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The Home Buying Process
and Getting Started

The process is really not that complicated. It is my job to make the entire home buying process as convenient as possible for you. Getting started is easy. Just complete the first three steps listed below and then give me a call to begin step 4. As soon as you complete the first three quick-and-easy steps listed below, which are: 1) Check your credit,
2) Determine your price range, and 3) Check your expectations, give me a call so I can begin step 4 and qualify you for an exact amount and locate all of the financial assistance programs that are available for you.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Here are the steps to buying your first home:
  1. Call Me First and we will complete the following steps. You can reach me at my toll-free telephone number: 1-866-Swift-Source
  2. Check Your Credit Report. Click Here. Make sure there are no unknown surprises on your credit report before you begin the home buying process.
  3. Determine Your Approximate Price Range on the Quick Qualifying Chart. It is very important that your expectations are realistic right from the start of the process.
  4. Check Your Expectations. Look At Homes In Your Price Range by clicking  the Cheapest Home In Each Area. Do you see anything in your price range that you like? 
  5. Get Financially Qualified. I will qualify you for an exact amount and I will also determine all of the Financial Assistance Programs that you can qualify for. During this step I may ask you to provide income documentation such as, for example, your most recent paystub.  I may also ask for other documentation as well depending upon your specific situation. I will take a compete loan application from you and also create a credit report, even if you have already done so. I will also provide you with a Good Faith Estimate of the closing costs that can be expected with the loan. I provide a Written Guarantee that the Closing Costs will not exceed what is listed on my Good Faith Estimate.
  6. Decide On The Right Loan. Once we know exactly how much you can qualify to borrow and what first-time homebuyer financial assistance programs you can qualify for, we can clarify the loan package that will be used toward this purchase. We will discuss all of the possibilities of loans that are available to you. It is my job as the loan officer to make your fully aware of and completely understand everything about the loans that you are evaluating. After we figure out which  loan or combination of loans will best suit your goals, we can start looking at homes. Here is a list of First-Time Homebuyer Financial Assistance Programs, Recommended Conventional Loan Programs, and Not Recommended Conventional Loan Programs.
  7. Start Home Shopping. Once we have the loan package determined, we are ready to begin home shopping. This is the fun part. We'll get back on the MLS and every other source of homes for sale and pick out the ones that appeal to you the most. You'll need to have a good idea of where you want to live and what major attributes you really need in your first home. Click here for a Good List of Possible Attributes for your first home.
  8. Research The Best Homes. When you have determined what homes in your price range appeal to you the most, I can start researching each one of your choices and provide you with a complete picture of each home. I will research the Neighborhoods, Schools, call the seller's agent, and use every tool that I as a Realtor have at my disposal to provide you with every bit of information available about each property that you are interested. I often visit each property myself during this phase. Before you even visit any of your prospective properties, you will be thoroughly informed about each one. Here are some Tips For Finding The Perfect Neighborhood.
  9. Visit Your Top Choices. Now it is time to start looking at properties. This is a very enjoyable part of the home buying process. You will be surprised at how much better you will like some properties than others, even though they may appear to be very similar on the MLS. It is best to see as many properties as possible in the shortest possible period of time. If all of the properties are seen within a relatively short time frame, it will be easier for you to compare them because you will remember each one. Here are links to the Cheapest Properties In Each Area, All Fixer-Upper Properties Listed On The MLS, All REO (Bank-Owner Foreclosure) Properties Listed on The MLS, and the Actual MLS Itself.
  10. Put Together Offer Plan. When you have visited three or four properties that you really like, we are ready to make offers on each one. It is good to make offers on more than one property in case your first choice doesn't come through. If you have several properties that you would like to make offers on, it is best to make those offers at approximately the same time. The more sellers that you negotiate with at one time, the more leverage you have with each seller because you have more alternatives.
  11. Finalize Offers. We will discuss the offers that we will make to each seller in great detail. It is the main job of your agent to negotiate the lowest and best price for you. Price is not the only item of negotiation. Here is a list of the Many Other Points Of Negotiation in a real estate transaction. Ultimately it is my job to negotiate the lowest and best price for you.
  12. Submit Offers and Negotiate. I will submit the offers on your behalf to the sellers' agents. Normally the sellers will reply with counter-offers. The offer / counter-offer stage of a transaction can sometimes go on for quite a while until both sides have reached agreement. When either side accepts the other side's initial offer or a subsequent counter-offer, we have an accepted offer. The ideal situation is to have multiple accepted offers at one time so we can choose the one that you like the best. That is why we try to submit all offers to sellers as close together in time as possible.
  13. Begin Due Diligence. With an accepted offer in hand, we begin the due diligence process and the loan approval process. Due diligence is your evaluation of the property. You ordinarily have 17 days to complete due diligence of the property. This period is called the contingency period. During the contingency period you can cancel the transaction at any time and get your earnest money deposit back. After the contingency period is over, the seller normally has a right to keep your earnest money deposit. It is not that easy for a seller to keep the earnest money deposit, but the purchase contract grants them the right to do that.
  14. Schedule Your Inspections. During the contingency period, you will have every inspection performed that you think necessary. You always want to have a basic home inspection no matter what. You want to be present with the inspectors during the inspections as well. During the home inspection, you will learn more about your new home during the two-hour inspection than you probably would on your own in two years. Here's What Your Home Inspection Should Cover. You want to have your inspections completed as soon as possible in the contingency period.
  15. Get Loan Conditions Satisfied. During the contingency period you will also be working with your loan officer to get the loan approved and closed. Long ago before you submitted your offer to the seller, the loan officer will have run your credit and verified your income, assets, and employment. Your choice of loan options was determined by this information. The loan officer should have a full loan approval from the lender during the early part of the contingency period. After that, the loan officer is working to satisfy loan conditions that the lender has set for your loan. during the loan approval process, it is very likely that the lender will request further documentation from you. When the loan officer requests information or documentation from you, it is very important that you produce the information or documentation as quickly as you can. The clock is ticking while you are in the contingency period.
  16. Prepare For The Close. When the lender is satisfied that all of the loan conditions have been met, you will be ready to close your loan. When people refer to the "Closing," they are speaking about the final signing of all of the loan documents. Your loan officer will know provide you with a document called an Estimated Closing Statement. This is drafted by the escrow company and is the escrow company's best estimate of  all of the closing costs associated with your loan. If the Good Faith Estimate that is the loan officer's best estimate of closing costs that was presented to you at the very beginning of the transaction was prepared honestly and correctly, the should be no closing cost surprises appearing on the Estimated Closing Statement. I provide a Written Guarantee of the Closing Costs that I list on my Good Faith Estimate. You will not have closing cost surprises if I am your loan officer.
  17. Review The Estimated Closing Statement. The Estimated Closing Statement will tell you if you have to bring any money to the close. If you do, you will have to get that money in the form of a cashier's check made out to the escrow company.
  18. Schedule Closing Appointment. The lender will draw up your loan documents and send them to the escrow company. The escrow company will then forward the loan documents to the notary that will oversee the loan document signing, sometimes called "the close." The notary will contact you to set up a convenient time and place for the loan signing. Often the loan signing will be held at the escrow company's office. You can request that the notary do the loan signing in your home, but this can cost you another $50 to $100 in closing costs.
  19. Sign Loan Documents. The loan signing will take at least one hour. There are a lot of documents to sign. The loan officer should be present at the loan signing to answer any last minute questions regarding the loan.
  20. Deed Of Trust Gets Recorded. Within one or two days after the loan documents are signed, the lender will fund the loan and the escrow company will record the deed of trust at the county recording office. When people speak about "The Deed" to a property, this is what they are referring to. You will receive a copy of this Deed of Trust that was filed at the county recorder.
  21. Perform The Final Walk-Through. Before you officially take possession of the property, you will want to do a Final Walk-Through of the property with your agent. The purpose of the Final Walk-Through is to verify that the property is in the condition you expected and that you negotiated in the purchase contract.
  22. Take Possession. When you are satisfied with the property's condition, you can take possession and move in. This is the big moment you've been waiting for. The Realtor hands you the keys and your first home is yours!

Click on the link below to see a list of every party involved in your purchase, what they do, and how they get paid:

All of the People Who Will Work With You During The Purchase Of Your First Home, how each one gets paid, and what they do.



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Brought To You By
Mark Harmon, Realtor

CalHFA Preferred Loan Officer
USA Realty and Loans

Brokerage Main Office
3994 Carson St.
San Diego, CA 92117