Buying Your Sonoma County Home


Making a decision to buy a home can be exciting and terrifying all in the same moment. We get it, we've been there! If you think you are the first potential buyer who needs to be talked off a ledge, you are mistaken. Buying a home is most likely the most expensive purchase you will ever make and the process may seem daunting in the beginning. Don't worry, we are here to help, it's what we do best.

How will you pay for your home?

Buying your sonoma county homeThe first question that needs to be addressed is: How will you pay for your home? If the answer is that you will be needing a loan, then we can help with that. We know the best lenders in Sonoma County, lenders who will have your back at every turn. We recommend LOCAL lenders who we know personally and trust with our clients.

What is the value of a pre-approval letter?

If you will be obtaining a loan to buy a home, you will need a pre-approval letter in hand before you can submit an offer to purchase a home. A seller will not entertain an offer without one. The pre-approval letter is essential before you even start to look at homes for several reasons. First, your agent will need to know what TYPE of loan you are approved for. Not every home for sale can be purchased with a VA loan. Not every home for sale can be purchased with an FHA loan. We know which homes qualify based on what type of loan you have been approved for. Second, we need to know the price range that you are not only qualified for, but what you feel comfortable with. Just because you have been approved for a certain amount, doesn't mean you will be comfortable with the monthly monetary commitment a home purchase will bring. It is important to us that you feel good about moving forward before taking your next step.

Creating your wish list

buying your sonoma county homeThis is where the fun begins, creating your wish list. You have probably heard the term "location, location, location" which is a good place to start. Sonoma County has 8 cities and many small communities to choose from, all of which are very different from one another. Some things to consider when determining the best location are:

  • Schools
  • Medical Clinics and Hospitals
  • Transportation
  • Golf Courses, Tennis Courts, Gyms
  • Shopping
  • Places of Worship
  • Family

Once you determine the areas in which you want to focus, it will help us greatly if you can describe the home you are looking for. This includes:

  • Number of levels (single level homes are super popular right now)
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • If you want a two story house, do you need a bedroom downstairs?
  • Do you require a garage. If so, how big?
  • How about a Granny unit?
  • Do you have accessibility requirements?
  • Would you like air conditioning?
  • Do you want a pool or room for a pool?
  • Do you need a back yard for children or perhaps a large dog?
  • How large of a home do you want to take care of?

Now that you have your pre-approval letter, an idea of where you want to live and what your dream house will look like, it's time to go look at some homes.

How will I know what the neighborhood and neighbors are like?

Buying your sonoma county homeThis process is actually easier than you might think. Visit a neighborhood you are interested in, at different times during the day and night. You'll find out when people get home from work. You'll find out where the party house is, who has dogs, who has kids, who owns a Harley and who has turned their garage into a Raider Nation man cave. Don't be shy about walking down the street and engaging the home owners in conversation on a Saturday afternoon. Ask how long they have lived there, how they like the neighborhood, what they like best, what they would change if they could. You'll hit pay dirt if you happen to stumble upon the resident Gladys Kravitz. If you are a long distance buyer and can't physically do this, we'll do it for you.

How do I determine an offer price?

Ultimately, it is up to the buyer to determine an offer price, but we will help you every step of the way. When you find a home you want to put an offer on, we will put together a comparative market analysis for you. A comparative analysis consists of homes that have recently sold that are near and similar to the home you are interested in. This gives us an idea of what a home would appraise for. Another search of homes currently on the market that again are near and similar to the one you wish to buy will tell us if market prices are trending in one direction or another.

Although the offer price is important, it isn't always the selling factor. We try to find out what the sellers' motivation is so as to formulate an offer strategy. Some sellers would like a very quick close, some are looking for a buyer who will take care of their rose garden, some sellers have a soft spot for animals. We have won multiple offer situations by humanizing the purchase offer, letting the seller know about the family that wishes to buy and care for their home when they're gone. We love to negotiate. If the seller has a soft spot, we'll find it!

What is a contingency and why do I need them?

The California purchase contract has several built-in contingencies including:

  • Inspections
  • Receipt of Home Owners Association Documentation (if applicable)
  • Appraisal
  • Final Loan Approval

A contingency simply means that the sale is contingent on something happening. The sale is contingent on the home appraising for at least what you offered to buy it for. The sale is contingent on you getting final loan approval. The sale is contingent on the buyer being satisfied with the outcome of the inspections and/or requests for repair. If something doesn't pass a contingency test, you have the option to cancel the contract without penalty, meaning your deposit will be returned to you.

Any number of contingencies can be added to the contract, such as needing to sell your current residence in order to buy a new one. The seller can add contingencies as well, such as needing to rent back from the buyer after the close of the sale, or delaying the close of sale until they can find a replacement property.

What happens after an offer is accepted?

buying your sonoma county homeYay ... you are in contract! The purchase offer has built-in contractual timelines that must be met by both the seller and buyer. The seller will be forwarding any known material facts in the form of disclosures. For the buyer, it's time for inspections. Sometimes the seller has inspections done on their house before they put it on the market, but that happens to be very rare in Sonoma County these days. It is not uncommon to be told that no inspections were done, and it is up to the buyer to have and pay for inspections should they so choose.

The type of inspections you will want depends on the type of property you are buying. For a condo on a slab foundation where the Home Owners Association takes care of the exterior of the property, you might opt for a general home inspection only. For a single family residence with a crawl space, your best bet is a general home, pest and roof inspection. Country property usually entails all of the above in addition to septic and well. No matter the case, we will help you determine your needs, schedule appointments and be present for any and all inspections. Once inspections are done, we go over all of the results with you to determine if it is prudent to ask the seller for any repairs or credits.

When will the home officially be mine?

This varies from state to state, this answer applies to those buying a home in California. The home will officially be yours when the seller signed grant deed is recorded in the county where the home resides. Too often, buyers think that the house is theirs the moment they have signed the loan documents, but that is not the case. This is the usual order of events that effect a closing:

  • Seller signs grant deed, deeding the property to the buyer
  • Buyer signs loan documents and delivers any remaining amount necessary to escrow
  • The loan funds
  • Escrow officer releases grant deed to be recorded
  • Grant deed is recorded, the buyer now owns the home

Once the buyer officially owns the home, we can give the buyer the keys, garage door openers, etc.

We can help, we know Sonoma County

Our mission is to do such a fabulous job at finding the perfect property for you, that you'll refer us to all of your friends and family. Let's do this!

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