1 - Hire a Full-time Santa Barbara Real Estate Agent that Works Often or Exclusively with Buyers.
A CA real estate agent has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for the best interest of their client.
This duty is clearly spelled out in the Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationship as: (a) Diligent exercise or reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent's duties (b) A duty of honesty and fair dealing and good faith (c) A duty to disclose all facts know to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that are not know to, or within the diligent attention and observation of, the parties.
There are a lot of legal and arduous steps that are taken from the first stage of deciding to look for a home to buy, searching for a home, finding a home, going through escrow, to finally closing on the property.
Make is easy on yourself.
Contrary to the thought process of "the-do-it-yourself-mentality", you will most likely save a lot of time and money along the way by working with a hard working full-time Santa Barbara real estate agent.
Regarding the issue of costs to use a real estate agent, the buyer does not have to worry about paying any commissions to their real estate agent in California.
These commissions are paid for by the seller.
A good buyer's agent should sit down with you and specifically talk about what services they can provide to you and how they work.
Next, the real estate agent should find out all your needs, your ability to purchase a home and how you would like to go about searching for a home.
If it feels like a good fit, then you are off an running.
At this point, most all of the work is put into the hands of the buyer's agent where they can then start to earn their commission.
The buyer's next step is to..
2 - Get Pre-qualified or Better yet, Pre-approved.
Any seasoned Santa Barbara real estate agent will ask their client if they are pre-qualified or pre-approved with a lender as one of their first questions.
If you are, then this is a great sign to the agent.
If not, then this is your immediate next step.
There is no real point in starting the search for homes unless you and your real estate agent know a price point to start with.
It is embarrassing and a waste of time for both the buyer and the real estate agent to begin a search for homes in the $1 Million to $1.
4 Million range for example and to then find out weeks later that you are only pre-approved up to a purchase price of $875,000.
The flip side of this is that you might be presently surprised with your financial situation and can potentially afford more than you thought.
Most good real estate agents will not go beyond a few days work without knowing that you are pre-qualified or pre-approved with a lender.
As far as finding a lender, ask your real estate agent for referrals or get recommendations from friends, family and co-workers you know of whom have purchased a home themselves.