Our Real Estate Process For Finding Your New Home
If you are serious about buying a new home and are committed to the process, the most important detail that I want you to know is that I have a fiduciary duty to you. Essentially, that means that I am here to represent you & your loved-ones in finding the best home for you and that I have an ethical relationship with you as my clients to be loyal to your best interests above all else. As we move together through our process of finding your new home, I know that what works for another buyer or a seller may not necessarily be best for you and your needs. Many times, while we are out touring homes you will see more of what you DON’T want than what you do want. But don’t worry, by learning what you don’t want, we will find what you DO want. I will work diligently along-side of you to ensure that you are always informed of your options throughout the entire escrow process and how each option affects you as the Buyers. Always remember, nearly all the different contracts that will be part of this process are NEGOTIABLE (!) and I always want you to ask me questions when we go over documents together. I will work at whichever pace you are comfortable with. If we start off immediately touring properties and feeling ready to submit an offer but then begin to feel slightly overwhelmed by it all, well then, we can take a step back and discuss what needs to be different and simply adjust our strategy. The colleagues that we will work with (lender, escrow, TCs, etc.) are prepared to accommodate your needs and at your speed. One more thing to remember is that when the time comes that our offer on a home gets accepted and we enter the escrow period things may move quickly, and availability & communication will be crucial. TIME WILL ALWAYS BE OF THE ESSENCE!
During Our First Meeting
What Do You Want In Your New Home & Neighborhood?
- Tell me what you would LOVE to have in your next home.
- Tell me what you would LOVE to have as part of your next neighborhood.
Let’s Talk About YOU
- What is your motivation for purchasing a home?
A new job, a change in your family dynamic (a growing family, now you’re empty-nesters, etc.), you’re wanting to take advantage of current interest rates, school district desires?
- What is your real estate experience?
- What is your knowledge of the current real estate market?
- What are your NEEDS and WANTS?
-Please rank the following items below in the order of importance to you-
What is your time-frame?
Is there a specific date that we must close escrow? The date that I hand you the keys to your New Home.
What cities or neighborhoods are you interested in?
What purchase price have you been pre-approved for?
What is the price point that you feel comfortable with? If there’s a difference, that’s okay.
What are the characteristics you are looking for in a home?
- What type of home are you looking for?
-Condominium or Townhouse. These types of homes will typically be a part of an HOA where owners must pay a monthly HOA fee. These can differ greatly between associations.
-Buildable Vacant Lot
-Multi-Family unit. Are you looking for a duplex or a way to have the property generate income for you?
- Number of Bed & Bath rooms?
- Square Footage of living space?
- Size of the lot?
- Flooring type? Wood, Tile, Carpet, etc?
- Floor-plan type? Open concept, Laundry in basement only, Central fireplace, etc.
- Number of stories?
- Garage size?
- Kitchen size?
- Age of home?
- Style of home? Rancher, Victorian, Spanish-tiled roof with stucco siding, etc.
- In-law unit?
- Garden, Pool, Game room?
- Basement, Wine cellar?
- What did I miss?
Are you willing to allow for the seller to Rent-Back?
A pre-determined amount of time for the seller to remain in the property after the COE with a cost to be paid to the buyer from the seller. This cost is typically, anywhere from $0 to the Current Market Rate, and in my opinion should be for a period of LESS THAN 30 days.
Sellers to cooperate with your Exchange?
Are you willing to cooperate with a seller’s Exchange?
Paying for your new home.
Conventional, FHA/VA, Down-Payment Assistance programs, etc.
- What is your dream scenario when buying your new home?
Communication Between Us
- How do you prefer to communicate?
Over Coffee & a Scone, Phone, Text, Email, Fax, Carrier Pigeon.
Are you a hands-on type of person, where you want to be involved in all aspects of a process? If so, that’s great. I really enjoy working closely with my clients. How often would you like to be in contact with me? That would be me updating you on everything I do from right now all the way through to the moment that I get to hand you the keys to your new home. Or would you prefer simply telling me what your search criteria is and then having me hand you the keys to your next home? Well it won’t be quite that easy, but I’ll see what I can do.
- How often would you like to receive information on new homes for sale that match your search criteria?
With the Better Homes & Gardens’ First Alert System, you will receive notifications directly to your email when a new property that matches your search criteria first becomes active on the Multiple Listing Service. I will start off with a broad range for your search criteria and once we begin to figure out the many different characteristics that you do & do not want in a home, we can then start to refine our search and narrow-down the criteria as we move forward. When you find one or more properties that you find interesting, just let me know the address of each one. I will contact the different listing agents and ask for any available Seller’s Disclosures and arrange a day or two for us to tour any or all of the homes that you would like.
Mastering The Market
- Top 3 factors influencing homes prices in the Bay Area.
Volume of homes for sale on the market.
- Typically, the Spring and Summer seasons are when the market will see its highest volume of homes for sale. Sellers will be looking to take advantage of the influx of home-buyers actively searching. This is when the greatest number of Open Houses for viewing will be held.
Number of qualified buyers searching for a new home.
- Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg? As the number of homes for sale increases, so will the number of active buyers. It’s Summer-time and people just want to get out of the house. Everyone seems to be out looking at homes for sale, don’t worry though, many of them are just interested in what’s going on in their neighborhood. However, the fact remains, this will be a competitive time for us. Over the past two years, most homes for sale did not last more than 7-10 days on the market before entering into a contract. Our current market remains strong but with a larger supply of homes now for sale, many have considered us in a down-turn in the market. I on the other hand see this as the market experiencing a leveling out due to the increasing amount of homeowners now keeping pace with home buyers. What it boils down to is; if it’s your Forever Home that we may be standing in the middle of at the time, the one that you just knew was The One as soon as we drove up, then let’s not mess around. We come in with a strong offer (not always the highest dollar amount, terms do matter) and be open to negotiations.
- During the Fall and Winter seasons, the market tends to slow down. Many of the homes that were for sale have now closed escrow or been withdrawn, most likely due to being overpriced. Most buyers are just now settling into their new homes, or they simply gave up on the idea because they were unsuccessful. I will not let this happen to you. Of course, if you’re just starting now, there’s typically less competition for you-and that’s a good thing! Just because there are less homes for sale on the market, doesn’t mean that there are less homeowners looking to sell. I am continually in contact with off-market homeowners & past clients (non-owner occupieds) who may be interested in selling their home. This has been an excellent resource for my past clients. I was able to work with both the buyers & sellers to agree on a price & terms that allowed both sides to accomplish their needs. Specializing in off-market real estate sales greatly benefits my clients. While saving the sellers time & expense, the buyers are up against no competition & most times can obtain a lower purchase price versus buying a home that has been listed by a separate agency, mass marketed, and received multiple offers on it. If I was to ever use the phrase “It’s A Win-Win”, now would be the time to do it.
- Mortgage interest rates and how they are currently affecting your ability to afford the cost of a loan.
If you are intending to purchase your new home with All Cash, awesome! Our lives just became easier.
If we will be submitting an offer containing a Loan Contingency, now is a great time to make a move. Interest Rates are still at historic lows, things are looking good. If the Feds do raise rates at one or multiple points over the next 12 months, that would mean that even though your monthly payment will remain the same, more of your money will go towards the interest on your loan. Essentially, all your wants and needs in the house that you can afford right now are less likely to be available 12 months from now.
- This is different for everyone. Because your wants, needs, and abilities are different than every other buyers’, our buying strategy with you should be different as well. As we do with each of our clients, we (ourselves, your lender if needed, any contractors if needed, and of course you) will work together and examine all aspects of the process to find you your forever home. Remember, sometimes your forever home is not your next home. But that is why I am here. Our relationship is not just for the next 3 to 4 months and ending when we close escrow. The moment you invited us to meet with you, we made our commitment to you. Three years down the road when you need to add an addition because your family is growing, I want you to call me for a local contractor’s contact info. Ten years later when you need estimates for a new roof, we will be there. But the call I am looking forward to the most, is when your oldest is getting married and you want to help them find their first home…..local of course. We can’t have your future grandchildren too far away! What we build with our clients are life-long relationships.
- To effectively create a buying strategy, we should look at how the current sellers are marketing & selling their properties in the locations that you are interested in moving to. Since 2016-ish, the Bay Area real estate market has shown that the home seller is in the driver’s seat, really throughout the entire process. For a long time, buyers were competing with 10 or more offers that were sometimes up to 20% over appraised value. What I have found is that sellers in that type of market, is that to get the best offer for their home, they should advertise it for sale between 5%-10% below the current value based on the comparable properties. This will get the greatest number of buyers’ eyeballs on their home. With greater interest, buyers will perceive the home as having a higher value, culminating in a bidding war between buyers and therefor driving up the purchase price of their home. Does this always work for the seller? No, but every market goes through different trends, and it will be my responsibility to guide us through them. As of now, our suggestion is to set-up our search criteria with a maximum purchase price of 10% over your max budget dollar amount. This will allow you to receive notifications for active homes that have been idle on the market for an extended period and may just be overpriced. While we search for your dream scenario, remember that sometimes many homes in this area are under-priced with the sellers’ expectations of obtaining a much higher selling price. As we tour different homes with a variety of characteristics, let’s always remember what the competition may be thinking and how the overall real estate market is moving. Some critical statistics to keep in the back of your minds are:
– For every week that a home remains for sale on the market, the number of potential buyers who will actively view it decreases by an average of 32%. This lack of movement & exposure typically results in a purchase price that is 8-13% less than the original asking price. If we find a home that fits yours needs and wants, but at the moment the sellers are asking for a purchase price that is over your budget, let me know and I will reach out to the listing agent to find out as much information as possible about the owners & their needs. If the property remains active on the market for longer than 30 days and has a lack of interested buyers, this will be the time to reconnect with the sellers to see if they would like to negotiate a lower purchase price.
Introducing You To Better Homes & Gardens’ First Alert Program
- Once we have determined your wants, needs, and price point, I will enter that information into our First Alert program. This was discussed above. As we continue our search, your criteria may change some. If it does, you can manipulate all aspects of the search parameters to align them with your criteria changes.
- Another great tool that you will have access to is my Neighborhood News subscription. From my website, we can enter the zip codes to each neighborhood that you would like to learn more about. You can find out about local statistical data, information about the community, and current real estate trends affecting multiple areas that matter to you.
- What are your “What If-s” that you are, or may become concerned about?
Let’s Be Ready
- A detailed moving plan.
Boxes, Blankets, Packing Tissue, Dolly, Moving Truck or Movers.
Moving companies contact information.
–Name & Phone #
–Name & Phone #
Schedule the transfer of your utilities & services.
Change of address.
-USPS website- https://moversguide.usps.com/mgo/move-info
- Homeowner’s Insurance. You will need to research different insurance companies and be prepared to have the intended coverage to present at the close of escrow. I suggest to speak with at least one local company who knows the area & market very well.
- Taxes. Be sure to talk with an accountant to determine how your to tax liabilities will affect you.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
Preparing You For The Market
- Introducing you to Our Team. Collectively, they will help guide us through the entire process. They are:
–Our Escrow Officer
Kristen Boyd with Old Republic Title Company
–Our Transaction Coordinator-Shelley Quintero
-Our Office Broker (Manager)-Marques Buck
–Inspection Companies – As the Buyer, you are afforded the option to incorporate an Inspection Contingency into our offer. I strongly suggest that at minimum you have the Home, Pest, & Roof inspections performed. All inspections are typically a cost to the Buyer, however, some homeowners may have performed their own inspections prior to listing their home for sale. Because each home that we tour will have different characteristics & different types of deferred maintenance, different types of inspections may be needed from one house to the next. I have worked with several different companies & independent contractors who have performed inspections for both Buyers & Sellers. I have listed a few referrals below. Once we have an offer accepted and reach the point to order our inspections, we will discuss what inspections you would like to have done & your options to determine the best course of action.
Hinkson Construction Inc.-Foundation & Property Drainage
When representing two first-time home buyers, we were in need of multiple inspections with bids to perform a major foundation repair & re-leveling of the home. Sometimes, these type of transactions with deferred maintenance will require a specialized contractor with extensive experience in their field. Chris Hinkson was able to meet with the buyers and prepare a plan to complete the needed work. From the beginning Chris gave a very competitive bid & expedited timeline and stuck to it until completion. In the end, the Buyers were very happy with their experience.
HomeGuard-Home, Roof, Pest, & Home Warranty
There will also be homes where one company to service multiple inspections could be a better option for us. I have found HomeGuard to be thorough in their inspections and what I like most about them is that they will go over the findings (with pictures) in-person with you at the time of inspection. This allows you to ask the inspector any questions or concerns that you may have about what they found. With that said, their inspection fee can be slightly higher than other companies. Something else to keep in-mind when using HomeGuard is that their estimated cost for items needing repair tends to be higher than what other contractors or licensed professionals will charge.
Russo’s Chimney Sweep
Russo’s will perform an overall inspection of the chimney and clean it out as well.
RD’s Service & Repair Contractor
Let’s Start The Process
- Unless we are submitting an All Cash offer, the very first step is to be pre-approved by a mortgage lender. Every seller in our market will most likely require a pre-approval letter which states the max purchase price, your required down payment, your type of loan (Conventional, VA/FHA, etc.) and the interest rate. If you would like a recommendation, we have worked with many lenders in the past and depending on what your financing needs will be, we can forward their contact information to you. Many of the lenders that I work with can have a pre-approval letter back to us within just a day or two once they have received the necessary financial documents from you as the buyer. Typically, they can work only as fast as you can respond.
- While we are waiting for the pre-approval letter, we will set-up your First Alert This is where we can search through different properties profiles with their available pictures and quickly (or slowly) weed-out those properties outside of your Must-Have List. I prefer to wait before arranging our tour until we receive the lender’s pre-approval letter. This will prevent you from falling in love with a home that end-ups being way over our anticipated purchase price budget. Believe me, it can be a huge disappointment that will only make all other homes seem like you’re just settling.
- I will continue to search our vast network of agents who may have a pocket listing that they have not yet marketed to the public.
- Depending on your schedule, on the weekends we can meet and tour available open houses in the area. Most agents will be holding their listings open to the public between 1-4 pm. If weekdays/weeknights work better for you, I will arrange for 3 or 4 homes a day to be available for us to tour. If a home that you would like to see is currently occupied, we most likely will need to schedule an appointment with the occupants. In these instances, let’s be prepared to give 24-hours notice to the sellers.
- When we begin to tour homes, we will want to be on the lookout for “red flags” within the property. Below are web-link videos from the Home Inspection Series by BHGRE. They include Homeowner Inspecting Tips on plumbing, roofing, HVAC systems, and much more.
BHG-RE Home Inspection Series Videos.
Inspecting Your Homes Electrical Setup
Inspecting Your Attic
Inspecting Your Roof
Inspecting Your HVAC System
Checking for Mold
Walls Ceilings & Floors
Inspecting Your Doors and Windows
Inspecting Your Plumbing System
Inspecting Your Home For Asbestos
Putting In An Offer
- Once we have identified a home that you would like to submit an offer on, I will contact the agent representing the sellers to find out as much information as I can about the owners and the overall condition of the property. Some of those questions might be:
Do the sellers have any requirements that must be included in our offer for it to be accepted? This may include the need for Rent Back, Cooperation with the sellers Exchange into their new property, Close Of Escrow to be a certain date, or any other number of needs could be required.
Are there any Sellers’ Disclosures not yet posted on the MLS?
How much time will the sellers need for a response time?
If we submit an offer today, will it be presented to the sellers today?
Do you have any offers in hand? Are they above/below listing price? Do you believe the sellers will seriously consider any of them?
Is there a particular title company you or the sellers would prefer to work with?
What else can you tell me about the sellers or the property?
- I will research comparable properties and weigh all the information to determine the most effective way to structure our offer. As every property and its’ owners vary, so will the components of our offer. If we are so lucky (or not so “lucky”) that our time together sees us re-living Step #3, we could see the market shifting at times. A commitment we make to you is that we will constantly be monitoring the real estate market and adjusting our strategy as needed.
- I will email you a PDF of the offer to review. I suggest meeting with or calling me to review the offer together so that I may answer any questions or concerns that you may have.
- Signing The Offer.
I will input the offer into DocuSign, and have it emailed to you to be signed.
If you prefer to meet face-to-face, not a problem. We have many BHG offices throughout the Bay Area and can arrange to meet at your convenience.
- Presenting Our Offer
Most agents will request that all offers be submitted to their email for them to review with the sellers. If there is ever the opportunity to present our offer in person, we will. Along with our offer, we will submit your lender Pre-Approval letter and Proof of Funds. With every buyer, I highly encourage them to write a personal letter to the sellers to submit along with the offer. Ask me why.
- …………and now we lose sleep while we wait for a response.
Once Our Offer Is Accepted
- If the listing agent has not opened a pre-escrow, I will contact our escrow officer and open escrow with Old Republic Title Company. The title company will prepare a Preliminary Report which we will review. This is essentially a history report on the property to identify any liens or items that would affect the property.
- Time for disclosures. Shelley Quintero from our office will be emailing you all the Related disclosures for you to review & sign. Please keep a close eye on your email during this time for DocuSign emails coming from Escrow, our TC, or myself. DocuSign is a free program used to capture signatures from different parties in a contract. You can even use it on your smartphone once you open the email. These documents will require your signatures and are time sensitive. Please review them all very carefully, contact me with any questions and use your digital signature to accept their terms. If the property has a Home Owners Association, the seller will be required to order all documents relating to the HOA and share them with us for review.
- Contingency Removal Dates Identified. The most common contingencies are:
Our Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) into escrow – within 3 days of a ratified (all terms accepted by all parties) contract.
Buyer’s Physical Inspection – Typically 10-17 days. This is our Due Diligence period and is when we will have all desired inspections performed. Depending on the property’s location, we may also need to visit the local planning/permitting department to locate & identify the history of the property. This is where we will examine if any necessary permits were pulled and if not, what the next step is before closing escrow. Some properties may also require an inspection performed by the city or items such as an automatic gas shut-off valve be installed.
Re-negotiating due to items discovered during buyer’s inspections (if needed).
Appraisal – 14 to 17 days.
Loan – 17 to 21 days.
Final walk through for Verification Of Property (VOP) – 3 to 5 days prior to COE.
- Needed real estate documents to be acknowledged/signed and sent to the escrow.
- Loan documents, if necessary, are sent to the escrow company.
It’s Time To Close
- Prepare for the closing.
Be prepared for a flexible closing date.
-As we hit various benchmarks throughout the escrow process, some timelines may need to or be requested to be adjusted (moved up or extended) by either the sellers or by us as the buyers. In most situations, this will not have a major impact on the sale. If more time is needed by either party, a simple Extension Of Time form will be filled out and (hopefully) accepted by all parties.
Bring an official ID to the closing.
–Kristen Boyd at ORTC will contact you to schedule a time that will be convenient for you to meet at her office and sign your closing documents. I will be there alongside of you at the signing, and I want you to ask both Kristen or myself, any and all the questions that you may have.
–If it doesn’t work out for you to meet at Kristen’s office in Walnut Creek, do not worry, we can arrange for you to sign your documents at any other ORTC location that is closer to you or even send a mobile notary to meet you at a convenient location. Please keep in mind that this option does not have Kristen or myself in the same room with you for support (hey, everyone needs it by this point). However, we will always be a phone call away for any questions.
Boy Oh Boy, That Was A Lot Of Paperwork
- Once all parties have completed their signings, it will take roughly 24 hours for the sale/purchase of your home to be officially recorded by the county. This is when I get to hand you the keys to YOUR NEW HOME.
Congratulations!!! What A Ride It Was.
- I want you to know that we feel very proud & grateful that you choose us to join you this wild roller-coaster of a journey. We hope that you were provided with all the necessary information to make the right decisions for you and that we were supportive in helping you obtain the greatest value when making such a big life decision to purchase your home.
- We know that this has been a time filled with so many different emotions, but don’t worry, it’s completely normal. As your realtor, I want to do everything within my power to ensure your success when buying your home. Once we hand you the keys, I will send you an email with a Request For Your Referral. The greatest compliment that we can receive is your kind words. We want to treat you like we would treat our family when helping them buy their home, and we want everyone out there to know it.
Your House Warming Party
- I will bring the champagne, or my famous twice-baked potatoes. Your choice.
Who Does What For The Closing
- Preforms title search.
Identifies any liens against all aspects of the property.
- Underwrites the title policy.
- Provides the closing statement.
Identifies who owes/receives what monies and each parties’ net proceeds.
- Accepts & Holds buyers’ Earnest Money Deposit (EMD).
- Accepts lender funds.
- Issues pay-offs of any liens against the property.
- Issues broker’s commissions.
- Issues payment for insurance and other recording fees.
- Disperses remaining funds to the sellers.