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. 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.
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.
Lisa was wonderful to work with. We have worked with her on the sale of our condo as well as the rental of our home in SF. She exceeded any expectations we had. Not only was she able to get us top dollars, but she made the whole experience very enjoyable. She is knowledgeable, very hard-working, and dedicated to making sure all parties are satisfied. Lisa was wonderful to work with. We have worked with her on the sale of our condo as well as the rental of our home in SF. She exceeded any expectations we had. Not only was she able to get us top dollars, but she made the whole experience very enjoyable. She is knowledgeable, very hard-working, and ded...— HENDRIK P.
I’ve worked with Lisa on several transactions over the course of a decade. She is always punctual, professional, and extremely knowledgeable about how to navigate the buying/selling process. Her perspective on design and architecture exceeds what most REALTORS can offer -every project is personal for her as if it were her own. "Higher" profile REALTORS can never match the ambition and eagerness that Lisa brings to every new project. I know this from my personal experience prior to working with Lisa!— JOSH L.
As first-time home sellers, we were a bit overwhelmed entering the market. Even in a seller's market like San Francisco, we were unsure of the best approach to selling our home. Lisa advised us every step of the way, always making sure we fully understood the situation and any options or consequences we might incur. She literally immersed herself in the entire process, giving her full undivided, and extremely personal attention to every aspect of our sale. She has a discerning eye for detail and vast knowledge of Bay Area market trends. Perhaps Lisa's most valuable asset is her honest, personable demeanor. When our home sold in less than a week for ...— PAUL & SYLVIA G.
Lisa was instrumental in helping me with the sale of my Nob Hill property. Not only did she work tirelessly to find the buyer, but she also worked tenaciously in seeing to it the terms of the deal met my needs. She is a hard worker, a creative outside-the-box thinker, and incredibly responsive. I would not hesitate to use Lisa again, and highly recommend her.— JOHN C.
Lisa Vukovic made buying our home in this extremely competitive market, a breeze. From start to finish, he worked diligently to get us the right home. As a first-time buyer for me, I was clueless about the whole process and Lisa was with me every step of the way. She patiently answered all our questions and kept our spirits high in this difficult market. Over the course of one year, she showed us numerous homes and provided insightful feedback on each home and neighborhood to help us make educated decisions. If you are looking for someone who is knowledgeable, reliable, and professional, Lisa is the REALTOR for you!— KRISTINE H.
Lisa helped us purchase our first home in a bananas market, and we couldn't be more grateful. She held our hands the whole way through, was incredibly patient and responsive, and was available what felt like 24 hours a day at some points. Lisa was realistic and honest, and I think her great relationships and connections in the field helped us out too. We are thrilled with our home.— JEREMY & LEANNE S.
As a first-time home buyer, I am so glad I had Lisa as my agent. Lisa was able to quickly adapt to my needs and eventually knew exactly what I was looking for in a home in San Francisco. When it came time to make offers, she took the time to go through all the disclosures with me. Lisa went above and beyond and was always there with me from the time I had issues with my first lender to when I needed advice on hiring contractors to work on the house. Lisa really cares about her clients. Everyone should have a great agent like Lisa!— KHOI D.
It's a great pleasure to work with Lisa, and we greatly appreciate her help and guidance with our bidding, and good recommendations and follow-ups at every step of the process. Everything went so smoothly that we were able to write a strong offer and close in 14 days. All my friends are impressed and want my recommendations. I want to thank Lisa for all her help and efforts and look forward to working with her again!— RUI Z.
I owe a great deal to Lisa for her help and guidance with finding and closing my wonderful new house. She was absolutely wonderful to work with and her experience and knowledge made the entire process, from locating the perfect property to obtaining the best loan possible to making sure all the documents were properly created, and move efficiently and quickly. She made the entire process simple and enjoyable for me and I highly recommend her to any home buyer.— JOHN M.
Lisa helped us purchase our SF condo and it was such an absolute pleasure to work with her! Thank you, Lisa! She not only took the time to show us many, many properties, but she also prepared thorough and detailed information on the neighborhoods and market trends to facilitate our search. She was always available to answer any questions, and honestly shared her personal and professional experience and opinions. In addition to her expert knowledge of the SF real estate market, Lisa has an extensive network of professionals who consulted us on critical issues during the buying process. We felt confident that our best interests were being looked out f...— TATIANA P.
Lisa represented the buyer in this transaction, but for me, she was the liaison, she went the distance, and she made everything happen for me, and with ease. I have been in transition for many years, and for me, this experience was uprooting a 21-year life at this house. Lisa was a blessing when she walked into my house that day, I wasn't quite ready for a broker showing however she was on -the the-fly with her client who had been searching for 2 years. My broker agent was from out of the area so Lisa took the baton to the finish line. Thank you for getting all the inspections lined up and executed. Thank you for getting escrow set up and all of the...— RITA D.
Lisa Vukovic was a steady hand on the rudder. when she worked with us to find and buy our house in San Francisco. She was very focused on understanding where we wanted to buy; she did not waste a lot of time showing us properties that did not suit our criteria. Once she helped us locate the house that we ultimately bought, she guided us through the offer process. She stayed connected with the listing broker and kept us apprised of progress. Once the offer was accepted, she then was completely focused on working with our bank to get our mortgage issued within the 14-day deadline. The result of her experience and hard work was our purchase of a wonder...— RICHARD & BONNIE
We have had the opportunity of knowing and working with Ms. Lisa Vukovic for the past 5 years. She helped us in getting a condo of our choice as we had very particular specifications. She was very efficient in all the transactions that enabled us to close the home in an expeditious manner. She went above and beyond to help us in renovating our condo. She has excellent communication skills and is very knowledgeable in matters pertaining to real estate, especially in the San Francisco region which can be extremely challenging. Above all, she is easy to work with, very approachable, and patient. Most importantly, she always keeps the interests of her c...— MERLIN N.
Lisa is amazing! My wife and I had been looking for a home in San Francisco for several years. The real estate market has been crazy (we were consistently outbid and there was scarce inventory in our price range, especially in the neighborhoods where we wanted to live). We were giving up hope and our real estate agent was useless. We were resigned to the idea of leaving SF and moving to the burbs. Fortunately, we happened to meet Lisa one weekend while viewing the condo that she had listed (without our agent). That condo sold, but we enjoyed meeting Lisa and decided to work with her since she had a lot of local knowledge. Best decision ever! Within ...— DAVID S.
I will help you every step of the way to prepare your property before it goes on the market. Feel free to reach out with any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!