The Buying Process

Learn the steps involved in buying your dream home.

Initial Meeting

Let’s get together to see if we are a good fit! When we meet, you’ll have as much time as you need to ask me any questions and I’ll get a good understanding of what you are looking for. We will even write a mock offer. During our initial consultation we will also:

✓ Address questions and concerns regarding the market, neighborhoods, school districts, or commute.
✓ Get a good understanding of your wants and needs.
✓ Discuss financing options and refer you to the appropriate lender if necessary.
✓ Review the purchase contract and write a mock offer, so you have a complete understanding of the offer process before you find your next home.

The first step when buying a home is to get pre-approved for a loan and receive a pre-approval letter from a lender unless you’re writing an all-cash offer. Due to the competitive market, it is important to include the pre-approval letter with your offer package as it shows the seller you are prepared and gives you an advantage over buyers without one.

Questions to ask your lender:

✓ What is the cost/credit of the loan?
✓ What is the lock term?
✓ What is the cost of the appraisal? (+/- $500)
✓ What are the estimated closing costs? (Est. $10,000)
✓ How do HOA payments impact my qualifying limit?
✓ What is my monthly payment including principal, interest, tax, and insurance? (PITI)

Once you’re pre-approved on a loan, it’s time to start searching for your home! The majority of properties are listed on the MLS (multiple listing service) by Realtors®. To start searching for a property currently on the market, click here, and please provide any feedback here.

I will also begin networking and prospecting to find off-market and coming soon listings that might work for you as well! Some of the things I will do to help you find an off-market home include mailing a personalized letter with a wet signature in a hand-addressed envelope to your desired neighborhood as well as sending a personalized email to each real estate agent who has sold a home recently in your desired neighborhood. Using these methods I have helped many buyers buy homes before they even came on the market!


Once you have identified a property that you are interested in making an offer on, I will obtain the available reports and disclosures provided by the seller for you to review. When you make an offer, it is with the understanding that items disclosed will not be re-negotiated. However, if any new issues are discovered during the physical contingency period, they can and will be negotiated.

Regardless of how the disclosures are provided to me, I will make sure they are delivered in an easy-to-use format with, which allows you to search for key terms and keeps all the information organized for you.

Offer Package

When you are writing an offer in a competitive market, it is important that you show that you are serious and prepared to buy.

Your offer package should include:

✓ A pre-approval letter from your lender
✓ Acknowledgment of disclosures and reports (If provided)
✓ Proof of downpayment and closings funds
✓ Residential purchase agreement (RPA)

If the seller has assigned a due date for offers, I will submit them on time and in-person, if possible, to give you the best chance of having your offer accepted.

Time Periods & Terms

Here are the typical time periods in a purchase agreement:

✓ Initial Deposit (3% of purchase price suggested): 
✓ Proof of funds (if not provided at time of offer): 
✓ Physical Contingency: 10 Days
✓ Appraisal Contingency: 17 Days
✓ Loan Contingency: 21 Days
✓ Length of Transaction/Escrow: 30 Days

Terms of the purchase agreement include:

✓ Price
✓ Length of Transaction
✓ Deposit Amount
✓ Loan Amount
✓ Time Periods
✓ Terms (Rent back, etc.)
✓ Escrow and Title Fees (50/50 | Buyer/Seller)

Counteroffers & Acceptance

A counteroffer is the seller’s response accepting the terms of the offer but with additional terms. You can either accept the seller’s counteroffer or respond with a buyer counteroffer. Once you have come to a mutual agreement with the seller, we will secure a fully-ratified contract and send it to the title company, lender, and other parties. This means you are officially in escrow and the countdown to closing begins.

Physical Contingency & Inspections 

The physical contingency inspection is one of the most important items to consider through the selling process. During this contingency period, you can have various inspections done, to ensure that the property is in overall good condition. If any issues are discovered, they can and will be negotiated. The cost of property inspections varies based on the square footage of the home.

✓ Termite/Wood Destroying Pest (+/- $250)
✓ Home Inspection ( +/- $500)
✓ Roof Inspection (+/-$300)
✓ Lateral Sewer Line Inspection (+/- $450)

Loan & Appraisal Contingency

The loan and appraisal contingency periods start at the time of acceptance (if applicable). The lender will submit the loan package and contract to the underwriter and they will also order the appraisal. The purpose of the appraisal is to ensure the property is worth the negotiated price. The cost of the appraisal is the buyer’s responsibility and ranges between $500-800.


Prior to the transaction closing, the lender will require that you have obtained homeowner’s insurance. Upon going into escrow my team will request an insurance quote from Mike Baxter with Farmers Insurance. Once received my team will provide you with the estimate. Learn more about Mike here.

Removing Contingencies

Upon successful completion of all inspection and the loan and appraisal process, contingencies will be removed. Once all contingencies are removed, you cannot breach the contract without risking your good faith deposit as liquidated damages. If you are currently a tenant, this is when you give your landlord notice.

Walk-Through & Sign-Off

Once all of your contingencies have been removed and your loan has been approved, the next step is to do a final walk-through at the property to verify its condition prior to closing.

After that, I will arrange for you to sign your final loan and title documents at the title company. You will also need to deposit the remainder of your down payment. You can bring your funds via cashier’s check to the title company or do a wire transfer.

Funding & Recording

Once the final loan conditions are met, the loan will “fund.” The following day (sometimes the same day) your name is recorded at the County Recorder Office and escrow is closed!

Congratulations, you did it!

Keys & Move-In

Escrow is closed and you are now a proud homeowner! I will arrange for the keys to be brought to the property or will drop them off to you. Before you move in, be sure to:

✓ Switch over the utility accounts into your name
✓ Complete any planned improvements or repairs
✓ Consider changing the locks
✓ Explore your new neighborhood
✓ Consider estate planning and putting your new home in a trust

View a list of helpful moving tips here.

Other Things To Expect

Buyer Testimonials

Laina R.


Laina R.

Trustworthy and Honest. How many people use those two words when describing their Real Estate Agent? I stumbled upon Sam while perusing Trulia, looking for a home in Santa Cruz. When I reached out to see if I could view one of his listings, instead of rushing to make an appointment, he took the time to get to know our family’s needs. He really listened. He actually steered me away from his listing and recommended looking at a house off-market. In this environment of such low inventory, it was amazing to find someone who knew the market so well! He is such a wealth of knowledge – he knew what neighborhood would be family-friendly and have the best schools for us. He skillfully guided us through a very long escrow, and we now own this wonderful home. He helped us through each step of the way with a helping hand and a friendly face. He was always honest, patient, gentle, and amazingly informative. We would not have landed our home without his help. I can’t recommend Sam enough. Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Joann S.


Joann S.

Purchasing a home on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz seemed like an impossible project. As quickly as properties were listed, they were sold, usually at well above the asking price. We first met Sam at an open house, and while that listing didn’t work out for us, he offered to spend a rainy winter day driving us to look at every house on the market so he could get a better idea of just what we were looking for. A short time later, he called to say he had located an off-market house he thought we should see. Sam represented us through the complex process of inspections, negotiations, offers, counter-offers and a seemingly endless number of documents. Throughout the entire transaction, he was a calm presence, patient, professional and always available to answer questions. Thanks to Sam we purchased a great house at below the asking price! Since then he has kept in touch and as a Santa Cruz resident, he has been a great source of information and referrals. Sam was thorough and dependable and I recommend him highly. Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Kaitlyn M.


Kaitlyn M.

Sam was great to work with. My boyfriend and I knew where we wanted to buy our home but were having difficulty getting the sales office for the new development to contact us back. We were on a tight timeline to move with a baby on the way and as soon as we hired Sam we had a meeting and viewings within the week. He then helped guide us through the buying process and got us into our dream home with time to spare. Trying to move while pregnant can be stressful but Sam took away that anxiety and thanks to him we have time to settle in before the baby arrives. He was available day and night for questions and advice. This was my first home buying experience and he made it much easier than I expected it to be. Thanks, Sam! Read More
Buyer, East Garrison
Brent P.


Brent P.

Working with Sam was awesome from day 1 for both my fiancé and I. We knew absolutely nothing about real estate or the buying process and the thought of purchasing a home along with moving and planning a wedding was super stressful. Sam made it easy and stress free for us. My fiancé and I had a blast looking at houses with Sam and we eventually found one we could see ourselves sharing our lives in. In a competitive market with multiple bidders he helped us write the winning offer on the house and location we wanted. Sam was super helpful through the whole closing process and continues to check in on us even after the deal closed and we moved in. Highly recommend Sam and his team to anyone looking for real estate in Santa Cruz County. Read More
Buyer, Capitola
Leslye L.


Leslye L.

We could not be more satisfied with Sam Bird Robinson as our real estate agent!! He was kind and calm throughout our out-of-state search for a house in Santa Cruz. He is knowledgeable as well as patient. He never once dropped the reins and he was always there to take our calls. Sam asked all the right questions in order to help us find that perfect fit house for us. His commitment and support were unyielding. His support staff was also terrific -available and clear in communications. We made it through a cross-country search with a 1031 exchange with Sam as our guide and we absolutely and without any reservations recommend him as the best Realtor® in Santa Cruz. We love OUR house! Thank you, Sam. Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Sarah W.


Sarah W.

I’m so glad I had Sam’s help during the purchase of my home in Santa Cruz! Being a first-time buyer in a competitive market was intimidating, but Sam made sure I had all the information I needed to make good decisions, explained everything throughout each step of the process, and always checked in to see if I needed anything. He made me feel confident and comfortable throughout what could have been a stressful experience, and I can’t thank him enough! Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Reto S.


Reto S.

Sam is fast, well prepared and organized. We made an offer within 24 hours of initial contact, and Sam was managing the entire process smoothly and efficiently, answering all questions in a few minutes and coordinating all the things that need to be done. Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Suzanne G.


Suzanne G.

I am incredibly pleased to have worked with Sam on my first home purchase. Any obstacle was quickly communicated and cleared, and within three weeks from the start of our search, I was closing on my first home. Read More
Hannah H.


Hannah H.

I can't say enough good things about Sam after our experience with him as our Realtor® for our first home purchase. We're fortunate to call him a friend as well, and I would say that he strives to make friends with all of his clients so that he can really understand them and what they are looking for. As a young parent himself, he is passionate about helping young families stay in Santa Cruz, and he succeeds. He searched persistently for us for a long time, and he used his connections to find us an off-market home in the exact area we wanted. He also worked very hard to negotiate a fair price for everyone involved. He is very responsive and present as a Realtor®, and he supports you through the emotional roller coaster that is buying a home with patient guidance and humor. I've already recommended him to others, and I will continue to do so. Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Emma K.


Emma K.

Sam helped us navigate the process of buying our first home. He is very knowledgeable and was a pleasure to work with. He took the time to get to know us, which really helped us find the home that was right for us. And when we found it, Sam was ready to spring into action. His instinct helped us put in the offer that was chosen over multiple other offers in the competitive Santa Cruz housing market. We simply couldn’t have purchased our dream home without Sam’s help and he continued to check in with us and let us know that he was there for us even after we signed. Read More
Buyer, Santa Cruz
Jerry & Helen P.


Jerry & Helen P.

Sam was the absolute best Realtor® we could have hoped for. We came to him during the holiday season when there was very little inventory, and yet he managed to find us the perfect home before it was officially on the market. This is what he does on a daily basis: listening to his clients, verifying regularly that everyone is on the same page, and then searching painstakingly for the right property. But that is just where the process begins. He connected us with an excellent loan officer as well as local tradesmen who will help us make the house our own. We are “older” clients, and things have grown far more complex than when we last bought a home, but Sam was always right there with sound advice and guidance. He navigated the complexities of the process with an instructive intelligence that helped us be calm, rational, and patient in what at first seemed an impossibly daunting undertaking. We will be forever grateful. Read More
Buyers, Santa Cruz

Always Here For You

Being your trusted advisor is a privilege. That's why I do business in person from start to finish. 1108 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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