Buying property can be one of the five most difficult things for anyone to ever do. There is so much to be aware of in choosing a home as well as the escrow process. I have conducted Buyer Seminars in the past and hope that these notes will help guide you in the proper direction. When you have finished reading and feel that you are ready to begin then please be sure to contact me and register for a complimentary consultation. The purpose of the initial appointment is to understand your” wants and needs” as a buyer. This may be the most crucial meeting of the home buying process. During the appointment the entire purchasing pathway will be discussed.
Home Buyer’s Seminar
Deciding to buy- There are many reasons why people decide to buy a home. For some it is what they should do because Mom and Dad did it. For others it is a good investment tool for their future. However, most people I talk to just want to own their own property, their home, their investment property. Deciding to buy is not a decision taken lightly. With the right direction and help it can be the most important and empowering choice of their life.
- What does the “Home” mean to you?- This is a question I ask all of my potential property buyers to ask of themselves. There is no correct answer but the truth in it will help greatly in locating the right property for you. Be aware that most people go through life changes every 6 years or so and I suggest it a good idea to plan for the future.
- What amenities are important to you? – This is the basics; how many bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen type, sun exposure, views, schools, garage, style, neighborhood, fireplace, pool, play area, fixer, etc….. The list is endless. I usually ask Buyers to make a list and prioritize it. Then ask your selves what you absolutely have to have and what would you like to have. It is ok if you do not know exactly. Some people just want the home to “feel” right. It is a good idea to go out exploring with your agent.
Committing to one Agent- This is a very important step. I strongly advise that it is best to commit to One Agent and to have that agent commit to you. Most agents talk with several people about buying property. They will always favor the clients who are committed to them. I do. When someone is committed to me to represent them in the purchase of their property, I put them on the “short list”. Point Blank, when that good buy comes along in the hot market they get the call answered.
BRE License Check- Click this hyperlink to go to the DRE website to check to see an Agents good standing. When the page loads, fill in the agent’s name and then click find. Click on the agent’s number and then you will see a page about the agent’s status. It is a clever idea to know who is working for you.
Financing- The financing of a home or income property is one of the most important decisions for a Buyer to make. This decision could have a major effect on their lives for the next thirty years or so as well as potential added stress to the escrow. I advise all buyers to speak with at least one if not three mortgage brokers concerning available rates, what types of paper work will be needed to secure the financing, what time frames they can work within and how compatible you are with them and they with you. I also recommend that you only run your credit report once and obtain a copy of it to pass on to additional potential lenders. Multiple credit checks may lower your credit score. Click Here to go to my Financing page with recommendations for mortgage brokers.
Knowing the areas and communities- The biggest factor for most people about their home or investment property is the location. I am sure you have heard the old adage, “Location, location, location”. It is a good idea to explore the areas and get a good feel for them. It is also a good idea to keep a watch on the market in your targeted areas. Here my Home Alert site will come in useful.
- Schools- Marin has very good schools available. Consult with your agent about what schools would be the best fit for your situation. Even if you do not have children in school, good schools and school districts tend to keep better property values for their neighborhoods. If you would prefer to do your own research, Click here to go to the school links page.
- Churches- Marin has a wide variety of places of worship. Click here to go to the marin.org resource list for Marin.
- Commuting- Commuting through Marin can be quite challenging as with any other thriving metropolis. It can also be quite bearable. Check with your agent about respective commute times from potential cities if you are unsure. If you are commuting to the San Francisco Financial District I suggest checking out Golden Gate Transit. The commuter busses have convenient routes and stops, and I always seem to see the commuters standing in line at the stops. My favorite method of traveling to SF is on the Larkspur Ferry. It is a nice ride with cocktail service available. Click here to go to the website for the GGT.
- Shopping- Marin has convenient shopping centers throughout as well as being close to San Francisco for major shopping excursions. To locate my favorite stores, businesses and restaurants I go to my blog, www.dtmtop30.com to see my list of the best places.
Locating “Your” home- Once you are emotionally, financially and physically ready to buy, the real search process begins. Your agent will help you with this process. They should have a lockbox key or be able to make arrangements to show you potential properties. Here to I suggest using my website to see the new listings in real time.
- Writing offer- Once you locate your property, it is time to write the offer. The offer is written on a standard purchase contract where the appropriate blanks are filled in. Your agent should be very familiar with the contract and how to use it to best protect your rights and concerns. Once you sign the offer, you will be expected to provide a good faith deposit to escrow upon acceptance. This can be electronically wired into the escrow account after the contract is ratified. Don’t forget to include a Home Warranty in your contract.
- Negotiating- The negotiating of the contract is the bringing together of the Buyers and Sellers desires for the terms and conditions of the sale of the property. This can be very complicated and almost always is very emotional. Sometimes there are “Multiple Offers” and sometimes only one. Your agent can best inform you as to the current market trends. I ask my Buyers to be available by phone and e-mail during this process.
- Opening Escrow- Once your offer is successfully negotiated and accepted, your agent will open escrow with the Escrow Officer/ Title Agent (in the Bay Area it is usually one in the same). The Initial Deposit can be wired to the Escrow Officer. The time clock begins…
Escrow Process- The escrow process usually seems like a rollercoaster ride. I set up a time line on a calendar for my clients so that they know what steps we will be taking and when. It is important to keep watch of the time so as not to be in breach of contract and possibly forfeit the deposit. It is very important to start searching for home Insurance just after opening escrow. If you don’t already have a local insurance agent, check on the Resource List for some suggestions.
- TDS- During beginning of the escrow you will receive the Disclosure Statements. Once you receive them you will have a few days as set forth in the contract to review them if they were not part of the disclosure package received prior to writing the offer. If you have any additional questions after reviewing them, I advise to put the questions in writing and have them sent to the Seller ASAP within the disclosure time period. If you find anything objectionable, this would be the appropriate time to get out.
- Discovery- I call the inspection process the Discovery Period. During this time (as set forth in the contract) you will have the ability to perform any inspections that you deem necessary to understand the property and items concerning the value. This could include: Pest Inspection, Home Inspection, Soils Engineer, Chimney Inspection, PG&E Courtesy Inspection, Roof Inspection, Structural Engineer, City/County permit review, Clue Report (Insurance Claims), School District, Police Reports for the neighborhood, or anything else that may be of concern to you. Resource List
- Loan Approval- The contract will stipulate a specified number of days for the Loan Approval. This means that the mortgage broker needs to have the lender approval by this time which will require an appraisal and in most cases all of your financial data.
- Deposits- As specified by the contract, there will be a time in which an increase of deposit will be needed. Generally, if this is within less than 10 days of closing the escrow officer will ask for money wire transfer. Just before close of escrow there will be an additional amount of funds required to close escrow. At the “signing”, the escrow officer will give this figure to you.
- The “Signing”- The Signing is the term we use for when the Buyer goes to the escrow office to sign the loan papers. At this time they will review the escrow account and reconciliation of funds. The Buyer(s) need to bring with them a driver’s license or other acceptable form of ID so that the escrow officer can Notarize their signature. Most signings take about an hour.
Closing- The closing is when the escrow officer has received all funds to close and sent the deeds out to be recorded. When we have confirmation of the recording the escrow is considered to have “Closed”.
- Keys- You will receive the keys to your new home property either at time of closing or when the Sellers have vacated after a rent back. I strongly advise to change the locks or re-key all locks when you move into your new home. Resource List
- Moving- Moving is my least favorite part. It is not fun in my book, but it does allow for some much-needed purging and organizing. I suggest to start packing well in advance of the move. There will be so much required of your time during the last few days before closing. I also recommend to hire a professional, licensed and insured mover. Start shopping around for a mover 3 to 4 weeks in advance of the move. Resource List
- Setting up Utilities- Setting up utilities in advance is important to do in advance. Many times during the year the telephone, cable and dsl companies are backed up for weeks in advance. Resource List