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10 Steps To Buy A Home in Sonoma or Marin County

Here’s a step-by-step guide to purchase a home in a timely manor. Follow the steps in the order listed and you will likely be living in your new home within 60-90 days!


1. Get Your Ducks In A Row

Knowing what you want in a home is only half the row of ducks. Neighborhood, schools (or not), proximity to amenities, one level or two? This is really a quality of life conversation you need to have with yourself and your partner. How do you envision your life 5 or 10 years from now and how does this house purchase fit in? Warning, skipping this step will cost 3 months of wasted time.


2. Knowledge Is Power - Understanding The Cost

When it comes to understanding what your budget is, there is power in knowing the details. Most real estate is dictated by current market conditions. Is it a seller's market, a buyer's market or how about interest rates? Thus, your budget becomes an essential tool for you to get focused on the homes or property you can afford. Speak to a mortgage broker. If you don’t know one, I have a referral for you.


3. Create A Relationship With A Realtor, ASAP

This is a very important step and often overlooked or postponed. Your relationship with your Realtor will be the number one reason your purchase succeeds or fails. Whether you find a Realtor online, via a personal referral or at an open house, ask to spend time with the Realtor. Schedule an appointment with a face-to-face meeting. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions about the current market, hear suggestions for preparation to purchase and get a general feel for compatibility AND gives your Realtor the opportunity to learn more about what you’re looking for and your budget. At the end of the conversation, you should expect to feel pretty comfortable with the Realtor’s communication style and ability to transfer relevant information to you. You could possibly also leave with a plan on how to move forward if you feel you are a good match for one another. At this point you could set up an appointment for viewing homes as well.


4. Share Mortgage Info Early

Give your Realtor your mortgage broker’s contact information and the pre-approval letter you received verifying your loan terms and spending limit. A conversation between the Realtor and mortgage broker will facilitate a quicker purchase and a competitive offer.


5. Write A List Of ‘Must Haves’ And ’Nice To Have' Features For Your Home

This is very important to do BEFORE you start looking at homes. Armed with a check list you can make an informed decision if you are swayed yet willing to let go of one of your ‘must haves’. Rarely does a home have everything on your checklist, so knowing what is a must have vs. nice to have will help you understand the housing stock and when to wait for what you want.


6. Build A Wish List Profile

Speak with your Realtor about setting up an online listing update search for homes that meet your criteria. These emails will come to you when a new home that meets your search criteria comes on the market. Visit these homes with your Realtor or at a Sunday Open House. Request the same kind of email for updates of ‘sold’ homes. This will inform you of what the homes with your parameters sell for and how long they were on the market.


7. Do Drive-By's

Drive to homes that interest you and check out the neighborhood. This is a very good use of your time and eliminates viewing homes in the neighborhoods that don’t appeal to you.


8. Look Beyond The Home

When visiting homes with your Realtor, you have the opportunity to be educated about the neighborhood and home as well as how the home meets your overall check list. This also gives the Realtor the opportunity to listen to your likes and dislikes.


9. Narrowing The Gap - And Don't Wait For The Unicorn

By the time you’ve seen 10 to 15 homes, you should be able to make an informed decision as to whether to write an offer on any of the 15 homes you saw or any homes that comes on the market. I say 15 homes because most buyers don't realize there are around 15 different kinds of homes in their preferred market area. Once you've seen all of them, come to the realization that the UNICORN house will never show up. And if it does, every other buyer will be at the offer table at the same time.


10. Understand Your Market Conditions

In a seller's market it’s a process of elimination not a process of selection. In a buyer’s market, it’s a process of selection not elimination. This is largely due to the amount of available inventory and the cost of money.






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