Buyer Tips

Barstow Real Estate Group offers tips for first-time homebuyers with a checklist of the 10 essential steps to help make the process smooth and successful.

Step #1: Ask Your Lender About Available Mortgage Programs:

An experienced mortgage company should be able to work with you one-on-one to determine exactly which mortgage programs will meet your individual needs and what you can qualify for based on your personal information. Applicants with higher credit ratings and/or higher levels of financial reserves generally receive more competitive mortgage rates. But with hundreds of available mortgage programs, there is usually one to meet the needs of almost any homebuyer. For those with excellent credit, there is even a way to get a mortgage with 0% down.

Step #2: Research the Terms of the Mortgage:

Different mortgage lenders have varying price structures that can affect the amount that you pay for your home. An annual percentage rate (APR) includes the actual interest rate on the loan, as well as certain fees and costs associated with the loan. Because a customer may be paying “points” and other closing costs, the APR disclosed may appear to be higher than the actual interest rate quoted for the loan. Not all lenders calculate APR identically; however, it does give customers a relatively fair method of comparing price on their potential loans.

Step #3: Get a Pre-Qualified Loan Commitment: 

Even before the house hunting begins, homebuyers need to determine how much they can afford. Mortgage companies or other lending institutions provide pre-qualified loan commitments. Sellers often don't take an offer seriously unless the prospective first-time buyer has some assurance of creditworthiness from a mortgage company. Shopping for a home with a pre-approved mortgage enables a customer to negotiate as a cash buyer and submit an offer on a home with confidence that the mortgage will be issued and the sale will be completed.

Step #4: Do Your "Home-work":

Be sure to go online to sites such as to check for listings, neighborhood information, current mortgage information and home ownership services. The right amount of research will help you to better understand the marketplace and homes available in your price range when you’re ready to work with a real estate professional.

Step #5: Make a Checklist:

To help make the home buying process a little easier, homebuyers should create a checklist of the important features they want in a home. Location and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are usually important. Other important questions to answer: What will the commute to work be like? Are there shopping centers, parks, and schools located near the home?

Step #6: Find a Buyer's Broker:

A buyer's broker or agent represents the buyer’s interests and helps identify homes that are for sale and in the right price range. The broker also can help with such tasks as writing contracts, negotiating the asking price, and closing the purchase.

Step #7: Make an Offer:

Once you find the right house, make an offer. Make sure that your offer is contingent on two items: 1) You're able to obtain adequate financing (if you haven't done so already), and 2) you can pull out if the property doesn't pass the home inspection, and the owner can't come to terms about how to fix the problem. Be prepared for counter-offers from other buyers and some negotiation with the seller. Make an earnest money deposit, which is a check that you'll give your agent to indicate that you're serious about buying the house. The check will apply toward the sales price if the deal goes through; if not, you get it back. You should also set a time limit with your agent that the offer you've made is good for three days. If an offer is accepted, it goes to the contract phase.

Step #8: Hire A Home Inspector:

Making an offer contingent on an inspection by a registered home inspector can save thousands of dollars by avoiding unseen problems. Inspectors will check the house for any structural damage. In the contract with the seller, it should state any necessary repairs that must be made before closing on the house. Prior to closing, walk through the house and check that such repairs have been completed.

Step #9: Buy Homeowners Insurance:

Lenders require homeowners insurance to protect the new homebuyer's interests as well as their own. There are many providers so shop around for the best rates.

Step #10: The Closing:

This is where the seller and buyer sign settlement-closing papers to transfer the ownership of the home and all transactions are finalized. Congratulations, you achieved the American dream and you are now a homeowner!

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May 24th 2017

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I am writing this in response to your request for feedback for the services of your Barstow Real Estate Group's Agent, Nancy J. Wunker.

First, let me explain that Nancy listed the property with Jack Fordyce who held the property as part of his Trust Estate. Jack was 87 years old; the property had been a rental for the past many years and was in need of updating and repairs. Nancy helped him tremendously in obtaining workman, supplies and services. Jack lived in Huntington Beach while the property was in Barstow so this assistance was extremely appreciated.

Ironically, on the day that Jack passed away, an offer was presented for the purchase of the property and I, as Successor Trustee of Jack's Trust, was thrust into immediate service. You can imagine what it was like losing a family member and at the same time having to attend to: accepting an offer to purchase, signing disclosures and all of the papers necessary to open escrow and providing all the documentation necessary for me to take over as the seller on property that I knew nothing about and was located quite a distance from me.

This was in addition to handling other duties of the Trust, such as transferring bank accounts, paying funeral expenses, obtaining Death Certificates, to name just a few; and all quite overwhelming.

As you know, in all Real Estate transactions, time is of the essence when you have a buyer that is ready and able to perform so everything had to happen quickly and accurately in order to have a smooth transaction. Nancy was the ultimate professional. She took charge and handled so many details I can't begin to list them all but included finishing some of the repairs, taking care of anything that the inspectors and the lenders found necessary to fix, handling escrow procedures and countless other tasks that were necessary including forwarding all the faxes that needed signatures, etc., turning on utilities, dealing with issues regarding the pool. She was on top of everything and kept me informed as well.

The escrow was slated to be closed January 18, 2016, and it closed December 9, 2015 in a mere 50 days from offer to close.

As you can see, I would not have been able to accurately describe her value in your survey. She performed above and beyond my expectations and made my duties as Successor Trustee so much easier in an already stressful time.

Thank you for the opportunity to again express my gratitude for Nancy's services.

Carol Halperin, Successor Trustee

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Barstow Real Estate Group