Buyer's Guide

Everything you need to know about the process of buying a new home.

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.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We have been working with Shannon Conner on and off for many years regarding the sale of our Orinda home and the purchase of a new home in the area. She helped us submit numerous offers on homes in Orinda none of which materialized; this was largely expected as none of those offers was particularly competitive. We were just testing the waters; in hindsight, we were not really ready to leave the wonderful...

— Buyer & Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We met Shannon through a referral of a dear friend who had also moved from San Francisco to Lamorinda. Through Shannon, they found an amazing home and she was also very enthusiastic about the process with her so we knew we wanted to work with her, as well. From the minute we connected with Shannon, we felt completely at ease. It's like you're touring homes with a good friend, but one who has deep insight...

— Chantelle D.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon helped us list and sell our house prior to our move out of the country. Selling a home can be a very stressful event, and moving out of the country is also fairly complicated. Shannon was an amazing agent - from helping us find a great staging company, window washer, cleaning company, to putting together the listing documents, to scheduling the open houses and advising us on the offers we receive...

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon was instrumental in helping us buy the right home in Orinda. I would highly recommend her to anybody looking for an agent in the area. What we like about Shannon most, is that she always put our bests interests first. She really took the time to understand our family and what we needed. She didn't try to nudge us into a house that wasn't right for us or push us to bid for something that was overp...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon is exact Realtor® you dream about representing you on either side of a transaction; expert knowledge of the Lamorinda market and the home buying process, consistent, responsive, and a shrewd negotiator. I also appreciated how Shannon effortlessly guided us and gave her nuanced yet candid opinion on multiple opportunities. Another huge value add is her network connections in the area, immediately ...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We had the pleasure of working with Shannon Conner when we purchased our home in Orinda. Shannon is extremely professional and always had our best interests in mind. We were vacillating between remodeling our existing home and purchasing a resale home. Shannon was instrumental in helping us navigate the competitive Lamorinda real estate market and spent countless hours helping us understand all of our op...

— Sonia P.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon Conner was our Realtor® when we sold our Lafayette, California home last November. We could not have asked for a better, smoother transaction than what Shannon facilitated for us. She guided us through the process seamlessly pricing, listing, staging, managing open houses, reviewing offers, dealing with the Buyer’s Realtor®, etc. She has a very pleasant manner about her and was very easy to deal ...

— Diane B.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Working with Shannon exceeded our expectations. As first-time home buyers, Shannon was extremely patient and responsive to the millions of questions we had. She is extremely knowledgeable, personable, and generous with her time. Shannon helped make them crazy and stressful home buying process as painless and straightforward as possible. We truly valued her advice and opinions and believe that her experti...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Working with Shannon was wonderful. She has tremendous knowledge of the Lamorinda area and helped us secure an amazing home in early 2020! She represented us on the buy-side and was very savvy on how to negotiate the right price. She helped a great deal with inspections (often going on-site for us when our busy schedules wouldn't allow us to be at the home) and helped us negotiate around those as well. S...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon was amazing, I would recommend her to anyone! We never felt pressured, she always gave us lots of options and things to consider when looking for a new home. Shannon was always available for us, even on short notice, weekends, and evening hours. She helped us both sell our current home and buy a new home at the same time. Shannon had a lot of knowledge and many resources. Overall is was a great e...

— Buyer & Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon is super responsive, helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable! She added value to absolutely every step of the transaction and happily answered questions throughout the entire process. She provides helpful contacts for local services, contractors, etc., and made the home buying process as seamless and stress-free as possible. Highly recommend Shannon for buying and selling in LaMorinda!

— Molly M.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Attentive and listened to our wishes rather than telling us what she wanted from us. She would check in with us all through the process in a timely fashion. She was right on point as to what would happen on a daily basis. Her knowledge of the market provided the exact timeframe that the process would take and how the transaction go. We had offers within a week and a closing in 15 days.

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon is an amazing Realtor®! We are first-time homeowners and Shannon did a great job of educating us on the market and walking us through the steps of buying a home in Orinda. She is a great listener and isn't pushy at all. Shannon helped us secure a beautiful home in a great neighborhood that was within our price range. We can't recommend her enough!

— Liana G.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon was amazing. I was extremely nervous about this whole process. Shannon was there every step of the way to calm my nerves. She knew exactly what I needed. I think she is a mind reader. She showed me the perfect houses and narrowed my search. She made the whole process seamless. I can't recommend Shannon highly enough. She was the best!

— Jennifer E.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon was very professional and knowledgeable and I would definitely use her again. She communicated and explained the process to us the entire way and made us feel confident and relaxed. She is friendly, fair, and approachable, and our house sold for top dollar! I would highly recommend Shannon.

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon was great to work with. She guided me and my family through the process as we navigated selling our parents’ home during a difficult time. Shannon is the ultimate professional, was extremely responsive, and is an expert in the area she serves. I highly recommend Shannon Connor!

— Reados

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon helped us get our home ready to sell very quickly when we found out we had to move to the East Coast. All of her recommendations from staging to minor fixes helped us receive multiple offers on our home. She's very involved in the local community and is a pleasure to work with.

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Sold my relative's condo, as his legal representative, in Rossmoor. When the buyer backed out she had the second offer signed up within 24 hrs She knew people to get rid of the old furniture, handymen and a contractor. Highly recommend her.

— Steve G.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Shannon was a joy to work with at every step in the home process. I would recommend her hands down for sellers or buyers in the Lamorinda area. She was always responsive and went above and beyond during the whole process.

— Matthey

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

A pleasure to work with Shannon. She was super proactive and always eager to help in any way. I would most definitely recommend her to anyone looking to purchase a house. Please give her a call!

— Buyer

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