Buyer’s Guide

Meet with your Realtor to discuss your wants and needs. This includes things like preferred neighborhoods, house size, property features, school zones, etc. This is also a great opportunity to ask your Realtor questions.

We will set you up with a Collection on, which will help you see new listings as soon as they hit the market. Collections is an exciting technology tool that is proprietary to agents at Compass. It enables all parties to be on the same page at the same time. Our clients love it.

We will also send you relevant o!-market listings, sometimes referred to as “pocket listings,” when they meet your criteria. Our team will schedule property tours for you, and will help you evaluate your options.

Once you find your dream home, we will work with you to prepare your offer and advise you on strategies, time frames, and details of the contract.


You should be prepared to make an “earnest money deposit” (also known as EMD, typically 3% of purchase price) within three days of acceptance. Should you choose not to proceed with the transaction due to inspection or loan issues, and cancel the transaction within an agreed-upon period, this deposit is returned to you.


We will draft your o!er for you using the standard California Purchase Agreement. After reviewing it with you, we will send it to you for electronic signature. We will present the signed Purchase Agreement to the seller along with the following items:

  • Pre-approval letter from your lender
  • Proof of funds, including a copy of your bank statement with account numbers redacted
  • A personal letter from you to the seller. Use this to introduce yourself and tell the seller what you love about their house and why you want to buy it. It doesn’t hurt to include a photo of yourself and your family as well.


Contingencies are clauses in the contract that describe conditions that must be met and agreed upon by both the buyer and seller before the contract is binding. Most offers contain three contingencies:

Inspection, Loan, and Appraisal.

  • The Inspection Contingency gives you the right to have the home inspected within a specific time period. Based on the findings of the professional home inspectors, you can negotiate repairs (or credits for repairs), or cancel the contract.
  • The Loan Contingency states that you, the buyer, are not bound to the contract if you fail to obtain approval for financing by a certain date.
  • The Appraisal Contingency is the bank’s opportunity to make sure that the home you are purchasing is worth what they have committed to lending you.


When submitting your o!er, you should be prepared to negotiate terms including price, deposit, contingency deadlines, and other key factors. Will guide you in this process. The seller can respond in a variety of ways.

Here’s a look at typical responses:

Acceptance: Your offer has been accepted. Once signed by the seller, the offer becomes a binding legal contract.

Counter Offer: The seller requests adjustments to your o!er, such as changes to the price, closing date, or conditions. You may accept the counter offer by signing the document, or you may counter back. Note that many properties in Los Angeles are in high demand, in which case, the seller may counter multiple offers at the same time. In this case, the offer is not binding until both the buyer and the seller have signed and agreed.

Rejection: The seller may reject your offer and end the process.

Escrow is a neutral third party whose job is to protect the integrity of your real estate transaction. They ensure all parties are in agreement and all terms have been met before releasing funds and closing the sale.

Once both parties come to an agreement, we will open escrow and you will have a set period of time in which to satisfy the contingencies in your contract.

Inspections: After your o!er is accepted, you will want to hire inspectors to conduct a thorough investigation of the home. The inspectors’ job is to discover any issues or repairs that need to be made before buying the home. We can provide you with a list of recommended inspections, such as plumbing, electrical, foundation, termite, chimney, pool, geological, and a general inspection. We can also provide you with a list of trusted vendors and schedule those appointments for you. Generally, inspectors charge between $200 – $1500 depending on their specialty.

Once the house has been fully inspected and all issues have been addressed, you will have an opportunity to request repairs or a credit from the seller. Note that this is another stage of negotiation and is not a guarantee. Once all parties reach an agreement with regards to inspections and repairs, you will remove your inspection contingency.

Home Insurance: Lenders require your new home to be insured before you can close escrow. Use the due diligence window to investigate your insurance options and select a provider. We can recommend someone if need be.

Your Lender’s Job: While your lender works on funding the loan, your bank will send an appraiser to the property to provide a professional estimate of the home’s value. Appraisals typically cost $500 – $700. Once the conditions for the loan and appraisal have been met, you will remove these contingencies as well.

NOTE: Once you have removed all contingencies, your deposit money will be at risk should you decide to cancel. This is often seen as the “no-turning-back” point of the process. We will make sure to inform you when you reach this juncture. Also, we highly dissuade you from purchasing any new items for your new home until your escrow has closed and you are o”cially the owner. Such purchases include cabinetry, flooring, furniture, new cars, etc.

Within the last few days of your escrow, you will go to the escrow o”ce to sign your loan documents. Be sure to bring your ID with you because some of the documents will need to be notarized. These documents go to the lender for final review. 1-3 days before you are scheduled to close escrow, the bank will send the funds to cover your loan amount. The balance of your down payment will also be due at that time. Escrow will provide wiring instructions. On closing day, legal property ownership is transferred to your name. Congratulations—you are now a homeowner!

Timeline Of A Typical 30-Day Escrow



Closing costs are additional fees paid on your behalf by escrow at the close of the real estate transaction. The buyer’s closing costs usually total 1%–3% of the final sale price, including the following:

Escrow fees: Paid to the escrow firm for their services. These can include things like messengers, notary fees, document prep fees, recording fees, etc. The escrow company can provide you with a closing statement in advance so that you can review it ahead of time.

Lender fees: This can include everything from underwriting to loan discount points, which can be purchased to lower your interest rate. These fees are paid through escrow. We don’t want you to have any surprises, so we recommend that you discuss this with your lender in your initial conversation.

Homeowner’s Insurance: Required by most lenders; you will typically pay your premium for one year.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Typically required if your down payment is less than 20%.

Title insurance: A one-time fee, required to protect you in case the seller doesn’t have the full deed to the property.

Property taxes: You will typically pay six months of county property taxes upfront at closing. Paid through escrow.

Recording fees: Paid to the city or county to record your deed in public records.

Home appraisal fees: Only paid at closing if not paid for in advance.

What Is Escrow?

Escrow is a neutral third-party whose job is to protect the integrity of your real estate transaction. They ensure all parties are in agreement and all terms have been met before releasing funds and closing the sale.

Why Do I Need An Escrow?

Whether you are the buyer, seller, lender, or borrower, you want assurance that no funds or property will change hands until ALL of the instructions in the transaction have been followed. The escrow holder has the obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the possession of the escrow holder, and to disburse funds and/or convey title only when all provisions of the escrow have been complied with. The escrow o”cer is a neutral third party and does not represent any one party.

Timeline Of A Typical 30-Day Escrow
  • The offer is accepted and escrow is opened
  • The buyer deposits 3% of the purchase price into escrow within 3 days of acceptance
  • Escrow instructions—which recap the price and terms of the offer—are prepared and signed
  • Buyer reviews state-mandated disclosures from seller, including any known defects in the home, environmental hazards, or any other issues that may be of material interest to a prospective buyer
  • Inspections are ordered and conducted
  • The inspection contingency is removed, indicating that you are pleased with the investigation and wish to proceed with the purchase. At this time, we may also have the hate option of requesting that the seller correct any major deficiencies or credit you for their cost, although the seller is not obligated to do so.
  • After confirming with the lender that there are no unforeseen circumstances with your loan, and that your home appraised at the price in your offer, you will remove your loan and appraisal contingencies. This is the last contingency in your offer and is considered the “no turning back” point of the process.
  • Your lender will finalize the details of your loan and work closely with  the escrow company to coordinate paperwork.
  • At this time, you will need to provide evidence of Homeowner’s  Insurance and prepare to wire the balance of your down payment plus closing costs
  • Five days before closing, we will conduct a final walk-through of the home to ensure it is in the same condition and that nay repairs requested have been completed.
  • The escrow company receives your final funds, as well as the funds from your lender, and works with the title company to record the home in your name.

Buyers Typically Pay For:

  • Inspection fees (roofing, general, sewer, pool, geological, etc.)
  • Appraisal
  • Escrow fees
  • Loan fees and/or points
  • Interest on a new loan from date of funding to 30 days prior to first payment date
  • Lender’s title policy
  • Home insurance premium for first year

Sellers Typically Pay For:

  • Real estate commission
  • Escrow fees
  • County documentary transfer tax (55 cents per $500 of consideration)
  • Applicable city transfer/conveyance tax
  • Home insurance premium for the first year
  • City mandated retrofitting requirements
  • Any bonds or assessments
  • Document preparation fee or deed contract
  • Any loan fees required by the buyer’s lender
  • The payoff of all loans in seller’s name
  • Statement fees, reconveyance fees, and any prepayment penalties
  • The payoff of all loans in seller’s name
  • Home warranty
  • Any judgments, tax liens, or unpaid homeowners dues against the seller
  • Owner’s title policy