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Buying a home in Sonoma County?

Ask Realty OnlineLet's begin with your idea of the perfect property then explore the actual possibilities together. Focusing on your budget and the logistics of your routine travel routes to locations most important to you is a good place to start. Once we've narrowed down price and location, we can focus on amenities — what is most important to you and where you may be willing to compromise if needed. The purpose of this exercise is to create a touchstone, which will serve as a reference point for weighing pros and cons of particular properties, which will bring greater certainty to your decision-making.

I like to begin by reviewing online property listings with you at our first meeting. We can discuss and evaluate the available options at the price being considered and you can participate in selecting those we will look at on our first outing together. We can do further exploration in whatever way you choose. I can provide you with information on anything and everything remotely meeting your criteria, then you can evaluate everything entirely on your own first, perhaps including driving by to see if you like the setting. Or, at the other extreme, I can create highly refined search criteria and preview promising possibilities on your behalf prior to scheduling any appointments to look together. We'll follow-up using whatever approach and communication method works best for you -- phone, fax, email, snail mail, or in person.

Beginning the loan application process right away is of foremost importance — to be certain that you qualify for the price range you're considering. It is very disheartening to find a perfect home and then not be able to even make an attractive offer because you don't have documentation in hand showing that you'll have the funds required to complete the purchase. Sellers who know what they are doing typically will not even consider accepting an offer unless a lender's approval letter accompanies it. Evidence of being approved for any loan you expect to use for an REO/foreclosure purchase are always mandatory, and wiil be required by any short sale listing agent who knows what they're doing (if you want a seller's lender to take seriously an offer to purchase for less than owed, you must certainly submit verification of an ability to complete the purchase). Your loan approval can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending upon the complexity of your finances and your speed at delivering the supporting documentation required for review, so it is best to get started on this sooner rather than later.

I can refer you to local lenders if needed and will support you during the application process with whomever you chose. If you've already established a relationship with a lender, I will want to confer with them early on to begin building a teamwork relationship — to be confident that you'll be able to deliver on the loan details outlined in your offer and to not risk losing your deposit for failure to perform — so that all will go smoothly at the transaction's conclusion (commonly referred to as the 'closing').

Ask Realty OnlineMy mission in representing you as a buyer is to get your offer accepted on terms that match your needs. When you find a property that appeals to you, we'll do a generalized preliminary assessment of the home's condition, then I will perform a comparative market analysis (CMA) — evaluating the property in comparison to similar properties that have recently sold or that are currently available. Keeping in mind that price may not be the single most important factor for a seller — timing or other terms may also be of great importance.

So before writing an offer I will contact the seller's agent to learn as much as possible about the seller's wants and needs, so we can structure the offer to be as attractive as possible in every way. For instance, lenders who've just foreclosed on a property are typically anxious to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Alternatively, owners who are under no duress to move now and those who may need time to find a replacement home may appreciate a more leisurely escrow. There are a multitude of ways, besides price, to make an offer attractive. We'll review all this information together, while keeping in mind your touchstone concerns, to arrive at the price and terms to offer.

Actively promoting your offer to the seller is my next responsibility. I typically compose a letter to the seller highlighting the strengths of my buyer's offer and a letter to the seller's agent explaining any unusual terms while advocating for the price being offered. For your benefit, if the seller hasn't already offered to pay for a home warranty, I may offer to do so. Doing this not only serves to support the specific terms being offered but also lets the seller and their agent know that by accepting our offer they can look forward to working with a true professional who is dedicated to making the extra effort required for a smooth transaction.

Advocating for a buyer in this way has become rather unusual, but is still vitally significant. When I first became an agent offers were almost always presented in person and the art of presentation was considered a crucial skill and an essential service. The buyer's agent made an appointment with the seller via the listing agent and all three sat down together — providing an opportunity for the buyer's agent to make a positive impression on the seller and to advocate for the buyer, for the seller to ask questions, and for each side to learn more about the objectives of the other.

Ask Realty OnlineSince email has now become the preferred method of communication personal presentations are seldom expected; and are not even possible in the case of short sale or REO purchases where the seller's decision maker is rarely available in person (even to the listing agent). Unfortunately now many agents who claim to be buyers' representatives simply slip the offer into a fax machine or send it off by email — depending on the listing agent to interpret the offer's virtues, making no effort to advocate for their client's offer or to even establish rapport with the other side — though it is the seller's agent's job to look for an offer's weakness, not to ferret out its strengths!

In my experience, effective communication is at the heart of a win-win transaction. And, based on my success rate, I am confident that my presentation skills, both written and in person, make a crucial difference when my client's offer is in competition with others. I am committed to clear communication and professional excellence from my first contact with the seller and their representative and throughout the transaction — always remembering that successful communication begins with thoughtful inquiry and attentive listening.

Once your offer is accepted my job becomes keeping the transaction on track. I'll assist with reviewing the preliminary title and inspection reports, disclosure documents and any other information provided and make sure that you stay on schedule with inspections and contingency releases to assure that you'll have the time needed to make well-informed decisions before the deadlines agreed to in your offer. For concerns about issues such as building permits, land use, zoning, neighborhood activities and school availability, I'll direct you to appropriate government offices or other resources, go with you if you'd like, and assist you if needed to articulate your questions so that you get actually relevant information.

If any report, inspection or investigation yields less than satisfactory results I'll assist you in determining the most appropriate remedy to request — more information from the seller, an extension of time to perform further investigations, a price reduction or some other form of seller compensation — or perhaps a complete cancellation of the transaction. Whatever course of action you desire, I'll work with you to craft a formal written request to be delivered to the seller's agent along with a well-thought through written rationale for the agent to pass along to the seller in support of your request.

Ask Realty OnlineOnce contingencies are removed my focus shifts to shepherding the efforts of the lender, the title and escrow company, and the seller's agent towards concluding the transaction in a timely manner. I'll make sure that you receive an estimate of closing costs well in advance, so you have an opportunity to review these and make any corrections before sitting down to sign final paperwork.

I will accompany you to the escrow company to assure you're allowed whatever time you need time to review the documents you're signing and verify that the information corresponds with what you previously agreed to with your lender and the seller, and that any credits, home warranty coverage, or rebate agreed to are properly itemized. When all is done I deliver the keys to your new house — the end of a perfect day for me, day one of a new life adventure for you. Whatever your real estate questions or assistance you're looking for, I am glad to be of service, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience. Please get in touch.

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Sebastopol, California 95444
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