the buying process

From obtaining the right loan, to writing a competitive offer and moving through the escrow period, buying a home can feel out of reach, but I’ve helped numerous clients buy and sell their homes throughout Santa Cruz County and I can HELP YOU TOO! Having a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent on your side to help simplify and guide you through the process is crucial. Learn about the buying process below or call me at (831) 515-8582 to schedule a time to meet in person.



What my clients are saying..

Being a first-time buyer in a competitive market was intimidating, but Sam made sure I had all the information I needed to make good decisions, explained everything throughout each step of the process, and always checked in to see if I needed anything.
— Sarah W. • Buyer
We spent a few months looking for property but could not find the right ‘one’. Luckily he was able to find an off-market home in our ideal neighborhood that we were able to buy without competing with any other offers.
— Scott K. • Buyer
Sam spent a lot of time learning about what we wanted and walking us through every step of the sale process. Sam knows the real estate market in Santa Cruz very well, and not only did he find us the perfect home off market (!) but he negotiated an excellent price for us.
— Danielle B. • Buyer

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initial meeting & pre-approval




Let’s get together to see if we are a good fit! When we meet, you’ll have as much time as you need to ask me any questions and I’ll get a good understanding for what you are looking for. We will even WRITE A MOCK OFFER. During our initial consultation we will also:

  • Address all your questions and concerns regarding the market, neighborhoods, school districts or commute locations.

  • Get a good understanding of your wants and needs.

  • Discuss financing options and refer you the appropriate lender if necessary. Click here to view my Affiliates page.

  • Review the purchase contract and write a mock offer, so you have a complete understanding of the offer process before you find your next home.


The first step when buying a home is to get pre-approved for a loan and receive a pre-approval letter from a lender unless you’re writing an all cash offer. When in a competitive market, it is important to include the pre-approval letter with your offer package as it shows the seller you are prepared and gives you an advantage over buyers without one.

Questions to ask your lender:

  • What is the cost/credit of the loan?

  • What is the lock term?

  • What is the cost of the appraisal? (+/- $500)

  • What are the estimated closing costs? (Est. $10,000)

  • How do HOA payments impact my qualifying limit?

  • What is my monthly payment including: principal, interest, tax and insurance? (PITI)

questions about buying?


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finding your home & making an offer





Once you’re pre-approved on a loan, it’s time to start searching for your home! The majority of properties are listed on the MLS (multiple listing service) by Realtors®. To start searching for a property currently on the market, click here and please provide any feedback here.

I will also begin networking and prospecting to find off-market and coming soon listings that might work for you as well! I have helped many buyers buy homes before they even came on the market!



Once you have identified a property that you are interested in making an offer on, I will obtain the available reports and disclosures provided by the seller for you to review. When you make an offer, it is with the understanding that items disclosed will not be re-negotiated. However, if any new issues are discovered during the physical contingency period, they can and will be negotiated.

Regardless of how the disclosures are provided to me, I will make sure they are delivered in an easy-to-use format with Disclosures.io, which allows you to search for key terms and keeps all the information organized for you.


When you are writing an offer in a competitive market, it is important that you show that you are serious and prepared to buy.

Your offer package should include:

  • An introduction letter with a photo of you and/or your family

  • A pre-approval letter from your lender

  • Acknowledgment of disclosures and reports (If provided)

  • Proof of downpayment and closings funds

  • Residential purchase agreement (RPA)

If the seller has assigned a due date for offers, I will submit them on time and in-person, if possible, to give you the best chance of having your offer accepted.


Terms of the purchase agreement include:

  • Price

  • Length of Transaction

  • Deposit Amount

  • Loan Amount

  • Increased Deposit

  • Time Periods

  • Terms (Rent back, etc.)

  • Escrow and Title Fees  (50/50 | Buyer/Seller)

  • Home Warranty

Here are the typical time periods in a purchase agreement:

  • Initial Deposit (3% of purchase price suggested): 3 days

  • Proof of funds (if not provided at time of offer): 7 days

  • Physical Contingency: 10 Days

  • Appraisal Contingency: 17 Days

  • Loan Contingency: 21 Days

  • Length of Transaction/Escrow: 30 Days



A counteroffer is the seller’s response accepting the terms of the offer but with additional terms.  You can either accept the seller’s counteroffer or respond with a buyer counteroffer. Once you have come to a mutual agreement with the seller, we will secure a fully-ratified contract and send it to the title company, lender, and other parties.

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escrow period




The physical contingency inspection is one of the most important items to consider through the selling process. During this contingency period, you can have various inspections done, to ensure that the property is in overall good condition. If any issues are discovered, they can and will be negotiated. The cost of property inspections vary based on the square footage of the home.


The loan and appraisal contingency periods start at the time of acceptance (if applicable). The lender will submit the loan package and contract to the underwriter and they will also order the appraisal. The purpose of the appraisal is to ensure the property is worth the negotiated price. The cost of the appraisal is the buyer’s responsibility and ranges between $500-800.


Prior to the transaction closing, the lender will require that you have obtained homeowner’s insurance. Mike Baxter with Farmers Insurance in Santa Cruz is a great resource to help quote a homeowners policy. Click here to get in touch with Mike.


Upon successful completion of all inspection and the loan and appraisal process, contingencies will be removed. Once all contingencies are removed, you cannot breach contract without risking your good faith deposit as liquidated damages. If you are currently a tenant, this is when you give your landlord notice.


 Questions? I’d be happy to answer them!





Once all of your contingencies have been removed and your loan has been approved, the next step is to do a final walk-through at the property to verify its condition prior to closing. After that, I will arrange for you to sign your final loan and title documents at the title company. You will also need to deposit the remainder of your down payment. You can bring your funds via cashier’s check to the title company or do a wire transfer.


Once the final loan conditions are met, the loan will “fund.” The following day (sometimes the same day) your name is recorded at the County Recorder Office and escrow is closed! Congratulations, you did it!



Escrow is closed and you are now a proud homeowner! I will arrange for the keys to be brought to the property or will drop them off to you. Before you move in, be sure to:

  • Switch over the utility accounts into your name

  • Complete any planned improvements or repairs

  • Consider changing the locks

  • Explore your new neighborhood

  • Consider estate planning and putting your new home in a trust

View a list of helpful moving tips here.

What my clients are saying..

We could not be more satisfied with Sam Bird Robinson as our real estate agent!! He was kind and calm throughout our out-of-state search for a house in Santa Cruz. He is knowledgeable as well as patient. He never once dropped the reins and he was always there to take our calls. Sam asked all the right questions in order to help us find that perfect fit house for us. His commitment and support was unyielding. His support staff were also terrific -available and clear in communications. We made it through a cross-country search with a 1031 exchange with Sam as our guide and we absolutely and without any reservations recommend him as the best realtor in Santa Cruz. We love OUR house! Thank you Sam!
— Leslye L. • Buyer
Working with Sam was awesome from day 1 for both my fiancé and I. We knew absolutely nothing about real estate or the buying process and the thought of purchasing a home along with moving and planning a wedding was super stressful. Sam made it easy and stress free for us. My fiancé and I had a blast looking at houses with Sam and we eventually found one we could see ourselves sharing our lives in. In a competitive market with multiple bidders he helped us write the winning offer on the house and location we wanted. Sam was super helpful through the whole closing process and continues to check in on us even after the deal closed and we moved in. Highly recommend Sam and his team to anyone looking for real estate in Santa Cruz County.
— Brent P. • Buyer


Loan Payment

Your first payment is due a full month after the close of escrow. The payment is usually made to the bank from which the loan was obtained. Make sure to look out for when the loan is sold to a secondary lender and servicing company. If you have questions about your first loan payment, give me a call or talk to your lender. Click here for my recommended list of lenders.

Supplemental Tax Bill

Your lender will pay a prorated amount of your property taxes as part of the closing costs based on the seller’s tax bill. If you are paying more than the seller paid for their house, then the difference is due as part of the Supplemental Tax Bill, which arrives 6-12 months after the close of escrow. How this amount is paid depends on the arrangement you have made with your lender and impound account.


Do you still have questions about the buying process or are ready to get started on your home buying journey? I would love to get connected with you and strategize for the best possible outcome!


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