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. 

My Testimonials

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Luke N.

Luke N.

When I moved to California in 2010 Scott was one of the first people outside of work that I met, he was originally my landlord for a small bachelor cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains. I met my future wife while living there, and...
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Dave K.

Dave K.

My wife and I needed to find a home near Santa Cruz and move in within 2 months. It was our first home buying experience, yet I had done a lot of research on what steps I needed to take. I knew finding a good real estate team w...
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Rex H.

Rex H.

Our family just purchased our first house during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scott is knowledgeable and has a great team, and I especially like to thank one of his team members who helped us a lot in the whole process. Honestly, we ...
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Alec P.

Alec P.

Scott was very thorough, professional, and knowledgeable about the area and the current state of the real estate market. He was very easy to work with and was on the same wavelength as me in terms of pricing and marketing the h...
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Joel S.

Joel S.

We have had the pleasure of working with Scott on two occasions. First, as our selling agent, he put our duplex in San Jose on the market. He priced it just right; within a day we had multiple offers and it sold above the askin...
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Rahul B.

Rahul B.

Five stars across the board! We’ve worked with Scott on three transactions (twice as buyers and once as sellers) over seven years and have had good outcomes every time. Scott takes the time to really build a relationship and un...
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Therese

Therese

Scott was recommended by a family member who utilized Scott's expertise on the selling and buying side of his property. I know that he was so pleased with Scott's knowledge and skills so it was a no-brainer for me to hire Scott...
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McDonald D.

McDonald D.

I met Scott by chance at an open house for another property. On first contact, he impressed me with his confidence and professionalism, and we had initial discussions on the sale of my late uncle's property the very next day. A...
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Prashant A.

Prashant A.

Scott is a rock star! He came highly recommended by some friends and he exceeded the expectations in helping us buy a home in the Bay Area. The best thing about Scott is that he was unequivocally on our side throughout the proc...
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Woodbury J.

Woodbury J.

Scott Poncetta has recently handled the sale of four single-family, 1031 exchange and purchase of two multi-family buildings totaling $5.99M. During the process Scott's ability to provide strategic insight into the sale and 103...
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Rudow A.

Rudow A.

We worked with Scott to sell our home, and purchase a new one in November of 2018. The sale of our home took longer than expected and was highly stressful, to say the least. Scott and his incredible team were the only people wh...
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

My wife and I were looking to sell our home in Santa Cruz Gardens and upgrade into a house with a larger yard. We tried for two years with no luck. Every time we would find a home it seemed like it was already sold, due to a ho...
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Rohit T.

Rohit T.

We would never have been able to swing this deal had it not been for Scott. His knowledge and expertise far surpass anything/anyone we have known in his field. That is why we were able to get our dream house despite a raucous 1...
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Buyer

Buyer

Scott and his team were able to take what can be a very scary and intimidating experience (buying a home in the bay area) and make it a very simple and comfortable process for our family. Scott took the time to listen and under...
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Dan W.

Dan W.

Scott and his team are first-class individuals! I didn't have the easiest purchase (Duplex/Triplex) with lots of variables to account for. Scott and his team went above and beyond and were there for me the entire time. This was...
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Majken B.

Majken B.

Scott made us feel secure in the search for our first home purchase in the Bay Area. He came highly recommended by two of our friends and exceeded our expectations for personal service and expertise. He took the time to underst...
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Jer G.

Jer G.

I was only allowed to choose three positive attributes, but I could have easily selected all of them. Scott helped me through the purchase of my first home. His knowledge of a unique property like mine was invaluable. The whole...
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Namburi

Namburi

A friend of ours recommended Scott when we were on the lookout for our first home. Scott was very patient and understood our needs and budget. He has excellent negotiating skills and always puts his clients first! He and his te...
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Mike D.

Mike D.

Scott is a homebuyer's asset. He is patient and worked with us by focusing on our needs and feedback until we found what we were looking for. He is very personable and relaxed throughout the process while getting things done, e...
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Eva B.

Eva B.

I want to give a strong recommendation for Scott. He helped us out with getting our home, and he did a great job! I would recommend him to anyone that is on the market to buy a house.
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