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 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.
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.
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.
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 preapproved for a loan.
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 offer insight regarding homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.
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.
Once you have selected the perfect home, I will help you 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kacey is a true professional. She is well-connected in this housing market and I would easily choose her again to represent us in a future home purchase endeavor.— Buyer
Kacey is extremely helpful and provides excellent customer service. She’s responsive to our needs and requests and we feel great having her represent us in our real estate transactions.— Deborah F.
Kacey made the experience of finding our home, both efficient and fun. She responded to our needs quickly and kept us alerted to any new houses that fit our preferences. She was also kind, funny, and incredibly friendly!— Catie M.
Kacey was very helpful throughout the entire process of buying my first home. She was great about responding to my questions and provided me and my family with all the information and support that we needed in this process. I highly recommend working with Kacey if you are looking to buy a home.— Juan A.
Kacey did a great job In helping us buy our home. We had made a house contingency offer from another state and it proved to be difficult because of closing date issues and dual house inspection problems. Kacey stayed on top of our changing situation and her optimism and diligence persevered. We definitely recommend her to anyone desiring a very professional and enthusiastic agent.— Nancy S.
Kacey was fantastic from start to finish and frankly made the process easy especially so as it was during the COVID pandemic. We initially had a buyer back out with a few days to go in escrow. She had a game plan and other offers for us to consider immediately. One of Kacey's strengths is communicating and at no point were we in the dark about what was going on. Very happy with her and the job she did.— Seller
We met Kacey in 2018 and worked with her for over one year until she found our first home. She contacted us Saturday, we toured it Sunday and submitted Monday. Has a great understanding of what we were looking for and delivered our dream home. We can't thank Kacey enough for her time and effort while making the process smooth. We will be upgrading in the future and she already knows what we want! Highly recommend.— Buyer & Seller
I trusted Kacey with representing us through several home renovation projects before we moved in. Kacey was willing to keep an eye on and care for our home as if it were her own, after closing and before we arrived in San Diego. I leaned on Kacey for recommendations for local vendors who would help us get settled and make our house a home. She streamlined the process and found quality contractors with availability exactly when we needed them.— Buyer
Kacey did an outstanding job with the property we recently purchased. She was there every step of the way and kept us informed at all times. She was very helpful with coordinating inspections and other services that needed to be done prior to closing. We had many questions and she was always positive and helpful with her responses, which made the process very easy on us. We highly recommend Kacey Smith to anyone looking to sell or buy property. She’s a knowledgeable, skilled Realtor®, and a pleasure to work with!— Buyer
I would love to recommend to you our realtor, Kacey Smith! We recently purchased a home in the San Diego area remotely due to children’s school schedules and military orders. Kacey was our local representative and helped us through the challenging process and timelines, flawlessly. From the very start, she proved to us to be dedicated to finding our perfect “forever” home and did not shy away from helping us with our unique needs as a military family that were really beyond her scope of duties as a realtor. We met Kacey through a referral from Cathedral Catholic High School and she has become a close friend through our home buying experience. Kacey ...— Dr. Gabriel & CDR Heidi G.
My husband and I were so thankful to have been able to buy our first home in January of 2022. After 4 long years of showings, tours and rising costs we were nervous it wouldn’t happen. Kacey stuck by us every step of the way, helping us to navigate this constantly changing market. We were hesitant as the world was changing, inventory was low, and prices were soaring. Kacey pushed us to focus on our wants, goals and future. We were determined to purchase in a certain neighborhood where houses for sale were few and far between. Miraculously, 3 houses came up for sale and Kacey jumped on the opportunity. We put solid bids on all 3, placing us in the to...— Bethany & Rich R.
Kacey was an incredible Realtor® to work with! She was so hard working and available by phone, text, or to meet in person whenever we needed her. She drove all the way out to East County countless times to show us homes. We were first-time home buyers and Kacey made the process so easy for us and made us feel comfortable asking any questions that we had. We told her our goal was to buy a home by the end of summer and she made it happen in just 4 short months! We were very particular about what we were looking for in a home including price, size, location, good schools, etc. and she listened to our requests and worked hard to help us meet all of thos...— Buyer
Kacey made the process so easy for us and made us feel comfortable asking any questions that we had. She worked hand-in- hand with our lender and went over all of the legal documents with a fine tooth comb. She worked diligently to make sure that we got the best deal and were making good financial decisions. Not only was she professional and committed, but she was so fun to work with. Anyone who works with Kacey will end up with a lifelong friend.— Lexie, Educator
Kacey stuck by us every step of the way, helping us navigate this constantly changing market. Kacey pushed us to focus on our wants, goals, and future. She has been like family to us throughout this process and we look forward to having her continue to celebrate many more milestones with us in our home!— Beth, Educator
We recently purchased a home in the San Diego area remotely due to children's school schedules and military orders. Kacey was our local representative and helped us through the challenging process and timelines, flawlessly. Kacey was a master at managing the very challenging closing timeline we faced in April at the height of the market "madness". From the very start, she proved to us to be dedicated to finding our perfect "forever" home and did not shy away from helping us with our unique needs as a military family that was really beyond her scope of duties as a Realtor®.— Gabe & Heidi, Military
Focusing on customer service and integrity ensures I live up to the Berkshire Hathaway name – a name often voted the most trusted or admired in the world. Why would you trust your largest investment to anyone else? Who you work with matters!