in, of course! My process is designed to find you a home that you would want to live in within the first three showings. We will go through a bespoke process that Ihave created for you to save time, money, and stress. Everything from start to finish will be part of a custom-curated plan that meets your needs.
As soon as we have selected a home, or multiple homes, we will work to create the most competitive offer possible on each of them.
We will need to craft a competitive offer at a price that the home could actually sell for based on my experience, recent sales, and properties under contract in the area right now. One of the most important jobs for me as your agent is to negotiate the acceptance of our offer and communicate with the other agent regarding our strength as a buyer. In our market, most homes will be listed at “attractive” prices – lower than market value – to get multiple offers and a quick sale. We need to be ready to write strong offers quickly at prices that will actually win the home.
Due to SoCal’s competitive real estate market, the more offers we write, the better chance we will have as it sometimes can take several offers to get one accepted. At this point, you can choose to move forward or not with one or more properties. When your offer is accepted, you open escrow and move on to Step 7. We will now review the escrow process so you can be prepared for what comes next.
Now is the time to go back to the mortgage lender who pre-approved you and choose your mortgage. It’s important to work with your mortgage lender to select the option that best fits your situation while also saving you the most money possible. I will be helping negotiate fees and discuss options with the lender as well to save you as much money as possible.
In most cases, your offer will be contingent on having the home inspected to ensure there is no major structural damage or large repairs needed. I can help you arrange the inspection, and we will schedule it within days of the offer’s acceptance.
If there are no major issues, the process goes to step eight. If issues are discovered, we can renegotiate your offer based on what repairs are needed, or you can withdraw your offer and cancel escrow. The goal is not to cancel, but to reach a mutually agreeable decision. However if we cannot work it out, then we can walk away with no problem.
Homes sold in California are sold as-is, which means they will not give credits for minor repairs or cosmetic issues like replacing a carpet, fireplace, or countertop. However, we will negotiate for large items like roofing, air conditioning, foundation-related problems, or health and safety risks including faulty smoke detectors, active leaks, mold, etc.
I will be there to advise best practices and help you with any questions or follow-up inspections needed to get a full picture of the home. We will then use this information to act accordingly in our Request for Repairs.
Your lender will have your new home appraised so they have their independent value of it to ensure that you are paying a fair price for the house. Most appraisals come in at the price offered. Problems with appraisals are rare and are often mistakes. This should only be addressed in the event that it happens. As your agent, I will let you know if there is a risk of an appraisal coming in under what we have offered.
No one looks forward to all the paperwork involved in buying a home, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Fortunately, everything will be arranged by your lender and title company. When you’re finished, you’ll know you are the legal owner of your new home. There will be a person assigned for you from Escrow, the Lender, and my transaction team. I will also be there, this way, if you have any questions you can ask the appropriate party and we will help you work through them.
Congratulations! After signing the final paperwork to complete the purchase, the loan will be funded and the property will record in your name at the city's recording office. You are now the owner of a new home! As soon as we get the notification from escrow, I can delier the keys and you’ll be all set to move into the home of your dreams.
It’s my job to save you time, money, and stress throughout the process by creating a plan and working the process thoroughly. Your agent should help make a timeline, create a budget, search for homes, find the right lender, pick the right inspectors, negotiate, among many other things that will benefit you – and are frankly too long to list. I would love the opportunity to apply to be your full-time real estate agent and resource for many years to come.