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.
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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?
finding your home & making an offer
FINDING YOUR HOME
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.
TIME PERIODS & TERMS
Terms of the purchase agreement include:
Length of Transaction
Terms (Rent back, etc.)
Escrow and Title Fees (50/50 | Buyer/Seller)
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
COUNTER OFFERS & ACCEPTANCE
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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PHYSICAL CONTINGENCY INSPECTIONS
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.
LOAN & APPRAISAL CONTINGENCY
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!
WALK-THROUGH & SIGN-OFF
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.
FUNDING & RECORDING
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!
KEYS & MOVE-IN
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.
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OTHER THINGS TO EXPECT
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.
GET IN TOUCH
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!