Buying a Home

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. 

Our Testimonials

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Buyers of 2112 Ruhland Avenue, Redondo Beach

Buyers of 2112 Ruhland Avenue, Redondo Beach

Nikki and the entire Lane Team are a pleasure to work with! They know the Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach (where we were searching) areas and neighborhoods very well. They were very responsive to our requests a...
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Sellers of 2214 Plant Ave. #A, Redondo Beach

Sellers of 2214 Plant Ave. #A, Redondo Beach

Thank you for expediting the sale of our house in Redondo Beach so efficiently. Your attention to detail and professional advice helped us prepare for the sale and we appreciate all that you did to get the house sold and closed...
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Renters of 6719 Crest Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

Renters of 6719 Crest Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

I really appreciate all Christi’s knowledge of the Rancho Palos Verdes Area since we knew nothing about the area other than it was a beach community. She kept us informed and moving in the right direction. I also like how she l...
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Renters of 5949 Abernathy Drive, Los Angeles

Renters of 5949 Abernathy Drive, Los Angeles

My husband and I needed to relocate to Los Angeles after several years away from the Southern California area. Once introduced, Christi got to work right away, adding us to the MLS listings so we could see what kind of homes we...
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Buyers of 1805 23rd Street, Manhattan Beach

Buyers of 1805 23rd Street, Manhattan Beach

We worked with Bob to find a home in the south bay, specifically Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach. We're a young family looking to get our foot in the door in a highly desirable and competitive area, and Bob worked his tail off...
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Sellers of 224 19th Street, Manhattan Beach

Sellers of 224 19th Street, Manhattan Beach

We have known Bob Lane for 15 years as a friend and neighbor and have come to know Nikki as well. We are so fortunate to have a trusted friend who is also one of the top real estate agents in California to sell our house. Bob h...
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Sellers of 2022 & 2022A Perry Avenue, Redondo Beach (Duplex)

Sellers of 2022 & 2022A Perry Avenue, Redondo Beach (Duplex)

We worked with Bob Lane 12 years ago to purchase a rental property as an investment. He did an amazing job of finding us the perfect property (after a rather exhaustive search). When we were ready to sell that property, we had ...
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Buyers of 330 Rees Street, Playa Del Rey

Buyers of 330 Rees Street, Playa Del Rey

We had worked with another Realtor® we liked in the past but felt we needed to go in a different direction. Nikki and Bob were recommended to us and we’re so grateful we found them. They helped us narrow down our search area, a...
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Sellers 2516 Pacific Ave., Manhattan Beach

Sellers 2516 Pacific Ave., Manhattan Beach

We listed our home with Bob Lane and give him our highest recommendation. Bob delivered on all of his pre-listing commitments, from his market-supported pricing recommendations, advertising the property as agreed, holding open ...
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Buyers of 1719 Farrell Avenue #A, Redondo Beach

Buyers of 1719 Farrell Avenue #A, Redondo Beach

Working with Nikki, Bob and Christi was a wonderful experience. They were diligent, efficient, organized and took so much stress out of buying our first home. As first time home buyers, we had a lot of questions. Nikki provided...
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Sellers of 533 15th St, Manhattan Beach & Buyers of 133 6th St, Manhattan Beach

Sellers of 533 15th St, Manhattan Beach & Buyers of 133 6th St, Manhattan Beach

I am a Real Estate Attorney, Law School Negotiation Professor, and former President of a Residential Real Estate Development Company. I know every facet of a Real Estate transaction, yet the market insights and negotiation guid...
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Buyers of 3651 W 147th Street, Hawthorne

Buyers of 3651 W 147th Street, Hawthorne

Christi made the buying process a breeze. We felt as if we got the best deal possible during a competitive bidding process because of Christi’s hard work and dedication. Not only is she personal but she was able to answer every...
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Buyers of 2312 Grandview Ave, Manhattan Beach & Sellers of 211 South Guadalupe Ave #3, Redondo Beach

Buyers of 2312 Grandview Ave, Manhattan Beach & Sellers of 211 South Guadalupe Ave #3, Redondo Beach

Bob found us the perfect lot and we have now built our dream house! He helped get the lot we wanted in a multiple bid situation and then he helped us sell our condo. In both transactions, he always listened to us carefully, gav...
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Sellers of 539 23rd Street, Manhattan Beach & Buyers of 570 27th Street, Manhattan Beach

Sellers of 539 23rd Street, Manhattan Beach & Buyers of 570 27th Street, Manhattan Beach

Bob Lane and his team were a pleasure to work with for both the buying and selling process. Not only are they incredibly professional and knowledgable about the area, they were also very patient with us as we searched for the b...
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Landlord 2320 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach

Landlord 2320 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach

Working with Nikki has been an absolute pleasure! We have a rental property in Manhattan Beach and she always seems to find the perfect renter for us. Nikki is smart, hardworking and reliable. She always responds quickly to tex...
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Tenants of 212 21st Street, Manhattan Beach

Tenants of 212 21st Street, Manhattan Beach

Christi was wonderful to work with from day 1! She not only gave us the full rundown on all the local neighborhoods, she also helped us secure a very unique situation by negotiating a deal where we were able to sign a lease for...
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Seller of 3109 N. Poinsettia Avenue, Manhattan Beach

Seller of 3109 N. Poinsettia Avenue, Manhattan Beach

Bob Lane is a consummate professional and a nice guy. He sold our first house in Manhattan Beach many years ago (when we were both young?). When I decided to sell the MB house I’d inherited from my parents, I immediately contac...
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Seller of 121 Moonstone St, Manhattan Beach

Seller of 121 Moonstone St, Manhattan Beach

Bob did a great job helping us sell our home. He gave us excellent advice throughout the entire process and the entire process was very fast, efficient and smooth. We appreciated Bob’s marketing advice, his pre-sale suggestions...
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Renters of 24371 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lomita

Renters of 24371 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lomita

Christi was extremely helpful and genuinely interested in helping my fiancé and me find the perfect new home. She immediately made all of our needs and requests her top priority. She took into consideration every aspect of our ...
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Renter of 660 17th Street, Manhattan Beach

Renter of 660 17th Street, Manhattan Beach

Nikki made a difficult process of finding a home much better. She is a smooth operator who knows her market, knows most of the other Realtors®, and knows where to find the right home. She took the time to get to know me and wha...
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Why Work With Us?

We are a father-daughters Real Estate Team that has been working in the Manhattan Beach & South Bay area since 1980. We have been a top producing real estate team locally for many years & combined our team has 51+ years of experience. Being born & raised in the South Bay we have the advantage of knowing the neighborhoods better than anyone else. Our team is here to help, contact us today.

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