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First-Time Homebuyers

The Home Buying Process | Simplified

Buying a home is most likely the biggest investment you will ever make, so being informed and knowledgeable is crucial. We work with dozens of first-time home buyers every year, so we wanted to map out and simplify the process.

Getting Pre-Approved

Meeting with a lender is the first step in the home buying process. Once you meet with an experienced and reputable mortgage lender, you will have an understanding of what you can afford and what your monthly payments will be.

One of the biggest mistakes buyers make, is beginning the house-hunting process before they are pre-approved. Make sure you have that pre-approval in hand so that when you find the home you love, you are ready to make an offer and you don’t miss out.

Finding the right lender is as important as finding the right Realtor. Looking to get pre-approved and don’t know who to speak with? Our team works with a handful of fantastic and trusted lenders. We’ve made it easy for you to contact one.


We’ve broken down and answered the most commonly asked questions that we receive from our first-time home buyer clients. Check it out on our blog here.

The Escrow Process

Once an offer is accepted and escrow is opened, here is what to expect in the days following:

  • Good Faith Deposit
    Within the next 2-3 days, the buyer will need to give their good faith deposit to escrow. Escrow will email you wiring instructions that you will need to take to your bank. Always confirm with escrow to ensure that the wiring instructions are authentic and that they came directly from escrow.

  • Verification of Funds
    The buyer will need to provide verification of funds (for down payments or cash deals) to the seller. This can be a letter from your banker or a copy of a bank statement showing the funds available (with account number removed).

  • Inspections
    The buyer will arrange for a physical home inspection within the next week, by a certified inspector who will inspect the property on the buyers’ behalf. Mike & Jessica can refer some qualified inspectors that they have used for many transactions in the past, or the buyer may choose an inspector. It is expected that the buyer and buyers’ agents will be present and the agreed upon fee will be paid at that time. You will receive a written report a day or so after. An inspector may point out many items, but it is important to focus on health and safety issues. Mike and Jessica are extremely familiar with a multitude of inspection reports and can help point out items that need attention.

  • Other – If the physical inspection indicates some other inspections may be necessary, you may want to arrange for those. All must be done before the Contingency Removal Date.

  • Wood Destroying Pest – This is generally ordered by the seller/seller’s agent if it’s specified in the purchase agreement that the seller will provide and pay for this report.

  • Loan Appraisal – Your lender will order the appraisal of the property prior to or possibly after your physical inspection. You may be asked to pay for the appraisal up front.

  • Loan – You will be working closely with your lender to provide all necessary items quickly in order to close on time.


What is Escrow?

Escrow is a service that protects the public and minimizes the potential risk involved in any real estate transaction. At its essence, escrow is the process whereby parties to the transfer or financing of real estate deposit documents, funds, or other things of value with a neutral and disinterested third party (the escrow agent), which are held in trust until a specific event or condition takes place according to specific, mutual written instructions from the parties. Escrow is essentially a clearinghouse for the receipt, exchange, and distribution of the items needed to transfer or finance real estate. When the event occurs or the condition is satisfied, a distribution or transfer takes place. When all of the elements necessary to consummate the real estate transaction have occurred, the escrow is “closed”.

Escrow Docs

Escrow will be sending the buyer & seller a separate package of documents to review, fill out and sign. These documents may include the Escrow Instructions, Preliminary Title Report, Vesting Information and Homeowner’s Insurance information.

Please make sure Mike & Jessica have your current mailing address to provide escrow with and check your mail daily for these important documents.


There are many disclosures that are required by the state of California when transferring real property. Be sure to check your email frequently for disclosures that need signing.

Sellers must fill out required disclosures to the best of their knowledge and provide to the buyer as soon as possible. Mike & Jessica will provided and explain the disclosures in detail as they are collected.


Here are some of the standard costs for buyers and sellers throughout a real estate transaction. These are not set costs and may be adjusted depending on the terms of the sale. Give us a call for more information.

Standard Buyer Costs

  • Loan Appraisal: Typically between $300-$400

  • Home Inspection: Cost based on square footage, typically between $300-$500

  • Closing Costs: Dependent on your loan terms, taxes etc. Closing costs typically amount to 1.5% of the purchase price, but may vary. Call us or your lender for more information on closing costs credits etc.

  • Escrow Fees: Typically split between buyer & seller. Many escrow companies charge $2 per thousand (of the purchase price) + a $200 base fee.

  • Down Payment: Dependent on your loan

Standard Seller Costs (Contact us if you would like a custom ‘Seller Estimated Net Sheet’ sent to you)

  • Marketing/Broker Commissions

  • Mortgage Payoff (If applicable)

  • Title Insurance

  • Transfer Tax

  • Property Taxes

  • Home Warranty (If requested by buyer): $500-$800

  • Natural Hazard Disclosure: $100

  • Termite Inspection/Clearance

  • HOA Document/transfer Fee (If applicable)

  • Escrow Fees: Typically split between buyer & seller. Many escrow companies charge $2 per thousand (of the purchase price) + a $200 base fee.

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