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Crucial Steps to Buying a Home in the North County

09/25/22  |  Hertha Wolff-Arend

Organize your team and start browsing available properties in this coveted California destination.

Crucial Steps to Buying a Home in the North County

Buying a home is one of the most significant investments of a lifetime. Whether you are looking to purchase your first home, your second, or your third, there are some crucial steps you need to follow to get the North County home you want and for a smooth transition. If you are ready to look at wine country homes for sale in Paso Robles, let Hertha Wolff-Arend be your guide.

Know what you are looking for in a home

Before moving forward with your home search, it’s important to determine which features are most important, such as:

  • The neighborhood and nearby cities and communities
  • The amount of space and number of rooms
  • A home office or workspace
  • Extra space for a growing family
  • The school district
  • Nearby parks, museums, shops, and other amenities

Organizing your buying team

Your home buying team begins with an experienced agent with deep knowledge of the area and a proven negotiation track record.

When looking for a home in Atascadero, Templeton, or Paso Robles, Hertha Wolff-Arend may be the right agent for you. Hertha has years of experience with luxury homes and, being an avid equestrian, she is familiar with the particulars when looking at equestrian farms for sale.

Once you have established Hertha as your Realtor®, she can help you find the services you need throughout the real estate transaction, including mortgage brokers and lenders, home and termite inspectors, escrow companies, and insurance agents. All of these services play a crucial role in a successful home-buying experience.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

It is essential to get pre-approved for a loan, as it is customary that the buyer’s offer will be accompanied by the pre-approval or pre-qualification letter. The pre-approval letter shows the seller that you are serious, which will help your offer stand out above the rest. For this reason, you should seek pre-approval before beginning the house hunt so that your letter will be ready when you find your “perfect” new home.

In meeting with a mortgage professional for a personal consultation, you can discuss your pre-approval, what type of loan option will be best for you, how much your monthly mortgage payments could be, and how much you should spend on a down payment.

In addition, some mortgages may be limited to specific types of residences and insurance restrictions. By knowing how much you can spend and your limitations, your Realtor® will be able to map out appropriate properties for your consideration.

Meeting with a mortgage broker does not lock you into using them or their company for your potential mortgage. You can still shop for other lenders while shopping for your new home, but you will have a better overall understanding of your budget and a guaranteed approval amount if you find exactly what you are looking for, enabling you to make an offer.

View multiple properties

You may want to start searching around the internet for properties. Just remember what you see on the screen may not be what you will experience in person. Many people are enamored by a property on the internet only to be disappointed during a walk-through.

Be sure to share your priority list with your agent. Make sure your list starts with the most prominent issues and ends with some things you may want but can live without. While you are doing your internet search, Hertha can create your profile on the Compass Collection portal and set up a customized search for you with all the criteria you are looking for in a home. This way, you will receive email alerts as soon as a new property shows up that matches your criteria. This is a powerful tool to keep you updated, and you can make comments within the portal.

In addition, it’s important to take a drive around the neighborhoods you are considering. Familiarize yourself with them, and see what properties are for sale. Feel free to stop in at open houses. Take notes of each neighborhood and each home you view while rating promising possibilities and eliminating definite “no”s.

Unless timing is of the utmost importance, do not settle for something you will regret later. And allow your schedule to be as open as possible so that you can get a tour quickly if something new comes up.

Making an offer

When you have found the home you have been looking for, you need to consider your offer carefully. Your Realtor® will develop a list of comparable houses recently sold in the neighborhood and others currently listed and their asking price. Comparisons will include the square footage of the homes and amenities like the one you are hoping to purchase.

You need to understand whether the market is currently a buyer's market, a seller's market, or a level field. Your Realtor® will help you with this. If you buy during a seller's market period, know that you will need to offer a competitive offer close to or above the asking price.

Along with your price offer, your offer package ideally includes your mortgage pre-approval letter and proof of funds for your down payment. These documents must be submitted within three days after acceptance unless otherwise negotiated.

Because a purchase offer is a very complex document, your real estate agent will guide you through it, answering any questions you have along the way. There are several terms and conditions that are part of the residential purchase agreement, such as:

  • Offering price
  • Length of escrow
  • Contingency deadline, including inspection, appraisal, and loan contingencies
  • Details of the financing
  • Cancellation rights
Contact your agent before making an offer so that you can receive a customer guide and prepare yourself. After submitting your offer, the seller may accept, submit a counteroffer, or decline.

An acceptance of your offer

Within three days of acceptance, the buyer pays the earnest money deposit, which is between one and three percent of the offering price. Unless the buyer is in breach of contract, the deposit is fully refundable should the buyer decide to cancel the contract according to the agreed-upon terms.

You will also need to move forward with financing, complete a home inspection, and other stipulations according to the contingency timeframe.

What if you get a counteroffer or a decline?

This depends on just how much you want the North Country property. If you want to make a more attractive offer, do so. But it is crucial to stay within your budget. If you cannot comfortably meet the seller's price, you must bow out and move on. There are other homes that might work for you.

Be sure to get a home inspection

While the house may appear in perfect condition, you need a licensed home and termite inspector to evaluate your home inside and out. There could be underlying issues not recognizable to most homebuyers, such as mold, faulty wiring, or other unforeseen problems.

Investing your time to attend the inspection will give you firsthand knowledge of any issues that may arise and offer you the chance to ask the inspector questions in person. It also can save you headaches and money down the road.

While you will receive a complete copy of the inspection report, you should also be keeping notes as you go. This way, you can assure something is not missed, giving you a little more time to digest what you have seen and heard.

When you receive the formal copy of the home inspection, sit down and review it with your Realtor® and bring up any issues from your notes.

Take a final walk-through

After reviewing the home inspection, the seller may have had to fix a few things, or you may have agreed to take care of them with a credit towards the closing costs. Within five days before closing, you will perform a final walk-through with your agent. During this time, you want to ensure that the property is in the condition as purchased and that all agreed-upon repairs were completed.

Bring your home inspection report, and be sure to receive copies of any repair invoices and receipts for work done following the inspection. You want your new home to be ready for you on your move-in date.

The official closing of your new home

If you’re looking for homes for sale in the North Country, you need a real estate agent who knows and loves the area to help you find your dream home.

Hertha Wolff-Arend is a passionate dressage and trail rider living on a ranch near Lake Nacimiento, an area with many backcountry trails. She understands what it takes to develop a horse property and is well-connected in the equestrian community.

If you want to bring horses to California, Hertha will help you with recommendations for veterinary services, trainers, farriers, food suppliers, and everything you need. Contact Hertha today, and you’ll be many steps closer to owning an equestrian property in Paso Robles.