The CA Residential Purchase Agreement is the the only document that a lender will accept as the basics for granting a home loan. Home buyers, specially first time home buyers, are reluctant to sign such document on the spot, after all, with the required Buyers Inspection Advisory and the Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Relationships, those are 14 pages of gibberish mambo jumbo stuff that is not easy to understand when read for the first time.
At the height of the market, we lost a great home because the first time buyer took 2 days to read the contract and another 3 hours for me to clarify the questions he had when he read it. By the time we presented the offer, another buyer's offer had been accepted. I could not blame the buyer for not signing on the spot. For this type of purchase, as a consumer, I probably would have done the same.
That is when I decided to actually write the offer earlier and even before I show the first house to buyer looking to buy a home. Once we tour the houses for the first time, I give the buyer the entire 14 pages of an offer written on the best house we saw. By previewing first, I would know which house to write the contract for. Since I do not show houses unless the buyer is pre-approved, I also know the finances, I write down the exact numbers for a down payment and even calculate an estimated buyer's closing costs.
Having the buyers have the contract on the first tour of houses, with real numbers, and sending them home to read those documents is a huge time saver for both of us. I tell them to assume that we just bought this house, and that these are exactly the documents that we will use when presenting an offer. I ask them to read those pages, and make notes on them to ask me when we see each other again. By reading the contract without any pressure for time, they will be ready when the time comes to sign an offer. I do make a point on subsequent meetings to ask about the contract.
Yes, this might sound like putting the cart in front of the horse. But we accomplish so much, the buyer's confidence on the process is key for the entire transaction to start and finish on time. A well informed and educated consumer is also a very happy Home Buyer. This type of home buyer makes the lender, the seller, their Realtors and the other 30+ people who somehow get involved in a typical real estate transaction very happy too!
Taking the steps in this order takes the fear out of actually purchasing a home, the knowledge, understanding and familiarity might avoid the infamous "Buyers Remorse" for which I also have a prepared medicine. After the offer is accepted, I give the buyers colorful M&M's in a prescription bottle. I tell them to take 2 pills when they feel scared or uneasy about their purchase, if the feeling is too intense to double the dose, that the color of the M&M's does not matter.
But if they feel real bad about what they bought, to call me immediately. If the buyer is not 100% into it, I want them out of the transaction as early as possible. If you are looking to buy a house right now, ask your Realtor for those documents and familiarize yourself with them.