Buyer’s Guide

Working with the Chibbaro Group

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1. Initial Consultation

During our initial meeting and needs analysis, we walk you through the buying process from start to finish. From there, we create your list of wants and needs, establish the best communication channels moving forward and formalize our professional relationship.

We look forward to working closely together with you to get you the right home for the best price.

2. Get Pre-Approved

Why should you get pre-approved? Simple – to determine what you can comfortably afford and what loan amount you qualify for. This is the first step in narrowing down which homes we will be looking at. It also allows us to move quickly when we find the right house.

Getting pre-approved is quick and easy. When you apply for mortgage pre-approval, just have your recent tax returns, bank statements, and paycheck records ready. We can connect you with a few great lenders, if you don’t already have one.

Your lender is your trusted ally when it comes to the financial aspects of your house purchase. Many people believe you need 20% down payment to buy a home. However, there are many loan options available, some of them with as little as 3% or 0% down.

3. Start Your Search

At the beginning of your search, it is important for us to identify the neighborhoods you want to live in. You can save your favorite homes in our KW app, then add them to a collection – where we can comment and collaborate.

Investing in a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. So much more than a roof over your head, your home is where life unfolds and memories are made, while building a financial foundation for your future.

Your needs drive how and when we find your next home. From this day forward, everything we do will be motivated by your goals and how you imagine your life in a new environment. Once we get a thorough understanding of where you see yourself, finding your dream home will move faster and with minimal interruption to your daily life. And, it all starts here in our app.

How Do I Start My Search on the KW App?

With layers of options found on no other app, our app allows you to search by neighborhood and school district, revealing the details that matter most to you. Your neighborhood is an extension of your home. Neighbors, surroundings, and access to everyday things can and should factor into your home-buying decision. Our app provides background on neighborhoods you won’t find anywhere else – including lifestyle trends, walkability ratings, local restaurants, and more.

Once you have identified the neighborhoods that you are most interested in, favorite the homes in those neighborhoods that best meet your needs. When you tap the ‘heart’ icon next to a home that catches your eye, you will have the option to add it to a collection. From there, you can share the collection with us, a co-buyer, friends, and family. Because searching for a home is anything but a solo activity, our app allows for true collaboration so that everyone stays on the same page.

Another helpful tool you may want to consider is to create a saved search. This is a preset filtered search that updates automatically with any new homes for sale. Simply fill out your desired search criteria (neighborhood, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.) and tap the ‘save’ icon. You can then choose to be alerted through text or email whenever a new home meets your criteria. We can also set up saved searches for you, noting specific homes we think you may like and we can decide which ones are worth exploring further.

4. Tour Homes

Let’s arrange to visit the homes you’re most interested in, together and in-person, to determine the best fit for you.

When we’re ready to start looking at homes in person, it’s best to start with a consultation with a lender. I am happy to recommend a trusted professional who can talk to you about your financing options.

As your trusted partner for your home search, feel free to reach out at any time should you have any questions about any of the homes we tour.

Make the Most of Your Tours!

How do I prepare to go on home tours?
  • We’ll work together to get an accurate idea of your price range, an estimate of your monthly payments, and a pre-approval letter, so we can move quickly if need be.

  • Refining your “wants” and “needs” list will help us identify what’s most important to you, including both the location and the house itself.

  • Preview, favorite, and hide homes through the KW App to eliminate those you won’t need to visit in person.

  • Once we narrow your list, we’ll plan an itinerary together.

What should I expect when touring homes?
  • We will typically tour homes together alongside any co-buyers, friends, or family you’d like to join.
  • Homeowners usually aren’t home, so you’re free to spend as little or as much time as you want.
  • You may have a gut reaction when visiting a home. First impressions count, but I’ll advise you on home values and help evaluate priorities in the context of what’s available in your price range.

How many homes should I visit?
  • Sometimes buyers find their future home the first time out, and others look at several before they see one that checks all their boxes.

  • It’s a good idea to see at least a few alternatives so you have some points of comparison, but sometimes you just know a place is where you want to live.

What should I look for when visiting homes?
  • Look beyond the staging and decorative items to see the features and fixtures that convey with the house.

  • Check the condition of the home.

  • Keep track with photos and notes.

  • Consider possible home improvements you might want to make so you can research costs later.

  • Don’t forget to check out the outside of the property and the neighborhood. I have access to relevant neighborhood insights and data to help inform your decision.

  • Locate your commuter route, schools, shops, restaurants, parks, and other amenities.

  • If the property is a condo or located in a homeowners association, we’ll assess the fees and rules to see if you can live with them.

5. Make an Offer

You found a home you love! Now we help you structure an attractive offer, specifying purchase price, terms, and conditions. After you’ve found the one, I’ll evaluate the market and draft a well-thought-out offer that also protects your interests.

Your offer will be written using the most recent standard-purchase offer forms that comply with all state and local laws.

How do I Make my Offer?

What should I include with my offer?
  • The price

  • Terms – such as a request for closing cost help or that the offer is subject to your obtaining financing and a home inspection

  • Target date for closing

  • Earnest money deposit – I can advise you about how big your deposit should be based on local customs and current conditions

  • Request for final walk-through

  • Time limit for the offer

What are the most common contingencies?
  • Financing. Unless you’re paying cash, it’s typical to write your offer with a contingency clause that lets you off the hook if you can’t finalize your mortgage within a certain number of days. Even though you have a pre-approval for a loan, it’s smart to protect yourself.

  • Home inspection. Your offer can be made dependent on a satisfactory home inspection report within a certain number of days. This protects you if the inspection uncovers expensive necessary repairs.

What happens if I face multiple offers?

In a hot housing market, you may find yourself competing against other buyers. If that’s the case, I will work on your behalf, strategizing for your offer to be accepted. With access to real-time market data, I’ll know how to best position your offer.

If there’s more than one on the table, the seller can:

  • Accept the best offer

  • Counter all the offers to get a better price and terms

  • Counter one offer that’s close to what they want

Working to find out what’s important to the seller, such as a specific moving date, and to discuss possibly waiving contingencies, adjusting your price, or writing a “love letter” about the house are all options we can consider when facing multiple offers.

What is a counteroffer?

The seller can accept your offer as is, or they can make a counteroffer with an adjustment to your terms. You can accept or reject the counteroffer and make your own counteroffer. The contract is final once you and the seller have agreed to all terms.

I’ll work on your behalf to negotiate the terms of your purchase.

6. Contract & Escrow

Once your offer is accepted, the Escrow process begins. As part of the California settlement process, an escrow company serves as a neutral intermediate until all the mutually agreed upon conditions between the parties have been met.

The crucial period between an offer and a final contract is an important time to stay in close contact with us, so you’re equipped with all the information you need to make smart decisions.

What should I expect to see in the contract?

Some of the key points in your multipage contract include:

  • Accuracy of information, including the correct spelling of your name and the property address

  • The effective date of the contract – important because your contingencies have time limits

  • A list of contingencies, such as that the sale depends on financing, an appraisal, a satisfactory home inspection, and perhaps the sale of your current home

  • Property disclosure information from the seller, depending on your state laws

  • A complete list of what conveys with the property

  • A list of required inspections, such as a home inspection and a pest inspection

  • Information about when you can move in

  • In some cases, such as if your offer is contingent on the sale of your home, the seller may add a “kick-out” clause, which means that the seller could accept another offer if one is made before your home is sold

We’ll review the contract with you to make sure all of your questions are answered.

Negotiate Like an Expert

How do I know when to negotiate and when to let go?

We’ll work together to balance how much you want a particular property and what you’re willing to accept to get it.

You may want to let go when:

  • A bidding war drives the price too high

  • The appraised value of the home is below your offer

  • A home inspection finds defects that would be expensive to repair

  • The seller is unwilling to make reasonable repairs

  • You learn about homeowners association rules that won’t work for you

What are common contract pitfalls I should avoid?

We’ll watch out for:

  • Unrealistic deadlines: you’ll need time to arrange a home inspection and receive the report, as well as arrange financing. Missing deadlines means you lose your chance to end the contract and keep your deposit

  • Items that don’t convey with the property: if you’re not sure, we can discuss it

  • Communications from your lender

  • According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the most common reasons for contracts to fail or be delayed are home inspection problems, financing problems, or an appraisal issue.

We will be by your side at every step to help you navigate the complexities of a real estate contract. 

What Happens After the Seller Accepts?

When the purchase agreement is accepted and signed by all parties, we will open escrow. You have 3 Days After Acceptance to get your “earnest money” deposited into Escrow. This is usually 3% of the purchase price and counts toward your down payment.

7. Home Inspection

A professional home inspection, which discloses vital information about a home, is a must before finalizing your purchase. As soon as your offer is accepted, we’ll schedule your home inspection. We have a number of trusted home inspectors we can turn to.

What is a home inspection?

Your home inspector will check a massive list (more than 1,000 items) of systems, appliances, and structures in your home to evaluate its condition. You’ll get a written report that identifies potential problems and future maintenance issues. We’ll look at it together to decide whether the report means you want to walk away from a house or ask the sellers to make repairs. You can also have an “information only” inspection, which means you’re buying the house as is, but want to know its condition.

After the Inspection

Following inspections, we may submit a Request for Repairs, which will either ask the seller to repair an issue or give a credit based on the findings of the inspection. Once a decision has been made, the buyer signs the inspection results, thus removing the inspection contingency. At this point, as the buyer, you cannot pull out of the transaction without losing the deposit, unless the home does not appraise or you cannot get a loan. The seller has the option of agreeing to the repairs, or they may negotiate the price down to compensate for needed repairs.

What Happens at the Home Inspection?

Together, we’ll attend the home inspection to learn more about home maintenance and so you can see any potential problems yourself. The inspector can answer questions as you go, so if there’s anything you don’t understand or are worried about, just ask.

What’s included in a home inspection?

The inspector will check:

  • Structural conditions such as the foundation, beams, and floors

  • Roof condition

  • Mechanical systems such as heat and air conditioning

  • Appliances – to make sure they’re working

  • Plumbing – for leaks, rust, and water pressure

  • Electrical systems such as grounded outlets and code violations

  • Safety issues such as stairs, handrails, mold, or chimney maintenance

I’ve got the home inspection report, now what?

We can decide whether to negotiate on anything in the inspection report and ask the inspector the following questions:

  • Are the items you’ve flagged major or minor issues?

  • What needs to be done to resolve any flagged issues?

  • Can you give me an estimate of the cost of any repairs?

  • Do I need another inspection, such as by an electrician or a structural engineer?

  • Are there things I need to do after I move in?

We’ll be your partner in helping you understand the implications of the home inspection.

8. Appraisal

As you near the end of your home purchase journey, one of the last remaining steps is getting your future home appraised. As part of their due diligence, lenders insist on an official appraisal before issuing their final loan approval.

If we structured the offer to include an appraisal contingency, an appraiser will come out to the property. As a standard of California law, every home must be properly fitted with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and the water heater must be double strapped. The appraiser will check for this. During this visit, they will be taking notes on the property, measuring square footage, and lot size to ensure it matches the tax assessor information.

Once the lender approves the funding, the loan contingency will be removed.

Once all financing and other requirements finish, it’s time for closing. First, the Title Company runs a title search. Most contracts state that the seller must provide a free and clear title to the buyer. The lender will most likely require title insurance. The Title Company runs a final title search to make sure the title is considered free and clear. Finally, the lender sends the final loan documents to the escrow agent or attorney for the seller.

9. Home Insurance

& Warranty

Home insurance protects your new home and belongings from accidental damages, while a home warranty helps to maintain the essential, major systems and appliances that can be costly to repair out of pocket.

Once the appraisal is completed, lenders usually require that homeowner’s insurance must be secured.

Make sure you insure your home with a plan that fits. We will gladly put you in touch with our trusted partners to evaluate what level of insurance and warranty makes sense for your new home and your unique situation.

Home Warranty

Some home sellers pay for a home warranty that covers them while their home is on the market and conveys to the buyers after the sale. We can work together to determine whether we should negotiate for the seller to pay for a warranty or buy one yourself.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty policy, which typically lasts for one year and is renewable, provides coverage for some of your home’s systems and appliances. In return for the annual fee, the company will cover repair costs and arrange for contractors. You’ll pay a deductible fee and possibly service fees if you need to use the warranty.

Do I need a home warranty?

If you’re buying an existing home, especially one with appliances that are more than four years old, a home warranty can give you peace of mind about paying for unexpected repairs and finding a reliable contractor. If you’re a first-time buyer, especially if you have limited savings, this can be particularly important.

If you have plenty of emergency savings, you’re handy, or you know good contractors, you may not need a warranty. You can count on us to provide referrals for recommended contractors.

If you’re buying a newly built home, structural defects are usually under warranty by the builder for 10 years, and other items are typically covered for six months to two years, so you don’t usually need a home warranty.

You can always turn to us for home warranty recommendations and advice.

What should I look for in a home warranty?

To choose a good home warranty, look out for:

  • The home warranty company’s license with your state’s real estate commission

  • The fine print – that’s where you’ll find exclusions and limitations

  • What’s covered and what’s not

  • The coverage limits – your repairs will only be paid for up to a specific level

  • Service fees and deductibles

  • How quickly service and claims are handled

  • How contractors are vetted and what happens if you use your own

  • Coverage differences between a basic warranty and enhanced warranty

  • Online reviews

We’ll be your partner in helping you understand the implications of the home inspection.

10. Close & Move

Your new home is close at hand! Let’s get ready to gather the required documents, sign the paperwork, and hire a mover. Our free moving concierge service can help you get up and running faster in your new home.

What should I do before the closing?

We’ll stay in close communication to make sure that your questions are answered and you feel ready to sign on the dotted line.

As your closing day nears, keep this list handy:

  • Stay in close touch with us, your lender, and title company.
  • Avoid lowering your credit score with a new credit application or late payments.

  • Confirm that your contract contingencies are resolved, including the home inspection, an appraisal, and your financing.

  • Finalize your homeowners insurance policy.

  • Gather your down payment and closing-cost funds in an accessible account.

  • Review your closing disclosure form, which you’ll receive three days before your settlement, and ask questions if you don’t understand something.

  • Arrange a wire transfer or get a cashier’s check for the funds you need for the settlement.

  • Schedule a walk-through of your new home within 24 hours before your closing to check its condition.

The Closing Process

What can I expect at the closing?

We’ll be finalizing all of the paperwork to close on the sale of your new home. You will want to allot a few hours for your closing.

Bring to the closing:

  • A government-issued photo ID

  • Proof of homeowners insurance

  • Your copy of the contract

  • All paperwork associated with your loan and the home purchase

  • Your cashier’s check or wire transfer confirmation

  • Your checkbook for miscellaneous funds that weren’t included on your closing estimate

What paperwork is required to close?

You’ll be signing numerous documents, including a repeat of the documents you signed when you applied for your loan. The most important documents you’ll sign are:

  • Promissory note to repay the mortgage
  • Deed of trust, which gives the lender the right to foreclose if you don’t repay the loan
  • Initial escrow disclosure, which outlines the funds on deposit for your property taxes and homeowners insurance bills
  • Right to cancel form, which states that you have three business days to cancel the transaction