Buyer's Guide

A Step-by-Step First Time Buyer's Guide

Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones of your life. To prepare yourself for this moment, you need to know what to expect during the process. This step-by-step first time buyer’s guide created by your agent will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help you enjoy the journey as much as possible.

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Step 1: Research

Do you already know where you want to buy? If you want a condo, townhome, or single-family home? Which features do you like and dislike? What’s available on the market now? If you answered no to any of these questions, now is the time to start researching. In addition to looking for homes that interest you, also take note of any changes in asking prices. This could give you valuable insight into housing trends in specific neighborhoods and help you when the time comes to make an offer.

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Step 2: Decide on Your Budget

Notice I said to decide on your budget—not determine how much the mortgage company will give you. In many cases, a mortgage company will pre-approve you for more than you’re comfortable spending, which is why you need to determine the monthly payment you feel comfortable with before talking to a lender. This likely includes doing a full household budget and taking into consideration what changes other than a mortgage payment will occur once you move into your new home. If you’ve lived in an apartment or with roommates, you may overlook new expenses like garbage, water, or HOA fees that could easily blow your budget.

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Step 3: Get Prequalified

Just because you think you can afford a certain payment every month doesn’t mean the mortgage company will agree. Just as they may approve you for too large of an amount, they may also approve you for a lesser amount or deny you a mortgage altogether. Lack of time at a job, insufficient credit, past bankruptcies, or other financial issues can cause major problems when trying to secure a mortgage. Before you get your heart set on a home, talk to a mortgage professional to find out what amount you can qualify for. This will also be an advantage when you make an offer on a home, as some sellers won’t entertain offers from those who aren’t already prequalified for a loan.

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Step 4: Choose a Real Estate Agent

Can you shop for, look at, and ultimately make an offer on a home without a real estate agent? Technically yes, but why would you when it costs you nothing for an agent like me to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will I help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but I also have a knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. I may be able to steer you away from certain homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.

My goal is to provide you with the most personalized service that is designed to help you buy your dream home.

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Step 5: Find the Right Home

This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). I will arrange showings of homes you’re interested in that are within your price range. Take notes about what you like and don’t like, and make sure to pay attention to details. Turn light switches on and off, open and close doors, and run the faucets in various rooms. Don’t limit your inspection to the home itself. Make sure to take time to explore the neighborhood and keep an eye on traffic at certain times of the day, the parking situation, and how close it is to necessities like schools and grocery stores.

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Step 6: Make an Offer

Once you have selected the perfect home, work with your agent to craft a fair offer based on the value of comparable homes on the market. Depending on what the home is listed at and whether the current environment is a buyer’s or seller’s market, your offer may be below, at, or even above the asking price. I will be able to help you negotiate if you receive a counteroffer and reach an agreement. At this point, the house will go into escrow.

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Step 7: Have the Home Inspected

In most cases, your offer will be contingent on having the home inspected to ensure there is no major structural damage or large repairs needed. I can help you arrange this, and you can schedule it within days of making an offer. If there are no major issues, the process goes to step eight. If there is, you can renegotiate your offer based on what needs to be fixed, or you can withdraw it.

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Step 8: Select Your Loan

Now is the time to go back to the mortgage lender who pre-approved or pre-qualified you and choose your mortgage. You will be presented with various options based on your unique financial situation, including fixed-rate, variable-rate, 15-year, 30-year, or special programs such as VA loans or FHA loans. Work with your mortgage lender to select the option you feel the most comfortable with.

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Step 9: Get a Home Appraisal

Your lender will have your new home appraised so they have their independent value of it. The appraisal is to ensure that all parties involved are paying a fair price for the house.

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Step 10: Finish Paperwork

No one looks forward to all the paperwork involved in buying a home, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Fortunately, everything will be arranged by your lender and title company and, when you’re finished, you’ll know you are the legal owner of your new home.

Congratulations!

After signing the final paperwork to complete the purchase, you are now the owner of a new house. It may take a few days for your loan to be funded once the paperwork has been returned to the lender, but once that check is delivered to the seller, you’ll be all set to move into the home of your dreams. 

Testimonials

Dan M.

Dan M.

Chris always comes with his A game, is very knowledgeable, and goes above and beyond. He also responds in a timely manner. Very professional, experienced, and helpful. Highly recommend.
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Thomas J.

Thomas J.

Chris did a wonderful job of showing homes in the Summerset development of Brentwood. Highly recommended. With a shortage of homes to show Chris showed us a number of homes for four straight weeks.
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Seller

Seller

Chris helped me sell my house and buy a new one in Sonoma County. I interviewed three agents and Chris was the only one that did his homework and came prepared. His marketing was excellent and sold my house above asking in 7 da...
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Donald S.

Donald S.

I have worked with Chris, and he definitely knows how to streamline the purchase of your new home. He is proactive and works with intent and a sense of urgency to meet expectations for a great home-buying experience. I would hi...
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Seller

Seller

Chris did a fantastic job in selling our home in two weeks' time. He was very efficient and timely throughout the process from listing to closing. Always available for questions and problems and he solved quite a few for us. Th...
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Heidy M.

Heidy M.

We bought our first home and Chris was our REALTOR, I told Chris what I was looking for and he was very helpful. He understood exactly what we were looking for, and with his experience and knowledge, Chris made this process ver...
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Terry B.

Terry B.

Chris helped me sell my home, he was very responsive to my needs and concerns. The buyer of the home had an FHA loan and there were a lot of hoops to jump through. Chris was very helpful with this process and patient with my fr...
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Sandra W.

Sandra W.

When it came down to wanting to purchase a home I knew Chris was the one to call. He was patient with us and I looked at many homes trying to find the right one. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work with Chris on many...
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

Chris is very knowledgeable in the Brentwood area. He not only helped us sell our home in Antioch, but he also found a buyer in less than a week. He also helped us find our perfect home. He is very helpful with questions and co...
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Jonathan C.

Jonathan C.

I have had the pleasure of working alongside Christopher and his knowledge and background in Real Estate is second to none. Christopher and I have worked on many transactions together and the process is always simple and smooth...
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Camille S.

Camille S.

I was home searching for approximately 5 months prior to contacting Chris. During our first meeting, he was able to show me 5-6 properties in one weekend. Within two weeks my home-buying process has begun. Chris is extremely kn...
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Sam G.

Sam G.

Knowledgeable, dedicated, and responsive. Within minutes, he gets the sale done. It was amazing working with this charismatic gentleman and I recommend you buy from him or with him. He works with you and for you. He definitely ...
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Seller

Seller

Chris recently helped with the sale of our home and I was so pleased to have him on our team. He went above and beyond to make sure the process was effortless on our side. Communication is very key in real estate and this is so...
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Aziz R.

Aziz R.

I hired Chris as my REALTOR after interviewing two others. His knowledge of the market and the sales process made me extremely comfortable during this stressful process. He marketed my property very well and was very hands-on d...
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Buyer

Buyer

Two words, amazingly awesome. Chris is more than five stars. He went over and beyond for us. He treated us like family. Showed us compassion, dedication, trust, honesty, commitment, and more. Every time he showed us a house he ...
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Irene

Irene

Chris just helped us sell our home in Brentwood. We had some contingencies to deal with as we were also in the process of buying another home. Chris was great about listening to what our major concerns were and taking all that ...
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Jenny O.

Jenny O.

This man is a S.H.A.R.K. He is sharp, helpful, accessible, reliable, and knowledgeable. In short, he's the one you want to be on your side, whether you're buying, selling, or renting a home. I've worked with him in the past, an...
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