What to Expect as a First-Time Buyer

When considering the purchase of a first home, it’s natural to be intimidated by the mind-boggling amount of information to consider even before deciding on a particular property. At times, it can feel like there is an endless list of decisions, but with a guide to assist you through the process you can enjoy the rewards of your effort. After it’s completed, the excitement of owning your own piece of real estate is rewarded over time with many great benefits, including a sense of control and of course, equity.

The steps along the way can really be defined as four basic stages.

  • Arranging Financing
  • Searching for the Property
  • Offer & Negotiation
  • Closing

Financing is necessary in order to purchase a house and since few of us can afford to purchase a property outright it involves a loan from someone, generally a bank, credit union or mortgage lender (or a family member). It is critical to explore the financing step first, so that as a buyer you will know how much you can borrow and what the monthly payment cost will be. Knowing how much you can borrow will allow you to search through the appropriate listings. Among things to consider are closing costs and prepaids (which generally cost about 3% of the sales price), property taxes, monthly Home Owner Dues or fees and other utility expenses. I work with an excellent lender and will be happy to provide that referral for you. And of course, you are welcome to work with anyone that you wish, you are not required to work with my referrals.

Searching involves determining what type of property suits your needs. You’ll find that we have an incredible array of choices in our community ranging from single family homes, duplex and multi-family buildings, houseboats, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops. There are pros and cons to each and I will be happy to discuss these with you.

Once you’ve determined the type of real estate that you wish to purchase, I will provide you access to the inside of properties where you can get the “feel” of the building that photos and virtual tours cannot provide through the internet. I visit dozens of properties on a regular basis. I search for those that might be suitable and then show you only the ones that are, in my opinion, the best; in condition, price, location and those that fit your criteria. I will also share with you my observations and feedback about the others and if you wish, provide you the chance to visit them as well. My goal to assist you in selecting the right place without wasted time, energy and effort.

Offer & Negotiations – When you have decided that you wish to purchase particular property, I will prepare a Purchase & Sale Agreement (PSA) that will include appropriate “escape” clauses that allow you to make a fully informed decision about the purchase. I will negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best price and conditions to match your needs and the property. I will work to help you recognize the value of a property and make an informed decision.

Closing is the final step in transferring ownership from the seller to the buyer.  There are numerous details along the way, dealing with providing documentation and arranging services and it is my role to make certain that you are aware of what to expect and to get each requirement completed on time. I will work closely with the seller’s Agent and with the Closing Officer at the Escrow office to provide all the details early so that the transaction will complete on time.

The actual Closing is when the property is recorded in your name and the seller has access to the funds. In reality, you will sign the final purchase and loan documents two or three days ahead of the Closing Date so that the lender can review them and the Escrow office can get it recorded with the county on the target date. You will receive keys at the end of the day that the transaction is recorded with the county.

Home ownership is an important part of what is called the “American Dream” and is actually easier than many people imagine. I know that once I became a home owner (in my 30’s) I asked myself, why didn’t I do this sooner?