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

See why my clients love working with me.
LH | Seller | San Jose

LH | Seller | San Jose

Caitlin is very trustworthy, awesome communicator, incredible work ethics, and she is the easy button on selling homes from the start to the finish.
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LD | Buyer & Seller | Los Gatos, SJ

LD | Buyer & Seller | Los Gatos, SJ

We love Caitlin! Caitlin was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful through the process of selling our townhouse and upgrading into our SFH during the pandemic. The market was super hot and Caitlin navigated it seamlessly. While ...
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JC | Buyer | San Jose

JC | Buyer | San Jose

Caitlin helped my wife and I purchase our first home about a year a half ago. She was recommended to us by a mutual friend. Caitlin's knowledge and expertise was helpful when making the decision to put an offer down on the pl...
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JG | Buyer | Willow Glen

JG | Buyer | Willow Glen

Caitlin is an exceptional Realtor demonstrating a good balance of EQ/IQ, fresh eyes and a deep commitment to ensuring her clients overall satisfaction. She took the time to understand exactly what we were looking for in our nex...
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DD | Buyer | Willow Glen

DD | Buyer | Willow Glen

Caitlin was a dream to work with! As first-time home buyers, we had a million questions and she was always on top of it, responding right away and knowledgeable about everything we asked. She made the process fun and seamless, ...
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MP | Seller | San Jose

MP | Seller | San Jose

Caitlin was the most professional real estate agent I have ever worked with. This is my 5th time using a real estate agent. Caitlin's attention to detail and follow-up is truly remarkable. We received a full asking price with f...
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JK | Buyer | San Jose

JK | Buyer | San Jose

As first-time home buyers, we were so daunted by the prospect of buying a home especially in this competitive market that exists in the Bay Area. When we found the home we were set on and first reached out to Caitlin, all those...
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JB | Buyer | Los Gatos

JB | Buyer | Los Gatos

I recently purchased a home in Los Gatos and Caitlin was my Realtor®. This was my first transaction with Caitlin. We had been looking for an investment property for about a month when Caitlin found an amazing home that had not ...
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SR | Seller | Sunnyvale

SR | Seller | Sunnyvale

Caitlin was wonderful to work with! Took care of everything in a very timely and efficient manner. The house looked beautiful and she was always available to answer any questions!
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JE | Buyer | Campbell

JE | Buyer | Campbell

We were out of the country when our offer was accepted and Caitlin helped us handle everything from abroad. Couldn't imagine getting this done without her help. I would highly recommend it!
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JF | Buyer | Los Gatos

JF | Buyer | Los Gatos

Caitlin was an absolute asset to our home buying experience! As first-time home buyers, we were nervous and anxious to close the deal, Caitlin held our hands every step of the way and was an absolute pro! She was very flexible ...
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SD | Buyer | Fremont

SD | Buyer | Fremont

Caitlin was very thorough in guiding us through the complete home buying process. We have come across many different agents in the home hunting process which was starting to feel cumbersome at a point. But after we met and star...
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TO | Buyer | Los Gatos

TO | Buyer | Los Gatos

I have worked with many Realtors® over the years buying and selling homes and Ms. Cintas is truly wonderful to work with. She is professional, knowledgeable, and attentive. She was extremely helpful to me as an out-of-town clie...
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RB | Buyer | Campbell

RB | Buyer | Campbell

I am a senior citizen who just bought my very first home at the age of 61! To say that I was nervous about a purchase this large at this stage of my life would be putting it mildly however, Caitlin Cintas made the process so mu...
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PS | Buyer | San Jose

PS | Buyer | San Jose

We couldn't have asked for a better home buying experience and it was all because of Caitlin's expertise and go-getter attitude. From the moment we started working with her, anything we needed she was there for us. We first sat...
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Work With Caitlin

Caitlin’s local instinct and personal network elevate her above her competitors. She understands the details involved in buying or selling a home and she is committed to providing an efficient and effective process from start to finish. Caitlin truly believes there is no better feeling than when a client is thrilled with their real estate experience.

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