I do not work in the Santa Rosa area (Iâ€™m in the San Francisco Bay Area); however, I can help you identify a professional Agent/RealtorÂ® to work with as this is key to having a successful and pleasurable purchase transaction.
You may have already found an Agent to work with; in any case, here's my "Top 4" bits of advice as you move forward with your move:
1) Find a professional RealtorÂ® to work with to protect you interests.
Simply put, your RealtorÂ® will be able to answer initial key questions and guide you through the process. One of the key advantages of involving your RealtorÂ® is access to seasoned Mortgage Broker/Bankers with a track record of getting the job done. You can check to make sure an Agent is a RealtorÂ® by going here: http://www.realtor.org/rofindrealtor.nsf/pages/FS_FREALTOR?OpenDocument
2) Obtain a "True Pre-Approval" (your most important step in my opinion).
You MAY need to improve your credit score, increase cash reserves, etc. before buying; however, at least you will have a roadmap to eventually purchasing if this is the case. Furthermore, this step can save you from wasting money on a purchase that does not close escrow!
3) Make sure you obtain access to your local AND regional RealtorÂ® MLS data via an automated search your RealtorÂ® should most certainly create for you; here's why:
MLS Data Accuracy â€“ Where to search if youâ€™re â€œwithout RealtorÂ®â€
4) Avoid Dual Agency!
There are specific duties an Agent must provide. When one individual represents both Buyer and Seller conflict between two of the most important duties occur.
Much success in your move!
Best Regards, Steve