Buyer's Guide

A Step-by-Step 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 buyer’s guide created by our team 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 we 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 agents like us to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will we help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but we also have knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where our expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let us show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

Our 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!). We 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. We 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. We 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. 

Our Testimonials

See why our clients love working with us.
Heather

Heather

We worked with Kathleen for months to find the perfect place for our family. She was patient, warm, and knowledgeable. She allowed us plenty of space to form our own opinions but was never afraid to tell us her honest thoughts ...
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Kenny & Stafford D.

Kenny & Stafford D.

My husband and I were very impressed with Kathleen, and would proudly endorse her. Kathleen's attentiveness to our needs was far better than any Realtors we've worked with before. She had an uncanny way of making us feel like w...
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Madeline Z.

Madeline Z.

I gave Kathleen the very difficult task of finding me the most amazing "kitchen" ever. This was really my purchase requirement along with a list of about 12 more things. Kathleen was given a very time-consuming task of research...
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Kevin

Kevin

We relied on Kathleen's experience at every step of our recent purchase. We were new to the Santa Cruz area, and she showed us around different neighborhoods and made recommendations for what would suit our taste and lifestyle....
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Tammy

Tammy

My house was a difficult house to sell. That didn't stop Kathleen she jumped right in and gave it her all. This means she kept in contact with me the whole time, you would have thought I was her only client (which I wasn't but ...
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Seller

Seller

Kathleen Zech was an excellent choice for our real estate and property management needs. From the beginning, she was knowledgeable, upfront, and extremely motivated to make it happen for us. She knew the area we were working wi...
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James

James

We meet Kathleen by responding to a few properties on Zillow and other websites for the San Lorenzo area. We immediately made a very good connection and had a great experience. Kathleen showed patience as we explored our list a...
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Tim & Cathy

Tim & Cathy

My husband and I are retiring and considering downsizing but were unsure about exactly how much smaller we want to go. Kathleen listened to all our requirements and then took the time to show us everything from mobile homes to ...
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Joe D.

Joe D.

My wife and I can't recommend Kathleen highly enough. In helping us sell our previous house and buy a new house in 2013, she proved knowledgeable, responsive, and did everything she could to make the process as easy as possible...
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Jennifer

Jennifer

Kathleen provided excellent service throughout our land purchase. She gave us excellent service in all areas of this transaction, had prompt responses to questions, and had a solution for any issue that presented itself to us. ...
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Douglas H.

Douglas H.

We loved the experience we had working with Kathleen and Paul. They were responsive, open, and helpful. We live 1.5 hours away from the property we purchased, and they went the extra mile to take care of things locally that we ...
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Randall

Randall

Thank you for selling the condo. It was easy and very pleasant working with you two. I still remember when I made that first call to you from Logan airport in Boston. Thanks for doing such a good job and being very accessible. ...
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Buyer

Buyer

Kathleen is an amazing Realtor. She is professional, kind, and very easy to work with. Selling and buying a home can be very stressful. Kathleen made us feel at ease and made this a very positive experience.
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Sherilyn & Danny F.

Sherilyn & Danny F.

Thanks to Paul and Kathleen, we are the proud owners of a beautiful, newly constructed home in Gilroy. We would highly recommend the Zech Group professional and easy to work with.
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Jeanne Stewart

Jeanne Stewart

So thankful for the Zech Properties Team. Every aspect of selling my home was communicated upfront with no surprises at closing. And such caring people. Dream Team!
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Local Connections Expert Insights

Our expansive network and white-glove service ensure a bespoke experience for both buyers and sellers. At Team Zech Properties, we carefully curate each property and transaction to ensure that personal touch, every time. Contact Paul, Kathleen, or Molly today to begin your real estate journey.

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