Buyers

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. 

Testimonials

Buyer

Buyer

Working with Elena makes it abundantly clear why having a great Realtor® on your team matters. We decided to contact Elena and got her number referred to us by my cousin who had worked with her in the past. Right off the bat, w...
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Tony A.

Tony A.

We were quickly outgrowing our townhome with 3 kids and had started looking for a single-family home, but we were not sure as to how to approach the entire thing. We did not engage any Realtor® and started looking on our own (s...
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Buyer

Buyer

We had an excellent experience with Elena as our buyer agent. As first-time home buyers, we were lost in the myriad of options and felt intimidated by the whole process. Elena was exceptional from the get-go. She spent close to...
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

We contacted Zillow to schedule an appointment to view a property that was for sale and we were randomly connected with Elena Licari of Compass Realty. We were fortunate to have been connected with Elena. It turned out to be a ...
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Chandra M.

Chandra M.

Selling a home that one has expanded and filled for 20+ years and finding a new dream home is, by all means, a daunting task if not impossible. After a couple of disappointing encounters with Realtors®, when I contacted Elena, ...
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Seller

Seller

We recently closed the sale of our primary home with the help of Elena and I am very happy to share my experience working with her. More than just an agent she was our guide and adviser who has deep knowledge of her domain. Aft...
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Buyer

Buyer

We were lucky to have accidentally found Elena on Zillow. I was looking for houses for about 8 months. Nothing on the market caught my eye. So I desperately need someone that has connections with the off-market listing and real...
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Andrii Z.

Andrii Z.

Elena helped us buy our dream home. When we started to look for a house we were very new to the real estate market, its rules, and terminology. Elena did several video meetings with us and explained in detail all stages of buyi...
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Marc M.

Marc M.

We were fortunate to have Elena recommended by a family friend. Our experience with her was outstanding. We could not have asked for more from a selling agent! Ours was a complicated transaction involving the sale of a family h...
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Seller

Seller

What a simple and pleasant task to write this review on our wonderful agent. Elena Licari. I found Elena based on her record and did not regret it for a single moment. It was immediately clear that helping people to buy and sel...
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Seth S.

Seth S.

We just sold our house in Campbell (July 2021) and had a fantastic experience working with Elena. She was professional, always on time, a great negotiator, and answered all our questions well. She has a great sense of aesthetic...
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Rayner B.

Rayner B.

We are fortunate enough to have found our dream home with Elena's help and experience. Elena helped us navigate through different areas and neighborhoods in the bay area before we narrowed down on where we wanted to be in the n...
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Victoria G.

Victoria G.

Elena was recommended to me by another real estate professional. Elena used her excellent knowledge and analysis of the local market to create the selling strategy, suggested several pricing options, and provided all the releva...
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Buyer

Elena has been a joy to work with. We were looking for a house with very specific needs during COVID times. She understood our needs well and did her research to help us narrow it down to a smaller list of houses so that we spe...
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Rajendran N.

Rajendran N.

Elena is the ultimate Realtor®. We were introduced to her as we were entering the market earlier this year. We had an outstanding experience with her starting with our initial Zoom call where she walked us through what we could...
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Jesh S.

Jesh S.

In Elena, I did not find an agent at all I found a friend with who I could be very open and frank. What really stands out about her (something I was skeptical about before I started the home buying process) was unlike other age...
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Alice Z.

Alice Z.

As first-time home buyers, we are very grateful to have Elena as our agent. She is professional and knowledgeable and explained everything we need to know about a home purchase. After knowing our lifestyle and top priorities in...
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Buyer

Buyer

Elena is the best! Elena is knowledgeable, friendly, very easy to work with, and very responsive. She made our first dream home buying process a breeze. Elena is a doer! You have questions, just ask her. She will answer or get ...
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Buyer

Buyer

We were looking to buy our first home and choose Elena looking at a lot of positive reviews about her. After meeting her in person for our first home tour we were really impressed with her extensive knowledge. She has guided us...
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

Elena spent a year with us as we struggled to find the right house in the right neighborhood with the right schools. We are ecstatic with our new place in Los Altos and are grateful to Elena for her expertise (and her patience)...
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Elena's philosophy is simple: clients come first. She pledges to be in constant communication with her clients, keeping them fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process.

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