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

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Buyer

I was new to buying real estate and had only vague expectations of what a real estate agent should do. Cassie fulfilled all those and many more needs I wasn’t even aware of. She paid close attention to what I wanted. She steere...
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Steve L.

Cassie did a fabulous job finding a home that met all my requirements for the size and condition of the home, the area, and the cost. It turned out to be a short sale property and I found her to be an expert with this type of p...
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Casey F.

Cassie is, without a doubt, a subject-matter expert when it comes to local real estate. That makes her great, but doesn't set her apart from the other top agents. What does set her apart is her creativity, intelligence, and per...
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Jerry

After interviewing three very qualified Realtors®, we hired Cassie Maas to sell our home in the Santa Cruz mountains. We had owned the home for over forty years, and it had been completely rebuilt over time. This raised some co...
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Seller

Cassie represented my property for sale in Los Gatos CA in the latter part of 2014. The property had been marketed on and off for several years with different agents. I am a State resident, and although available by phone and e...
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Buyer

Hey there, just bought a house with Cassie Maas as my agent. The house I picked had been foreclosed on and was a bank-owned property. Right up front, Cassie warned me that these properties could take two to three months to clos...
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Seller

I highly recommend Cassie Maas as a real estate agent. She recently handled the sale of our home in the Santa Cruz mountains and did an excellent job. She knows the area and the differences with mountain homes (septic tanks, we...
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Donna B.

A mortgage broker I know recommended Cassie and I have already recommended her to a friend in a similar situation of needing to sell the home of a deceased parent. I found her extremely helpful in guiding us through the steps t...
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Kenneth W.

Cassie and I discussed the strategy of how best to purchase our new home. After listening to my ideas, Cassie suggested another approach. Her ideas made a huge difference and I am happy to say that Cassie's negotiation skills h...
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Seller

A big reason Cassie became one of two Realtors® that sold our Scotts Valley home is why I recommend her services: She sells a lot of mountain properties. And mountain properties have unique characteristics - both physically and...
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Buyer

Cassie helped us find our house 3 years ago when we had a baby on the way so she knows how to work under a deadline. She provided excellent service in identifying our tastes and preferences to pick out houses that were right in...
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Bryan

I received a recommendation from a friend to contact Cassie, and I always view friend recommendations very highly. This was another good recommendation. Finding houses in this market with low inventory wasn't particularly easy,...
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Dave

I never personally met Cassie. She was recommended by a long-time mortgage broker friend of the family. My sister and I selling our parent's home agreed with every recommendation she made. She handled everything since we did no...
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John L.

Cassie and her crew of professional staffers, including photography, videography, staging, and aerial videography created a story-book view of my home and made it possible for me to sell my home for $200k more than anyone would...
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Tristan Y.

Buying a home in the bay area is a very daunting task. Cassie was the ray of light in what otherwise was a very stressful transition from Wisconsin to the Bay Area. She reviewed our priorities for home and utilized remote showi...
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Jeff

Cassie Maas uses an automated email alert system to notify prospective buyers of changes in property listings, and I used this system to make a highly advantageous real estate purchase. During the purchase process, Cassie was a...
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Buyer

Total real estate pro. Cassie has an incredible network to assist as needed with all aspects to close real estate transactions. Represented us as Buyers and the transaction was thorough and handled details quickly. Look no furt...
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Beda H.

Cassie listed our home in a challenging area of the Santa Cruz mountains and there were already two homes for sale on the street. Cassie also listed another home on our street. She arranged for all four homes to be open at the ...
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Cliff M.

Cassie took much time to market the property using many methods. Most importantly she showed up to numerous open houses. Her efforts made all the difference in this being a successful transaction. I believe she will make the sa...
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Grethe

Cassie was very helpful and efficient. Her local market knowledge was very good and she gave me good and reliable advice. She was a very pleasant person to work with. I can highly recommend Cassie Maas as a real estate professi...
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Work With Cassandra

She has prepared offers on behalf of her buyers that have helped her buyers succeed in a multiple offer situation to get the home even when they were not the highest offer.

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