Buyers Tips


The single biggest reason most people buy a home is the simple desire to own a home of their own. At the same time, homeowners accumulate wealth for the future while enjoying the benefits of a residence that they can use, improve and enjoy. What’s different is each individual’s wishlist of essentials; from public transportation to the number of bedrooms, we can help you create a comprehensive list and go from there.


Before deciding which house to buy, consider your lifestyle, current and anticipated housing needs and budget. It’s a good idea to create a prioritized list of features you want in your new home; you'll quickly discover finding the right house involves striking a balance between your "must-haves" and your "nice-to-haves."

If you love to cook, you'll appreciate a well-equipped kitchen. If you're into gardening or you love dogs, you'll want a yard. If a home office is a must, you’ll need a room that will provide you adequate work space. If you have several cars, you may require a larger garage. Use this list as your search guide.

Next, think about what you might need in the future, and how long you are likely to live in this particular home. If you're newly married, you might not be concerned with a school district right now, but you could be in a few years. If you have aging parents, you may want to look at homes that offer living arrangements that could accommodate them as well.

It’s important to think about your new home’s location just as carefully as its features. In addition to considering the distance to work, evaluate what matters to you in terms of services, convenience and accessibility, such as shopping, police and fire protection, medical facilities, school and daycare, traffic and parking, trash and garbage collection, even recreational facilities.

Of course, you will use the Internet to gain access to information on listings and available properties for sale.  I will be here to show you the properties that pique your interest, to analyze the home and the market data, to answer questions and share my expertise in negotiating and protecting you in the transaction. 


Do you have cash for the purchase or will you be financing the purchase of your home?  How much home can you afford? I can refer you to an excellent lender who will review your income, savings, and debt to figure out how much home you can afford.   

The lender will evaluate:
•    Your income
•    Your length of employment
•    Whether you are employed by another or self employed 
•    The funds you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves
•    Your debt
•    Your credit history
•    The type of mortgages that are available and which would be best for you
•    Do you qualify for any special programs—such as First Time Homebuyer Programs
•    Current interest rates

Once your lender determines how much loan you can qualify for, it is up to you to decide how much are you comfortable putting as a down payment and how much of a loan payment you are comfortable paying.


Evaluating a neighborhood and surrounding areas thoroughly is essential. When you buy a home, you're investing in a community. You'll spend a significant amount of time and money supporting the schools, community organizations and commercial centers in the area. Before you make the final decision, take a good look at the location and make sure it fits your lifestyle. For example:
•    Evaluate the home’s proximity to other important locations in your life. How long will your commute time be? Is there a hospital or doctor's office nearby? What about schools, childcare, shopping, family and friends?
•    Consider all of your transportation options. A new home could lend itself to public transportation options or carpooling. Depending on the type of community, you may be able to find alternative methods of transportation. Take the time to drive from the new home to your commuting destinations, to get a sense of what your daily life will be like.
•    Make sure you feel comfortable in the area. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of the day and night on multiple days of the week to observe activity and noise levels. An educated buyer is a happy one!


Buying a new home and selling an existing home at the same time has its own set of challenges. With knowledgeable planning, you can ensure everything goes smoothly.

Before putting your house on the market or committing to buying a new one, take a look at the prices of houses in the areas where you'll be selling and buying. You'll need a realistic idea of sales prices for similar houses, so you can assess both your buying and selling position.  

What if you're unable to time the sale of one house with the purchase of another? You may own no houses for a time, in which case you'll need money in the bank and a temporary place to live. Or, you may own two houses at once. That's why it's important to have a backup plan. Here are some options to consider:
•    Research short-term rental and storage options (family, friends, storage facilities, containers).
•    Bridge financing (a short-term loan) for the down payment on a new home backed by the equity in your old house.

Buying a second home isn't all that different from buying a first home. Affording it usually depends on your ability to qualify for a mortgage on the second home. Benefits include a getaway for the family on vacations or holidays, a future retirement home, or renters making your mortgage payments for you.

Keep in mind that if you declare it as a rental, your mortgage interest rate might be slightly higher and your down payment requirements will be higher than with a primary home mortgage. Work with your lender to create a customized loan program with the best combination of rate, points, and closing costs to meet your needs.


Making an offer to purchase a home has its own set of factors.  How much should you offer the sellers for their home? What other terms of the offer will make your offer a good offer in the seller’s eyes.  


Over the years I have cringed when reviewing offers I have received from agents on behalf of their clients.  You would assume it is just a low price that makes me less than anxious to present the offer to the seller.  But that is not always the case.  I can certainly appreciate a buyer trying to get the best possible deal on a property, but give the seller something to work with.  Give me something to work with!  Many buyers and agents do not realize the art involved in constructing a good offer.  The buyer’s agent will say to me:  I had to write what the buyer wanted me to write.  I believe that as an agent, my job is to assist you, the buyer to get the property.  If we immediately insult the seller by making demand after demand and giving nothing in return, chances are, we will never get you the property you want.   

The components of your offer are pretty straightforward.  They are as follows:
1.    Purchase price.
2.    Earnest money deposit.
3.    Financing.
4.    Down payment.
5.    Closing costs.
6.    Loan contingency.
7.    Appraisal contingency.
8.    Other contingencies.
9.    Termite/wood destroying pest inspection.
10.    Other inspections:  radon, physical, roof, septic, well.
11.    Time frames for inspections and contingencies.
12.    Escrow period.
13.    Title insurance.
14.    Occupancy.
15.    What’s included in sale and what is not.
16.    And other standard components of offer such as methods for removing contingencies and other such legalities.
Every component of the contract is important.  But some are going to be more important to you than others. You certainly want to clearly define what you are agreeing to and be careful to protect your interests.  In California a real estate contract must be in writing in order to be enforceable.  Make sure that you state your intentions clearly.  A good test would be:  If I had to go to court, would this contract be clear to the judge or jury?  When writing the offer you’ll have two goals:  spell out all details clearly; and craft an offer that is good for you but also has the best possible chance of getting seller approval.  If your offer is weak on price, make a large deposit and either a quick escrow if it seems that will be beneficial to the seller.  If it seems that the seller would benefit by having a longer escrow or even a rent back, then use that issue to your advantage.  Pick the components of your offer that will help you get what you want, get the home of your dreams.


Getting a Home Inspection is an important step in the buying process.  You do not want surprises after you are the homeowner.  I recommend always hiring a professional inspector to check all components of the property.  


Most sellers will pay for a one year home warranty for the buyers.  Even after a home inspection, shows all components and systems operating correctly, things happen.  Protecting yourself with this insurance will give you peace of mind after the closing.


In California ownership of the home is officially transferred to you upon recording of the Grant Deed by the County Recorder in the county in which the property is located.  Escrow handles all of the steps after signing of the Purchase Agreement to the Close of Escrow.


Here is a Home Moving Checklist.

5-6 weeks prior to Close of Escrow:
•    Purchase or rent moving supplies: tape, markers, scissors, pocketknife, newspaper, blankets, moving pads, plastic storage bins, rope and a hand truck. Free boxes can usually be obtained at a local supermarket, but consider purchasing wardrobe boxes for clothes.
•    Have a garage sale to clear out unwanted items and plan accordingly. Consider donating unwanted items.
•    Keep a detailed record of all moving expenses. Your costs (and donations) may be tax deductible depending on the reasons for your move.
2 weeks prior to Close of Escrow:
•    Hire a reputable mover or rent a moving truck. Be sure to get referrals or references, check with the Better Business Bureau, get estimates and purchase moving insurance.
•    Two weeks before moving day, contact your telephone, electric, gas, cable/satellite, refuse and water companies to set a specific date when service will be discontinued. Contact utilities companies in your new town about service start dates, including internet and telephone services.
•    Notify healthcare professionals (doctors, dentists, veterinarians) of your move and ask for referrals and record transfers.
•    Register children for school and ask for school records to be transferred.
•    Notify lawn service, cleaning and security companies when service should be terminated.
•    Advise the post office, publications and correspondents of change of address and date of move.
•    If you are financing the purchase of your new home, your lender will require that Homeowners’ Insurance is in place prior to the Close of Escrow.  If you are paying cash, obtaining your Homeowners’ Insurance is all up to you.  Do NOT close escrow without it.
Moving day:
•    Have tools handy for breaking down beds and appliances.
•    Give every room a final once over. Don't forget to check the basement, yards, attic, garage and closets.
•    Have the final payment for the movers and money for a tip.
•    Don't forget to check in with your local CENTURY 21® Agent – he or she may be able to provide useful local advice and/or referrals.

TIP: Move valuables (jewelry, legal documents, family photos and collections) yourself – don't send them with the moving company. Make sure you have a complete home inventory of all your possessions.

Purchasing a home is a huge and potentially stressful event.  I am here to direct you through this process to make it as painless and stress free as possible.  This should be an exciting and rewarding time for you.  I am here to make that happen!