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 provide insights about 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 is what makes the process worth it – finding the one. 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 are, 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 and the deed is recorded with the county, you’ll be all set to move into the home of your dreams.

Testimonials

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John L.

Jennifer was there for me whenever I had a question or concern during the selling process. She was responsive and professional. I would highly recommend her to any buyer or seller in the area that she serves.
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Angelo P.

Jennifer was fantastic in selling my four-unit property in Red Bluff. She kept everything in motion until the closing. I highly recommend her.
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Raylene W.

Jennifer Gentry assisted me in listing and selling property. She was attentive to and flexible with my needs. She regularly communicated with me throughout the process. She was knowledgeable and also had useful resources. I wou...
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Darin H.

Jennifer was very professional. She did an excellent job managing the purchase of my home. She has a very good work ethic and was always there promptly when I needed her. Not only did she do an excellent job managing the purc...
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Glen H.

Jennifer was a pleasure to deal with from start to close of escrow. She was efficient, knowledgeable, polite and professional. I would recommend Jennifer to any of my friends and relatives.
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Steve W.

Absolutely amazing experience and have a friend for life! My wife and I wanted to buy a home for my sister to move into. Jennifer contacted us and she took it from there! She took the time to really listen and understand our ne...
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Joel C.

I had an extremely great experience with Jennifer Gentry. I was a first-time home buyer and she was able to make the buying process super easy, from the first walk-through all the way to closing day. She answered all my questio...
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Kathren H.

I had the pleasure of connecting with Jennifer when I sought out a skilled real estate agent in the Red Bluff area. Jennifer is extremely responsive and always ready to hear about my client's needs. I am confident with Jennifer...
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Manuel A.

Jenn is a superstar REALTOR® with whom I recently closed a referred transaction. If you are in the market for an agent who can provide premier service and sell your home for top dollar, Jennifer should be your next call. I woul...
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Debbie K.

Jennifer is the best agent we have ever worked with!
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Born and raised in Red Bluff, Jennifer holds a deep connection to the towns and cities of Northern California she explored growing up. Her familiarity with the area and diverse list of educational and work experience act in combination to make her the ideal and qualified choice.

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