First-Time Home Buyers Seminars Presentation

Hello, my name is Monica Mancano and I am a full- time REALTOR®, SRES®, MRP, AHWD with Century 21 Affiliated (#1 Century 21® Firm in the World) my greatest satisfaction comes from helping my clients achieve their goal!

My goal is to exceed your expectations, give you a peace of mind, keep you smiling, and make sure that you enjoy the journey!

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Whether you're a first-time home buyer, seeking to sell, upgrade,

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Monica Mancano, REALTOR®, SRES®, MRP, AHWD

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Let me help you find your DREAM HOUSE!

Purchasing a home is a major milestone that tops many people's lifetime To-Do-Lists.  It also maybe on their list of financial fears too.  But it certainly doesn't have to be a scary or a stressful experience. With time, care, and research and the right Real Estate Team behind you, you can take control of the Home-Buying Process!

There are going to be many factors and decisions for you to make.  That's why, when buying, it's crucial for you to have all the available resources necessary to make a well-informed decision, together with the time required to make complete use of them.

That's also why you should enlist the help of a trusted REALTOR®. 

Many REALTORS® are Buyer Specialists who focus on helping people successfully find and buy the homes they've always wanted.   A REALTOR® will be able to provide you with expert consultation at each step of the buying process.

Finding and purchasing a home includes many steps,

which I will be going over with you.

First you need to

Define your Goals

Buying a home is a big step, it's important for you to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible in advance. 

The first step is to clearly determine why you're buying and what kind of home you're looking for.  It also means checking your current financial situation and not taking on a larger mortgage commitment than you can afford. 

This is why its so important to seek help from a financial professional, who can help walk you through an appropriate breakdown, based on your individual situation. 

Your Mortgage Banker will be able to help you figure out which mortgage is right for you and start getting you Pre-Approved.  The process in which a lender reviews your financial information, like your credit report, W2s and bank statements and commits to giving you a mortgage for a specified interest rate.

It's a good idea to consider doing this now! 

Currently, it is a Seller's Market and houses are going quickly, sometimes even in multiple offer situations.  You wouldn't want to loose the opportunity of getting your Dream House.  Having the Pre-Approval Letter attached to your offer makes it more attractive to the Seller.  It helps prove to a Seller that you're a Qualified Buyer, and once an offer is made and accepted, the bank will just have to appraise the home, not the property and your finances!

Next you will want to

Contact A REALTOR®

 if you haven't already.

While you're not under any obligation to do so, there are many potential benefits in working with one. 

First of all, a REALTOR® can provide more home access options than you'll find yourself, as well as set up viewing appointments.  One of the many benefits of using their services is that they hear about listings right when they come on the market.  In fact, sometimes even before they're on the market!

And that's just the first step. 

When they work for you they will:

  • Educate you about Buyer Agency, outlining their professional responsibilities to you, including complete Disclosure, Loyalty, Confidentiality, Obedience and Accountability.
  • Help you explore your financing options and, if required, refer you to some excellent mortgage professionals so you can make the best possible mortgage decision.
  • Save you time by regularly searching the market for affordable homes that meet your criteria.
  • Email you homes that just came on the market that meet your specific home requirements.  
  • View homes with you and provide Comparative Analysis. 
  • They can also refer you to expert Attorneys, Home Inspectors, Insurance Agents and other Real Estate Professionals that will provide more in-depth analysis and advice.
  • Provide consultation in relation to your written offer to purchase a home, will all terms approved by you.
  • Negotiate the best possible price and terms for you and take care of all the documentation details.
  • Keep you fully informed about all activities that lead to the transaction closing.
  • Assist you, if necessary, in finding any home-related services you need.

In short, they'll provide you with

comprehensive, high-quality Buyer's service!

Buying Real Estate is a complex matter, given that there are so many factors to consider and that no two homes or transactions are alike.   Home-Buying can be an emotional process, a REALTOR® can guide you through the property search, give you sales comps,  negotiation and transaction processes and can act as a mediator between You and the Seller.

To find someone, interview several REALTORS® until you find someone that is experienced, knows the local market, understands your needs and makes you feel comfortable.

As a final step, check your state's Real Estate Licensing Board's Website to ensure they're registered and don't have any complaints or suspensions logged against them.

For Illinois, click on this link:


Are you ready to be a homeowner?

There is a lot to think about as you prepare to buy your first home.

Such as:

  • Deciding What You Want
  • Comparison Shopping
  • How Will I Find The "RIGHT" House?
  • How Can I Negotiate The Purchase?
  • Deciding How Much To Offer?
  • How Can I Summit The Offer?
  • What Is Earnest Money?
  • Who Will Negotiate The Final Purchase Price

This is why choosing the right agent does make a difference!

Deciding What You Want

It's the rare lucky person who finds the perfect home within their budget. 

The key to the home search process is knowing what you're looking for and distinguishing between "MUST-HAVES" and "LIKES-TO-HAVES".

Before you go house hunting, brainstorm a list of what you absolutely must find in a home and decide which features are simply nice extras.

What style of house do you want?  Ranch, two-story, condominium, townhouse or duplex?  What size do you want?  How many bedrooms and baths do you need?  Do you want a fireplace?  Do you want a basement, garage?  Do you want a yard or would you prefer minimal yard work? Do you want a fenced backyard?  Do you want a short drive to work or be close to family?  

Once your list is made, go back over it and decide what is more important to your lifestyle.  It may be privacy, creativity or recreation.  Decide which items are musts and which you are willing to give up.  Assign each item a priority so that you will know what to look for as you begin your house hunting journey.

Examples of must-haves might include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, proximity to work and other places you frequent, and access to your preferred school districts. You might also have a strong preference on the amount of outdoor space a house offers and whether it's move-in ready.

Things that shouldn't be on your must-have list?

The way a house is decorated, well-manicured landscaping, a pool  or anything else you can easily fix or install yourself.


Deciding where you want to live may be the single most important factor in choosing a home.  Location affects your day-to-day living.  Location to employment centers, shopping centers, schools, major traffic highways or toll ways and other attractions are important.  Evaluate location carefully.  Location of a property is one of the most significant influences on value.

Your choice of location may be limited somewhat by the price you can afford.

Also make sure you consider such things as:

  • prices of properties
  • property taxes
  • distance to work, schools, shopping and entertainment
  • and potential hazards such as flooding and noise from a nearby airport or highways.

Type of home and lot

A single-family detached home is attractive to a lot of people because it typically provides more living space and land area than other types of living units (condominiums, townhouses and duplexes).  Typically the detached structure permits you greater freedom (less restrictions) on remodeling, expanding, painting and altering the appearances of the structure.

If you don't like spending leisure time on yard work, consider attached homes (condominiums, townhouses or duplexes).  These homes are set on small lots and share common garden areas. They sometimes share membership in private recreational facilities such as fitness health centers, swimming, golf and tennis.

New vs. older homes

In selecting the type of home you want, consider new versus preowned homes. 

Preowned homes usually have established yards and usually the neighborhood or subdivision is built-out.  On the other hand, older homes may require more maintenance and need some repairs.

New homes are not without problems.  Although they require less maintenance in the first few years, you may have to put in landscaping and call the builder back to correct faults.  If buildings are still active in the area, you may have to endure nearby construction.

Finally, consider size and style.  You may already have in mind a wood-and-glass contemporary lodge with sun decks or a two-story Victorian mansion with a cozy attic. Or you won't know what you like until you see it!

Either way, your REALTOR® will listen to your preferences and help you find the right home for you!

Refer to this list if you need help down the line making an objective decision between two or more houses, as well as to remind you, of what's really important, versus what could be luring you to pay more than necessary.

Use this guide to help you define your home preference priorities.

Home Search Worksheet


Main Requirements

Price Range:   _____________________________      Lot size:  _________________________________

Area:  ____________________________________      Square footage:  ___________________________

Detached/Attached:  ________________________      Number of bedrooms:  _______________________

House style(s):  ____________________________      Number of bathrooms:  ______________________

Age of property:  ____________________________     Garage:  __________________________________

Specific Features

(e.g., view, large lot, pool, fireplace, basement, garage size, distance to school, additional room preferences, etc.)







Additional Comments






Comparison Shopping

A REALTOR® can help you shop for a home, compare homes and compile your unique wish list to find the PERFECT HOME FOR YOU!

That said, here are a few recent facts (National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers) about the search process that might put your experience in perspective:

  • Almost 90% of Buyers use the Internet to search for homes
  • The typical Buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes
  • 81% of Buyers view REALTORS® as very useful in the search process

There are many benefits to starting the search process at a Real Estate Website .  You can view many homes and their details, take video tours and access neighborhood information.

Educating yourself on your local market and working with an experienced REALTOR® can help you narrow your priorities and make an informed decision about which home to choose.

However, it's also important to view homes in person. While their property details may seem similar online, homes can actually be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship ad other aspects. 

In addition, you should ideally view homes with the help of an experienced and eagle-eyed REALTOR® who will notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis and act as an impartial sounding board.

How Will I Find The "RIGHT" House?


Now that you've found "THE ONE",

it's time to make an offer!

Deciding How Much To Offer

How do you know if a particular home is reasonably priced?

Ask your REALTOR® to create a list of comparable sales (or comps) for any house you are seriously considering.  That way, you can see what similar properties have SOLD for in the same neighborhood.

How Can I Negotiate The Purchase

A purchase offer is a written contract which you sign and submit to the seller. It is accompanied by a certain amount of “earnest money” (a small good faith deposit to show you are serious about buying the home). The written purchase offer indicates the amount you are willing to give the seller for his or her property. If you are working with an experienced real estate agent, he or she will typically provide a standard purchase offer form which you can complete, sign and then hand over to the seller to sign.

Your local Real Estate Association, working with Legal Counsel has developed the contracts that are used for transactions in your area.  These contracts enable you to specify a Sale Price and also include many clauses for specifying various terms of purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, your deposit amount (Earnest Money) and other conditions.

You should carefully review these clauses with your REALTOR® to ensure that they express your desired offer.  In addition to drawing up the Contract, your REALTOR® will be happy to address all your questions and the offer process.

Deciding How Much To Offer

How do you know if a particular home is reasonably priced?

While no one can know for sure what will happen to housing values, if you choose to buy a home that meets your needs and priorities and that you will be be happy living in for years to come.

By the time you’re ready to make an offer, you should have done your homework. You should know what homes in your area are worth. And you should know how much home you can afford.

Be realistic with your offer, and don’t lowball! This shows you are serious.

Nothing is accomplished by going in with a low-ball offer (except sometimes, in the cases of foreclosures or when a home is significantly overpriced and has been on the market a long time). If you go in too low, you’re going to insult the Seller. Sellers love their homes, and offering a lot less than what a property is worth won’t win you any points. If your research shows that the property is fairly priced, offer just slightly less than the listing price. If your offer does not elicit a meaningful counter-offer from the seller, your offer failed. How do you negotiate with someone who won’t respond? You can’t. You have to get them to believe that you are a serious buyer who will actually complete the transaction. To do this, you have to first get them to believe that you’re capable of arriving at a price that is agreeable to them. That starts the negotiation process.

Ask your REALTOR® to create a list of comparable sales (or comps) for any house you are seriously considering.  That way, you can see what similar properties have SOLD for in the same neighborhood.

How Can I Summit The Offer?

But before you sign on the dotted line, you should make sure to review the contract thoroughly and understand every single clause.

Pay special attention to contingencies in the contract, which spell out situations when you can back out of the sale to help protect yourself in case something goes wrong. For instance, such scenarios can include if you discover that the home has serious physical defects or if your bank rescinds financing.

Since your written offer forms the basis of a legal contract with the Seller, be thorough. There are some important details you should be sure to talk through with your REALTOR® and make sure are accurately included on your purchase offer, such as:

  • The amount you are offering for the home and how you will pay the seller (cash, FHA/VA/Conventional Financing, etc.)
  • Concessions, such as any closing costs or other costs which you would like the Seller to pay
  • The amount of earnest money you are offering
  • The size of your down payment (This will be in your Pre-Approval Letter)
  • The “Earnest Money” deposit.  Your earnest money is typically put towards your closing costs; however, if you enter into a contract with the Seller and then breach that contract, you could stand to lose this money.

Once you have written the Offer, your REALTOR® will present it to the Seller's Agent.  At that point, the process, given that a home's eventual sale price is subject to Supply and Demand, will depend on the kin of market you're in.  Currently, we are in a Seller's Market. 

After the Seller receives your offer, Seller can Accept Your Offer, Reject It, or Counter it to initiate the negotiation process.  

Successive Counter Offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, will be exchanged between you and the Seller by their REALTORS® until a mutually satisfactory pending agreement is reached or the negotiations negotiations breakdown.

Negotiations can involve many factors relating to different market conditions, homes and Sellers.

Negotiating the transaction is usually the most complex aspect of buying a home.

At the same time, it is the one that can involve the most creativity.  That's why it's important to have an experienced and savvy REALTOR® who has successfully worked through many different transaction scenarios.

That said, what follows are a few strategies for negotiating a good deal in a Seller's Market like this one, all of which involve:

  • Presenting yourself as a serious Buyer
  • Keeping your emotions in check
  • Trying to understand respect the priorities of the Seller
  • Being creative and
  • Where necessary, willing to compromise to get the deal done

If you can’t put together a deal on the first property you like, don’t worry. There will be many more homes for sale. It is VERY common to end up finding a home a week later that you like even more than the first. Not taking that first home might be a blessing in disguise.

What Is Earnest Money

The earnest money deposit is an important part of the Home Buying Process.  It tells the Seller you're a committed buyer and it helps fund your down payment.

Without earnest money, you could make offers on many homes, essentially taking them off the market until you decided which one you liked best. Sellers rarely accept offers without deposits.

Assuming that all goes well and your offer is accepted by the Seller, the Earnest Money will go toward the down payment and closing costs.  In many circumstances, you can get most of your deposit back if you discover something that you don't like about the home.

How Much Should You Put Down in the Earnest Money Deposit?

The amount you'll pay for the earnest money deposit will depend on a few factors, such as policies and limitations in your state, the current real estate market, and what the Seller requires. On average, you can expect to hand over 1-2% of the total purchase price as Earnest Money. 

In some real estate markets you may end up putting down more or less than the average amount. In a real estate market where homes aren't selling quickly, the Seller may only require 1% or less for the earnest money deposit. In markets where demand is high, the seller may ask for a higher deposit, perhaps as much as 2-3%. You can sometimes win a bid if you give the seller a large deposit. In fact, the Seller may be willing to come down in price a little if you make a bigger deposit.

However, you may wind up having to do some paperwork for your mortgage lender, and the bank may want to verify the source of the funds for larger deposits. It won't be a problem if you can show that you've had the money for at least 60 days.

When Do You Pay the Earnest Money, and Who Holds It?

In most cases, after your offer is accepted and you sign the purchase agreement, you give your Earnest Money deposit to the Seller's Real Estate Brokerage or Attorney and in some instances the Buyer's Real Estate Brokerage or Attorney may hold the Earnest Money.

Always check the credentials of the firm or broker taking the deposit and verify that the funds will be held in escrow. Never give the Earnest Money to the Seller; it could be difficult or impossible to get it back if something goes wrong.

After turning over the deposit, the funds are held in an escrow account until the home sale is in the final stages. Once everything is ready, the funds are released from escrow and applied to your down payment.

Can You Get Your Earnest Money Back?

If the deal falls through, whoever holds the deposit determines whether you should get the money back under the terms of the purchase agreement.  Make sure that the purchase agreement covers how a refund is handled.

To be on the safe side, make sure the purchase agreement covers how a refund would be handled. Keep in mind that even if you are pre-approved for a mortgage loan, you can be declined when you apply for one. In such cases, standard contracts allow you to recover your earnest money deposit. You can also usually get your money back if you find problems with the property.  Your attorney will take care of this.

Who Will Negotiate the Final Purchase Price?

The seller accepted your offer—CONGRATS!  Your offer now becomes a contract and you are on your way to owning the home.

But before you sign on the dotted line, you should make sure to review the contract thoroughly and understand every single clause.

Pay special attention to contingencies in the contract, which spell out situations when you can back out of the sale to help protect yourself in case something goes wrong. For instance, such scenarios can include if you discover that the home has serious physical defects or if your bank rescinds financing.

Speaking of defects, now is also the time when you'll get the home inspected.

If there are issues, such as a non-functioning fireplace or an old boiler, you may be able to ask for a price reduction to help cover the cost of repairs. And if you find any deal breakers, such as an unstable foundation or serious mold, you have the option of backing out now!

Once your Inspector confirms that there are no big defects that could affect the home's value, you'll submit a mortgage application. Review all closing costs—the ones you've hopefully saved up 3% to pay for, which might include an attorney's fee, title insurance and partial property taxes—before you sign the contract.

While it’s not uncommon for prospective Buyers to believe the deal is sealed at the signing, in many cases the negotiations begin afterward.

If you’ve conducted a home inspection, you can ask the Sellers for a cash-back credit at the close of escrow, which can help you complete the project yourself. You can also ask the Seller for a credit to fix certain issues in the interest of offsetting closing costs.  Your attorney will address any issues you have with the Seller's attorney.

Be sure to look at ease when walking the property at the inspection — the last thing you want is to mention a gut renovation you’d like only to have the Sellers refuse to make needed repairs.

And if you haven't already, now is the time to check into getting House Insurance.  Real estate insurance protects owners in the event of catastrophe.  If something goes wrong, insurance can be the bargain of a lifetime.

Closing Day

On closing day, do your final walk through one hour before closing (you want to make sure the property is in the same condition as when you placed your offer), bring your photo I.D., as well as any paperwork you received throughout the home-buying process, including insurance and home inspection certificates.

What’s next?

You’ve done it!

You’ve looked at properties,

made an offer which was accepted,

obtained financing,

and gone to closing

and after all the paperwork is signed,

you'll be handed the keys

and you have just become a homeowner! 


The Home is yours!!!

Now you can do the Happy Dance!

Buyers Love Closings

So when you decide to buy a home,
or if you hear that any of your family and friends are looking to buy,
contact a REALTOR® and be sure to take
advantage of their knowledge, experience and professionalism.

Monica Mancano

Monica Mancano

Contact Me
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Dedicated To Your Home

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  • Equal Housing Opportunity
  • Realtor
  • Certified Military Residential Specialist
  • At Home With Diversity
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist

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