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. 

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Lori G.

Lori G.

I have been lucky enough to work with Suzy Reily since 2006 when she was my agent who helped me find and purchase my first home in San Francisco. She knew exactly what I was looking for - a little New England style cottage in S...
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Melinda T.

Melinda T.

Suzy Reily was our Realtor® last year when we decided to buy some property in California. Since we had been living in Florida, we were at a loss about the California market. Our goal was to purchase a property to live in part o...
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Lynn P.

Lynn P.

We cannot speak highly enough about our recent experience with Suzy Reily, who guided us through the process of buying a vacation home in the Bay Area, completely “virtually”, while we remained Covid-safe in our home in Souther...
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John M.

John M.

Suzy is completely different from other real estate agents whose only capability is to simply meet to "show" you a home. Suzy doesn't waste your time with simply "showing" homes. When I bought in San Francisco, Suzy took time t...
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Patricia L. & David H.

Patricia L. & David H.

We highly recommend Suzy. She has a detailed knowledge of the SF real estate market with all it’s micro neighborhoods and quirks. She knows everyone, she works hard and has a great roster of trades people who do good work, and ...
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Seller

Seller

We highly recommend Suzy. She has a detailed knowledge of the SF real estate market with all it’s micro neighborhoods and quirks. She knows everyone, she works hard and has a great roster of trades people who do good work, and ...
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Dan C.

Dan C.

Suzy has been amazing to work with. I am quite hesitant to write how well everything went. I trust that Suzy will do her best to replicate what happened to us, but at the same time I hope it does not set the bar too high. It to...
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Joel T.

Joel T.

Suzy is a fantastic agent and you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t work with her. She listened to everything I wanted even if it was nuts, was incredibly responsive, and made sure everything went smoothly. Plus she ...
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Lucas E.

Lucas E.

I’ve worked with Suzy on over a dozen transactions in the past 5 years. There are multiple properties that I would’ve absolutely had no chance of purchasing without her insight and strong relationships with others in the real e...
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Susan K. & Jason M.

Susan K. & Jason M.

Suzy was a joy to work with from beginning to end. She was very attentive, promptly answered all our calls and texts, and took the stress out of selling our first home. Suzy is also extremely knowledgeable about the housing mar...
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Nancy & Michael M.

Nancy & Michael M.

Whether you’re buying or selling, there’s a lot to hope for in the agent you choose. Someone with good instincts, who knows the market intimately. A professional who works hard, gets things done and is always a step ahead. Idea...
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Danielle B.

Danielle B.

Over the past 30 years, I've worked with a number of Realtor® in various locations around the country, and I can say without a doubt that Suzy has been the most enjoyable and easiest to work with. She's a keen listener, comfort...
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Collin & Julie W.

Collin & Julie W.

Suzy Reily was recommended to us by a good friend. We noticed instantly how knowledgeable she was in the San Francisco market. Her knowledge and experience helped us with a purchase of our first home in San Francisco. Suzy was ...
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Rita M.

Rita M.

Extremely pleased with Suzy. She is reliable efficient professional and very knowledgeable. Quick to understand my requirements and sets out to accomplish our goal without hesitation. My Deals close on time. It is a pleasure to...
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Sanket K.

Sanket K.

Suzy is amazing. We’ve bought, sold and bought with her the last 4 years. She’s well connected, works very hard, and is just a pleasure to work with. We cannot recommend her enough! If you want to buy or sell, she’s the one to ...
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Whether you want to buy or sell a home in San Francisco, you need an agent to source the property, negotiate and close the deal. I will do that for you with tenacity, poise, and enthusiasm.

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