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.
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 prequalified 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. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where my expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let me show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.
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, 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.
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.
Talk about a well-rounded Realtor®, someone who advocates for you and has your best interest in mind at all times, there's no other than Susan. We were new to LA and had no clue on where to even start to navigate this market as this was the complete opposite of what we are used to. From the first day, when she delivered to us a binder with details on what to know and what to expect, I knew immediately she was the one. One, because as newcomers to the market, we were shut down from the get-go by many others in the profession, dismissed by the size of our wallet or our inexperience. We were advised to return to the table when all the cards were right ...— NADINE L.
Wow. What to say about Susan? The best. And funny to boot (quite handy during a stressful situation). We came out of the shoot flying, and she didn't stop until we nailed it in the final stretch.— JENNIFER G.
Susan is the absolute best. We have been in our dream home for the past year, and Susan made that possible. As first-time homebuyers, she was patient with us, and always available to talk. We couldn’t have done it without her. She’s also hilarious— MARY C.
Susan guided me in purchasing my first home. Susan makes the process exciting and enjoyable! Her experience and expertise let you know you are in good hands. She is extremely knowledgeable, professional, and motivated. Her winning personality is the cherry on top. Thank you Coletti Estates.— MONICA P.
Susan made our experience as first-time buyers incredibly smooth. We started this process with some fear have not been through it before, but once we teamed up with Susan we knew we were in good hands. She is incredibly knowledgeable, professional, and very fun. Can't recommend Susan enough.— GENNA G.
We met Susan at an open house and had a wonderful experience working with her over many months of searching for our first home. She is an expert in the LA market and patiently walked us through every step in the process, generously fielding our many questions as first-time buyers. We are thrilled with how everything turned out and so glad we had her to represent us throughout.— MELISSA S.
Susan was the best Realtor® we could have hoped for. She went above and beyond. She anticipated our needs and met them with a smile on her face and expert advice. She settled our minds during the beginning of Covid lockdown while home shopping with her quick wit and humor. She was an absolute pleasure to work with and made the selling of our home and purchasing of our new home seamless.— AMBER B.
I was referred to Susan for her record of getting the job with amazing results and she did not disappoint! Susan brought her enthusiasm and persuasion to the table and helped us close a very hot purchase. She was a wonderful guide through the entire process with great tips and was very responsive to all my questions from the very start to after closing as well. I would highly recommend her services if you're looking for an agent anywhere around the greater LA area.— TIFFANY C.
It was such a pleasure having Susan work with us on finding our first home, especially during a pandemic. She was professional, friendly, and quick to respond to our concerns and questions throughout the entire process from beginning to the end no matter the time of day. Susan put time and effort to ensure we found a property that fit our needs. She provided great insight into the market, neighborhoods, and listings. We definitely recommend working with her if you are in the market to buy a home. Thank you, Susan.— FRANCETTE C.
Susan is the best Realtor® you could ask for. She sold our condo for top dollar and found us a single-family home in the area we were looking for. With Susan's 10 years of experience, she will give you honest opinions on listing your home for the right price, negotiating offers, and buying a new home that fits your needs. Her positive attitude helped us out a lot when challenges came up in both selling and buying our home (all during this Covid pandemic as well). I would highly suggest hiring Susan as your Realtor® because she will work around the clock to fill your needs.— CHAD N.
My husband and I have worked with Susan three times - to buy two properties, and sell one. There's a reason we keep returning back to work with her. She's whip-smart, has incredible instincts, is gifted at fostering relationships with other agents, and is hilarious to boot. She makes the intimidating process of buying a home easy and even, dare I say, fun. Both properties that we purchased were highly competitive, with multiple offer situations with 10+ offers. Not only do we have a real estate agent that we will continue to use in our family for years to come, but we have also gained a friend. Susan is the best!— RACHEL J.
I cannot say enough great things about Susan. Having her support in finding a home is fun, inspiring, exciting and she really goes above and beyond to ensure you feel comfortable, cared for and that you find the home of your dreams (or sell your home for the best possible price.) It's so clear that Susan is passionate about her work, and she really strives to offer each of her clients an unmatchable experience. I could not have found my most recent home without her support, as she helped me every step of the way. The house hunt has gotten more challenging in LA, and having Susan's expertise really gave us a step-up in our search. 10/10 I would recom...— BLAIR W.
Susan was our agent when we bought our home in the Pacific Palisades this summer. She was very knowledgeable and responsive to our questions. Her negotiating skills are very good. She had previously helped our daughter buy a co-op in Santa Monica and they were also very pleased with her help. Finally, Susan found us a tenant to rent our home in the Pacific Palisades for the next year until we are ready to move there from back East. It was challenging to find the "perfect" tenant and after a few false alarms, she finally did secure a family that we are very pleased with. So to summarize, Susan was a very good real estate agent in terms of helping us ...— LYNN J.
Susan Coletti is the absolute best. She was recommended to me by a friend who had worked with her earlier in the year to buy their new home. My friend had gone through about 10 different agents before finding Susan, and I'm so incredibly grateful that she did. This was our first time purchasing, and Susan held our hands the entire way. Anytime I got stressed or anxious, she was there to talk me down from the ledge and assure me that all would be well (and it was). I was basically clueless about the home buying process. She explained everything extremely clearly and answered every one of my questions. I was so appreciative of how straightforward she ...— AMBER W.
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Her high energy, determination, and hard work are just a few qualities one can expect when working with her. Also, her strong negotiation skills and a keen understanding of the ever-changing real estate market lead her to be one of the top agents in the local industry.