Marin County Home Purchase: First Time Home Buyer Advice

Posted by Annalise Demuth on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 at 1:10pm.


Very rarely does a first time home buyer (FTHB) get their offer accepted on the first property they submit an offer on.  

I like to blog about real time experiences that my clients experienced during the purchase of their property. If you are a FTHB with the intent to purchase this year, this blog will be very informative for you.

So often when showing a home to a FTHB their knowledge of homes and what to expect from a home can only be acquired by the experience of looking at many homes in their price range over the course of time.  Sometimes a FTHB will very quickly come across a home that they want to purchase.  This was the case with a FTHB client I worked with last month.

Although it is my job to shepherd all my clients through the home purchase process, let them know what to expect, and how to make wise decisions, what I can't do is provide them with the experience of having written several offers that were not accepted. This kind of experience shortens the list of expectations a FTHB has and lowers the bar a bit.  

For instance, in this particular scenario my client identified the third home she'd seen as the home she wanted to purchase.  The list price was $1,395,000 and an offer date had been set the Tuesday after the second Sunday open house.  On the day offers were due there were a total of 5 offers submitted.  

After much conversation with the listing agent and my client, I advised my client to submit an offer at $1,535,000, 25 day close and 10 days on the inspection contingency.  As it happened, my client was able to offer all cash, a HUGE advantage over other offers. (See my blog about all cash offers here to better understand why they are so delicious to the seller).  I didn't want my client to overpay and put too much money on the table.  But I also wanted them to have a chance at a counter offer and my sense was that if the seller did not accept their offer, they would at least get a counter offer.  I also advised my client write a letter to the seller explaining why she was interested in purchasing the sellers' home.  

As it turned out the seller choose to counter my client only.  This is VERY uncommon, as the seller could have countered all the other offers. However, the letter my client wrote and the terms of the offer impressed the seller.    


Now you're probably in shock and explicating all manner of swear words at the brevity of time frames and sticker price.  Let me say that it wasn't easy to get my client to submit that offer. She was inherently uncomfortable with the shortness of the terms and price, despite the comparable sold properties I provided with equivalent time frames and price or shorter time frames and a higher sales price.  This is that lack of experience thing.  Without having had several or more offers submitted turned down, my clients' general expectations of the process were at a different level than that needed when submitting one of many offers on the same property.  Luckily, she trusted my experience and guidance, as in part, that is one of the reasons she received a counter offer.

So on with the story then.... Yes, my client received a counter offer.  The terms were $1,595,000.00, 15 day close and 7 days on the inspections!  Holy Molly!  We countered to $1,595,000.00, 25 day close and 8 days on the inspections, though my client did not think it could be done.  The seller accepted.  

During the inspections the pest inspector discovered some undisclosed issues that added up to about 15K to 25K of work depending on who you hire and how much you fix.  My client asked the seller for a credit/price reduction and the seller denied the request as the seller had 4 other offers to fall back on.  This did not sit well with my client, however she opted to buy the home as it was for the agreed upon terms and price.  And yes, I was able to get everything done in 8 days that my client needed to know in order to confirm her desire to buy the home and remove her inspection contingency.

In the long run, or 22 days later (we closed early), the smile on my clients' face when I handed her the keys told me she was OK and happy to have bought her first home.  

I've worked with clients that have been looking for a home to purchase for years, most for months, and a select few for days.  It is common to have looked for a home for months, and written many offers over the course of months, and sadly for those offers to not have been accepted.  In our robust seller's market, multiple offers are to be expected for a seller to choose from, and a sold price 10s of thousand to 100s of thousands over the list price.  I hate to say this, but the lower the expectations of the property and the process, the better the experience will be in buying property. 

Annalise Demuth is a licensed Realtor with Marin Modern Real Estate.   Contact Annalise for assistance buying or selling homes, condominiums or multi-family dwellings in either Marin County or the East Bay.

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