Buyer's Guide - How To Buy Your Home In San Luis Obispo County

First Things First: Your Home Search Criteria

  • What things are the most important to you in a home? 
  • Are schools important? Yes/No 
  • Which ones?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What style of home do you prefer?
  • When do you want to move in? 
  • How many bedrooms?
  • How many bathrooms? 
  • What size garage? 
  • Outdoor space? 
  • Where do you work, and how long of a commute would you prefer?
  • What is the best time to look at homes? 
  • If we found the right home for you today, would there be anything that could keep you from buying it?   
  • Does anyone else have to approve your purchase? 
  • Are you pre-approved with a lender, or are you paying cash? 

Benefits Of Receiving Daily Market Updates

Do you already have criteria for properties you're interested in?  Let Zoe connect you directly to the CRMLS, so that every day you get to see new properties BEFORE anyone on Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or any other online source can see them. This is the Direct Connect to the SLO County Real Estate Mothership, sent to your email inbox every morning, based on the criteria you provide. Would you like to receive Daily Market Updates?

5 Steps To Find Your Home

  1. Get signed up for our Daily Market Updates to receive information on all the homes that fit your specific criteria. The CRMLS Market Updates get you up to date information BEFORE Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin get it.
  2. Get Pre-Qualified with your Lender, so you won't fall in love with a house you can't afford! Also, when you find the perfect place, you need to be ready to submit your lender's pre-qualification letter with your offer so you don't get beat out by another buyer. Due to these two points, our company policy is that we require our buyers to be pre-qualified prior to showing them properties.
  3. Choose the homes that are of the highest interest to you.
  4. Zoe will schedule showings for your top homes. She recommends picking only 4 or 5 (after that, they details begin to blur together), and please give her at least a full day before the showings, as many homes require 24 hours notice because of tenants, etc.
  5. Finally, when we do find the perfect home for you, Zoe will answer all of your questions and provide you with a current market analysis to begin the offer and negotiating process. There is never any pressure from her. Zoe's goal is that you will never have buyer's remorse. She wants you to be so happy with your new home that you will refer her to all your friends and family. She will handle all the details and negotiate to your benefit, communicating with you through the entire process to keep you informed and worry free.

Sign Up For Daily Market Updates Here

The Most Common Buyer Mistakes

  • Not understanding the local market and all that is available.
  • Thinking that it is both safe and easy to buy foreclosure and short sale homes.
  • Trying to complete investigations prior to getting home under contract.
  • Weak negotiating. This can cost a buyer thousands of dollars.
  • Not requiring proper inspections and/or not understanding the reports after inspections.
  • Not understanding the importance of being pre- approved by a lender PRIOR to beginning the home buying process.
  • My unique, exclusive service educates buyers to avoid these common mistakes for a smooth home purchase.

Benefits Of Having Zoë As Your Agent

When you choose to work exclusively with Zoë, you can expect the following benefits from her:

  •  Loyalty- The agent must act in the best interest of the buyer.
  • Obedience- The agent must follow the lawful instructions of the buyer.
  • Disclosure of all material facts, including but not limited to relationships between agent and other parties, existence of other offers, the property’s true worth, the commission split with other brokers, seller’s financial condition, and legal effects of contract provisions.
  • Confidentiality- Any discussions, facts, or information can be shared freely with the confidence you’d expect from an agent working for your best interests.
  • Reasonable skill and care- Zoe will advise you and help you arrive at a reasonable purchase price, affirmatively discover material facts and disclose them to the buyer, and investigate all material facts related to the sale.

Zoe's Services Include But Are Not Limited To:

  • Provide you with a list of every home in the area of interest› 
  • Open doors so you can inspect every home first hand› 
  • Continue until you find the home that is exactly right for you› 
  • Provide you with detailed information› 
  • Counsel you so you can make informed decisions› 
  • Prepare a complete Purchase Offer for your approval› 
  • Negotiate directly with the seller and agent on your behalf› 
  • Negotiate to your benefit in every situation› 
  • Open escrow and provide information to help you make your deposit› 
  • Help find and secure the best possible financing for you› 
  • Order and coordinate all inspections for you› 
  • Help explain the inspections’ findings› 
  • Monitor the progress of your escrow DAILY› 
  • Communicate with you as frequently as needed, often every day› 
  • Carefully examine all documents and keep you and the seller on top of your commitments› 
  • Make sure that your escrow closes on time› 
  • Explain all the documents to you clearly and simply› 
  • Use electronic signatures to make your life easier› 
  • Continue to communicate with you forever› 
  • Handle all or your friends’ and family Real Estate needs› 
  • Personally provide the same excellent level of service to your referrals› 
  • Do all of this, and you pay Zoe NOTHING! (The seller pays both agents' commissions)

What Are Your Main Questions or Concerns About Buying A Home?

  • Loan Qualifications? 
  • Home Values? 
  • Location?
  • Down Payment? 
  • Monthly Payments? 
  • Previewing Homes? 
  • Pricing?
  • Closing Costs?
  • Short Sales and REOs? 
  • Financing?

Contact Zoë For Answers To Your Questions!

Call Or Text:  805.903.2258


Financing And Pre-Approval

Many buyers apply for a loan and obtain loan approval before they meet with an agent and begin looking at homes. If you have already done so, great!If you have not completed this process yet, we can help you through it! This is what will happen when you get pre-approved by your lender (if you don’t have a lender, we can refer a few great local lenders to you):

  1. A credit report will be obtained from the credit bureau
  2. Your employment records, bank accounts, and rental payments (if applicable) are verified
  3. All information is forwarded to the underwriter for approval

Loan Pre-Approval Benefits

  • You know exactly how much you can afford, eliminating wasted time looking at homes far above or below your price range.
  • You get the best financing (lowest interest rate, lowest down payment, which allow you to get the most house for your money).
  • You can make a stronger offer. You get the power of immediate action, and you can beat out other buyers who didn’t have the forethought and planning that you did.
  • It is our company policy not to show properties to buyers who haven’t been pre-approved. So if you are ready to look at homes, let’s get you pre-approved!!

Get Connected And Pre-Qualified With a Lender Today! 

  • Sean Slavin, Fairway Mortgage - 805.769.0181
  • Jeremy Engle, Engle Mortgage Team - 559.734.5000
  • Sam Cotton, The Mortgage House - 805.782.6999

A Quick Note About Short Sales and Foreclosures

1. A SHORT SALE occurs when a homeowner sells their home for less than what they owe on their mortgage. IMPORTANT: The bank must approve any offer, so even if the seller accepts your offer, it may still be rejected by the bank. Also, most short sales will have a much longer contract process than a traditional sale, because of the yards of red tape.

2. A FORECLOSURE occurs when a homeowner has defaulted on the mortgage, and the lender initiates foreclosure against the property. The property will eventually be put up for sale at auction. REAL ESTATE OWNED (REO) occurs after a successful forclosure and no successful sale at auction. The lender or bank becomes the owner of the property. Lenders will typically sell the home AS IS, meaning they won’t complete repairs on the home. The lender may require you to finance with them. There can be a problem with tenants who occupy the property and refuse to leave. Your lender may require repairs that must be completed before the close of escrow, which you may have to pay for.

Making An Offer

We’ve found your dream home! Now what? Now it’s time to determine what offer you are willing to make for the home. It is important to remember that the more competition there is for a home, the higher the offer should be, sometimes even above asking price. Remember, be realistic. Make offers you want the other party to sign.To communicate your interest in purchasing a home, we will present the listing agent with a written offer and cover letter. When you write an offer, you should be prepared to pay an earnest money deposit. In our area this is usually 2% or so of the purchase price, but it is not set by law.The offer (Residential Purchase Agreement) forms are standard forms created and approved by the California Association of Realtors. After we present your offer, it will be accepted, rejected, or the seller will make a counter offer. This is when we will negotiate terms of the counter offer if necessary. Once an offer has been successfully negotiated and executed by both parties, escrow will be opened by us or the other agent, and your deposit will need to be be placed into the escrow along with all the documents in the Purchase Agreement.

Opening Escrow

What is Escrow? Escrow is the process of exchanging money and legal documents to complete your real estate transaction. A typical Escrow takes 30-45 days to complete. An Escrow company will be selected to be the neutral third party that makes sure all the money, loans, and legal documents are in order prior to finishing your purchase. Our Escrow Officer will be the main point of contact for us at each step of the escrow process. We know some of the best Escrow Officers in SLO County, who make the process smooth, efficient, and comfortable.

ALWAYS Hire A Home Inspector!

Once you have an offer accepted, I recommend that you have a home inspection performed. I will refer some great inspectors to you to be sure you get a quality inspection. When major defects are identified, we can help determine which, if any, should be corrected by the seller. What is a major defect? It is any defect that would have a negative effect on the long term value of the home or the safety of its inhabitants if not corrected. Sometimes it is best to get repair quotes and request a dollar amount at closing or a lowered price. If the seller declines, you have the option to cancel the contract and receive your deposit back in full, or continue with the purchase.

We Always Ask For The Seller To Buy A Home Warranty

This protects you from unplanned expenses when you don’t know how reliable your appliances will be. Most cover the furnace, air conditioner, water heater, dishwasher, and many other protections that can be extremely valuable in the event unforeseen trouble occurs.

What To Expect During Escrow - Part 1

Earnest Money: At the time you make a written offer, you should be prepared to make an “earnest money deposit.” Your bank can electronically transfer the deposit to the title company. The escrow officer will walk you through the process.

Escrow and Initial Title Check: Upon acceptance of the offer signed by both parties (called a Fully Executed Contract), an escrow will be opened with a local title company. They will begin handling the details outlined in the purchase agreement. Also, a preliminary title report will be generated, which confirms that the seller is the legal owner of record of the property including all real estate taxes and special assessments.

Disclosures, Inspections, and Contingencies: The seller must disclose any material facts about the property. Disclosure of material facts can include any property defects or any lawsuits regarding claim to ownership of the property. We will work with you and arrange all necessary inspections. We will help review and explain all inspections on the home. We will work to remove each contingency only when you fully understand what each of them means to you and feel comfortable moving forward.

What To Expect During Escrow - Part 2

Homeowner’s Insurance: It is your responsibility to obtain homeowner’s insurance. Lenders always require the buyer to have proof of this insurance secured before they approve your loan. Insurance policies vary widely, so we suggest you shop around. We can refer some insurance companies to you if you’d like that help.

Appraisal of Property: The lender will arrange for the property to be appraised. The appraiser’s report will describe the physical characteristics of the property and comparable property values will be used to determine the value of the property. There will probably be a thorough interior and exterior inspection.

Loan Approval: Once all of the necessary steps are completed and your loan has been approved, the title company will be notified and the loan documents will be sent to them so that all documents can be signed at your closing appointment.

What To Expect During Escrow - Part 3

Wire Transfer: The most common way to pay the amount due at closing is via a wire transfer from your bank. This will be your remaining down payment (minus the deposit) plus your share of the closing costs.

Final Steps: You can either go to the local title company to sign your docs, or a notary can be sent to you in the event you are unable to travel. Once you have signed off, the transaction will need to be recorded by the county and a formal change of possession must take place. We will arrange for the transfer of the property keys and accessories. The “FOR SALE” sign and lockbox will be removed by the seller’s agent.

Behind the Scenes: I am working for you! I review all reports and documents, arrange inspections, negotiate any repairs, stay on top of the lender to make sure they fund on time, keep all parties informed and moving ahead, and make the closing easy for you!

What Is A Closing?

A “closing” is where you will meet at the escrow company (or a notary will be sent to you) for the purposes of signing the final escrow instructions, any loan documents, estimated funds needed to close escrow as well as your approval in writing of all the inspections, etc.. We will have already reviewed and explained in detail those reports during the escrow period.

There should be no surprises for you because we will have received and reviewed all documents prior to the closing.

If financing the property (not paying cash), your lender will require you to sign a document as evidence you are personally responsible for repaying the loan. You will also sign a mortgage or deed of trust on the property, which gives the lender the right to sell the property if you fail to make payments.

After The Closing

I maintain relationships with all of my clients. my goal is not to just close this one transaction with you, but to become your Realtor and friend for life! My commitment is to provide you, your friends, and your family members with the highest service for any and all of their real estate needs. I can refer plumbers, electricians, or the best restaurant in town. Please don’t hesitate to call me!

Your referrals are key! Maintaining ongoing relationships with our clients is part of my commitment to provide a level of real estate service well above and beyond expectations. My clients share their experience with friends and family members who then seek us out. This has allowed me to build a successful real estate practice based on referrals. As a result, I can devote more time to actually helping clients, instead of prospecting for new ones. Most Realtors spend the majority of their time trying to get new clients. If you are happy with my service, please spread the word!

My Commitment To You

  • Provide my professional services to you on a full time basis›
  • Communicate to you responsibly, honestly, and frequently› 
  • Counsel and explain all pertinent real estate documents in advance of any transaction›
  • Scour the market daily to let you know what’s available›
  • Utilize every resource in searching for available properties›
  • Show you the properties in which you are interested›
  • Perform a comprehensive market analysis on any homes on which you would like to make an offer›
  • Assist you in arranging financing and get you pre-approved now›
  • Review and counsel you on all offers, counter offers, and multiple offers›
  • Professionally and personally present your offer and negotiate the best terms for you›
  • Provide you services that match the unique way you want to be served with an emphasis on technology›
  • Coordinate inspections:  termite, contractors, well, septic, etc.›
  • Oversee paperwork throughout the transaction, escrow, and closing

Your Commitment To Zoe

There are many advantages of working with Zoe as your exclusive buyers agent. If you would like to work with her, please be willing to do the following:

  • To communicate responsibly and honestly›
  • To willingly provide pertinent information as needed›
  • To promptly inform me of all changes in timing, requirements, or other critical information which might affect the transaction› (eg. job change, etc)
  • To submit all lender required information immediately in order for us to obtain pre-approval for your loan›
  • To enter into contracts in good faith and make every effort to adhere to all negotiated contingencies, terms, and conditions›
  • To inform all other real estate agents that you are represented by Zoe Van Gundy with Taylor Hoving Realty Group (especially at open houses or in new housing developments)

Thank You For The Opportunity To Serve You With Excellence!

Sign Up For Daily Market Updates Here

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Contact Zoë

Call Or Text:  805.903.2258


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