Robin Rowland - Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Realty

Do I need to bring anything along when I'm looking at homes? Bring your own notebook and pen for note taking and a flashlight for seeing enclosed areas. Be prepared to "snoop around" a little. After all, you want to know as much as possible about the home you buy. Sellers understand that because their home is on the market, it will be looked over pretty thoroughly. If you need to go back to a home for another look, we will be happy to schedule another viewing appointment. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the home, even if you feel you're being nosey. You have a right to know.


What should I tell you about the homes I look at? Tell us what you liked and didn't like about each home you saw. It is important for us to really get a feel for what you're looking for in a home in order to find your dream home. Don't be shy about talking about a home's shortcomings. Was the home perfect except for the carpeting? Let us know that, too!


How many homes should I look at before I buy? There is no set number of homes you should look at before you decide to make an offer on one. That's why providing us with as many details as possible up front is so helpful. The perfect home may be waiting for you on your first visit. Even if it isn't, the house-hunting process will help you get a feeling for the homes in the community and narrow your choices to a few homes that are worth a second look. You'll be one house closer to "your" home! If you're looking in more than one community, try to make the most of each house-hunting trip. Stop by the local Chamber of Commerce to pick up promotional literature about the community. Or ask us for welcome kits, maps, and information about schools, churches, and recreational facilities. Also, be sure to take along a camera and snap some pictures of all the homes you like. That'll make it easier to remember.


How can I find out what homes are selling for in a given neighborhood? Home sales are a matter of public record, so ask us! If you're interested in a particular home, we may be able to provide you with a list of comparables - sale prices of homes in your area that are roughly the same size and age as the home you're considering. Although there will certainly be some differences between the homes - the house next door may have an extra bedroom, or the one down the block may be older than the one you're looking at - it's a good way to evaluate the seller's asking price.


I'd like to have a professional look at the home before I buy it. What does a home inspector do? For your own safety, and to make sure you're getting your money's worth in the home you choose, using a professional home inspector is highly recommended. A home inspector generally will check a home's plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical systems, and look for structural problems, like a damp or leaky basement. Usually, you call an inspector immediately after you are "In Contract" on a home. However, before you sign any written purchase offer, make sure that it includes an inspection clause or other language which says that your purchase obligation is contingent on the findings of a professional home inspector. Your home cannot "pass" or "fail" an inspection, and your inspector will not tell you whether he or she thinks the home is worth the money you are offering. They are not there to address "value." The inspector's job is to make you aware of repairs that are recommended or necessary. A seller may be willing to renegotiate a price reduction to accommodate needed repairs, or you may decide that the home will take too much work and money. A professional inspection will help you make a clear-headed decision. In addition to the overall inspection, it may be advisable to also have separate tests conducted such as pest, pool, roof or septic inspections. Talk to us for information about these tests and companies in the area that perform them.


Should I be present during the home inspection? Yes. It's not required, but it is very much to your advantage. You'll be able to clearly understand the inspection report, and know exactly which areas need attention. Plus, you can get answers to many questions, tips for maintenance, and a lot of general information that will help you when you move into your new home. Most important, you'll see the home through the eyes of an objective third party. Remember, the purpose of a home inspection is to help you learn things about the home that are not easily discoverable during your home-buying tour. The home inspection is NOT INTENDED to be a "Laundry List" of cosmetic issues or very minor repairs for Sellers to repair or replace.


Do I need to talk to my insurance agent? Yes, and the sooner, the better. Most insurance professionals have a lot of experience in working with homeowners and can offer useful tips about home ownership, particularly regarding home safety and keeping your premiums low. Once you've found a home, work together to develop a homeowner's policy that meets your individual insurance needs. You'll need to supply your pre-paid policy to your mortgage lender prior to closing.


Is there any way I can protect myself against emergency repair bills in my new home? Yes. Home warranties offer you protection against many potentially costly problems not covered by your homeowner's insurance. They've become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason: the coverage can save you thousands in the event of a major mechanical breakdown, at a time when your cash reserves may have been depleted by your down payment and moving expenses. Ask us whether a Home Warranty is offered when looking at homes.


How do I determine the amount of my initial offer? There is really no rule to use in calculating a realistic offer. Naturally, the buyer wants the best price and value and the seller wants the highest price, but negotiations can be influenced by many factors, such as a seller who may be changing jobs and wants to sell quickly, or a buyer who really wants a specific home. After you've looked at the home's features, asked questions, checked comparables, and talked about it with us, you should have a good idea in your heart of what the home's value is in the current market. Consider what you can afford and make an offer. Most buyers and sellers negotiate on price until both agree. When the price is agreed upon, the paperwork will be signed and initialed as needed by both parties. At that point, you typically will begin the process of arranging for home and wood destroying insect inspections.


Are there any mortgages especially designed for first-time home buyers? Today, first-time home buyers enjoy a number of mortgage options that make purchasing a home more affordable by minimizing down payments and keeping monthly payments as low as possible during the early years of the loan. There are multiple options available including Tuolumne County and the City of Sonora. Make sure you ask us about these options.


How do I get started? Just call me today at (209) 536-3000 and we'll get going!