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 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.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Working with Paul Zuvella for the sale of my home was a great experience. Moving across the country and busy starting a new job, I had full confidence in Paul's ability to drive the entire sales process without me needing to be in the loop for the day-to-day items. Paul coordinated everything inspections, contractor appointments, sales/marketing collateral, staging, open house, negotiations, etc. He kept...

— Carla

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
We hired Paul Zuvella to sell our family home in what could only be described as a very stressful time for our family. And then covid-quarantine hit. Paul was professional, kind, and most of all, determined to make the sale happen. He helped us with a turnkey plan to empty and update a home that was well-loved for 20+ years. Within a day of the home going up for sale, we had multiple bids. Paul’s goal wa...

— Sophie R.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
We have sold two homes and bought one through Paul Zuvella. He is very professional and has the best interest of his clients always at heart. The real test of a good agent is when things don't go smoothly. Paul faced an issue with our potential buyer not getting approved due to an error in how they submitted their loan documents. Rather than sit back and leave this up to the buying agents, Paul helped gu...

— Kevin J.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
It has been a pleasure doing business with you. To tell the truth, before we met you we changed several agents, they were all very nice, but none of them seemed to know what we wanted. That was why we ended up hunting houses ourselves. From day one, we met you at an open house, and we knew you were the right one for our real estate needs. We were very impressed with the way that you analyzed the property...

— Siwei & Nelson H.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
We love Paul! He was our buying agent 6 years ago. He’s a no-pressure agent who knew exactly what we were looking for and patiently helped us for nearly 3 years until we found this dream home. For the last 6 years, Paul has never lost contact with us. His motto is “once a customer, always a friend!” Now he is helping us sell this house as we need to move across the country. Paul has contacts to help with...

— Tammy S.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
My wife and I could not have been in more capable hands than with Realtor®/broker paul novella and His wife Laurie. Due to paul’s preparation and thorough approach to selling our house, we were able to sell our home at a price I still cannot believe. Paul handled every detail and was the consummate professional. The ‘complete selling package’ that Paul puts together resulted in an astounding, 25 serious ...

— Dale & Sandie C.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
If you are interested in selling or buying a home in the area, I highly recommend that you enlist the services of Paul Zuvella and his wife, Laurie. I recently listed my Canyon Crest home using their services and I found them to be extremely knowledgeable, professional and helpful! Do yourself a favor and hire a Realtor® who you can depend on when selling or buying during a real estate transition that ca...

— Robin M.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Paul Zuvella did an excellent job assisting me in the purchase of a single-family townhome in walnut creek. His excellent counsel, local knowledge, and high level of responsiveness led my family and me to find the right home for a reasonable price in a tough market for buyers. Paul's advice in the price negotiation was particularly on point and definitely saved me money. I would recommend Paul to anyone ...

— Dimitri

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I found Paul to be very professional yet very personable and understanding. I appreciated the fact that he was able to be neutral in a difficult situation. He was able to keep both parties informed of all the things taking place. It made the entire ordeal of selling the house and getting what I think a good and fair price for it, a less stressful situation. Thanks, Paul for your time and honest effort in...

— Roger F.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Not every home sale is ‘a walk.’ We had tenants living in our property and their feelings and idiosyncrasies had to be considered. Both Paul and Laurie were wonderful at smoothing feathers while continuing to move the process forward. Paul’s thoroughness and confidence were refreshing to work with. Were life more like Monopoly, and I could buy and sell property on a whim - I’d call on Paul every time!

— Brad & Tinnis K.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Paul hit a home run when it comes to the business of real estate! We couldn’t be more pleased with the process of selling our home and buying a new one. Paul and his wife, Laurie, are well known in the community and maintain crucial relationships with key industry professionals. This experience has been stress free and pleasurable, accomplishing all of our goals! We highly recommend this dynamic duo.

— Matt & Leslie R.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Julie and I can’t thank you enough for the outstanding job you did handling the marketing and sale of our home. After initially listing the property with the wrong agent you certainly came to our rescue. Being an agent selling and leasing commercial real estate, it was such a pleasure to work with a residential agent as professional, experienced, and responsive as you during the entire sale process.

— Michael & Julie C.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I have sold homes in the past but have never experienced the same level of on-target marketing, help in preparing the house for sale, expert pricing, and ongoing attention. Your strategy of when to have the brokers’ tour, open house, and accept offers worked brilliantly. Needless to say, I could not be happier!

— Stella S.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Your energy and effort was not only greatly appreciated, but rewarded us with a fine return on our investment. In addition, not to go unnoticed was your continued personal contact and support, after the sale was made. I particularly appreciated this extra effort on your part, since I was 3000 miles away.

— Edward G.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Paul Zuvella was very helpful and explained each step clearly. He was very knowledgeable about housing in the area. He kept us informed and never left us wondering what was happening. We were very pleased with the service we received from Paul and would highly recommend him.

— Carlo & Chris M.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Paul patiently searched two years for the perfect house for my wife and me. We were rewarded with our dream home in Danville. He was diligent, thorough, and informative throughout the entire process. A class act in all aspects of the word! No higher recommendation!

— Billy B.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Because I am in the title business I know many good Realtors® and in fact spoke to three others. Your listing presentation was by far the most professional and you were the best prepared to talk with me. I would and will refer you to my friends without hesitation.

— Peggy L.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I would not hesitate at all to use Paul in the future but I would also recommend him to any friend in need of an agent. My experience with Paul simply could not have been more pain-free. The best agent I have ever dealt with.

— Mark I.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
In some respects, I know I am probably not the easiest client to deal with, with my ability to ask seemingly limitless questions, and my insistence that all the i’s be dotted and t’s be crossed. But you were up to the task.

— Larry & Diana I.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Paul took care of me while going through the difficult process of selling my home for 20 years. My family and I were very attached. He was very patient and understanding through the process.

— Ann M.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Paul understood my needs and very effectively guided every aspect of the sale process to achieve my goals, the result is a sale with excellent terms. Thank you, Paul!

— Christine

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
He is a very polite and nice gentleman.

— Biswanath K.

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