Buyer's Guide


Why Work With Us?

Top 1%
Nationwide and Norcal

Years of experience

Properties listed and sold

Sale vs list price

In successful real estate closing

Sometimes, when you add two things together, you get something far greater than the sum of its parts. Such is the case with the partnership of Uwe Maercz andSonali Sethna. Uwe and Sonali have consistently been rated as top producers, not only locally but nationwide, reflecting their exceptional expertise and familiarity with the Pleasanton & Tri-Valley real estate markets and their ability to translate that knowledge into concrete results. What truly sets them apart is their unparalleled passion for what they do and the incomparable richness of character they bring to the table.

Uwe and Sonali have closed over $800M+ million dollars in residential and commercial real estate in the Tri-Valley, ranking in the top 1% nationwide. They are one of the top teams in the area, have won NorCal awards, have over 47 years, sold over 350 transactions in the prestigous and gated Ruby Hill golf course community, and are proud to say that a majority of their business originates from referrals and repeat clients - the biggest compliment a real estate broker can receive.

Distinct Ways We Support our Buyers

  • Determining how much the homebuyer can afford
  • Paperwork
  • Determining what comparable homes are selling for
  • Price negotiations
  • Finding and arranging financing
  • Negotiating the terms of sale
  • Teaching more about the neighborhood or area (restaurants, schools, parks, public transportation)
  • Finding renters for the buyer’s property
  • Finding the right home to purchase

Get to Know Your Team

Uwe Maercz

Trusted Senior Executive

Uwe is a full-service real estate broker serving the Tri-Valley area since 2003. He has lived in four different countries and speaks five different languages, making him an invaluable asset to this diverse community. His business accolades include an extensive accounting and management consulting background, which put him in a position to serve his clients from a holistic point of view. His in-depth knowledge of the Silicon Valley industry, as well as his international network, allow him to help his clients in the complex world of real estate–buying and selling resale properties to developing vacant lots and vineyard estates into custom homes and assessing commercial real estate.

Sonali Sethna


A consistent Top Producer in Pleasanton since 1999, Sonali has over 30 years of experience serving clients in both resale and new home sales. Although she has been recognized nationally for her sales achievements and dedication to the industry, she judges her success through the satisfaction of her clients. With 95% of her business originating from referrals and repeat business, Sonali has closed over hundreds of millions of dollars in residential real estate in the Tri-Valley and ranks in the top 1% of the nation’s realtors.

Having lived in the area since 1995, her vast knowledge about schools, shopping, hospitals, transportation, community activities, interior design, and remodeling is a tremendous resource to her clients. Her extensive experience with diverse and dynamic market conditions gives her an expert’s perspective on property values, which, coupled with her powerful negotiating skills, make her a tour de force.

Compass Search and Collections 

At Compass, we strive to help everyone find their place in the world. From providing a sophisticated search experience to offering you a sneak peek at homes not yet on the market, every one of our tools is designed to help us deliver your dream home. 



Compass Search lets you filter and sort by a wide range of features and amenities. Plus, discover exclusive Compass listings you won’t find anywhere else and receive real-time notifications of new homes with customized saved searches!



Collections allows us to monitor the local landscape in a centralized visual space. Together, we can keep a close eye on homes that fit your search criteria by tracking the competition in order to make strategic decisions based on price and status updates.

Buying Process

Find an Agent

Set up a time to sit down with your agent to discuss the neighborhoods you’re considering and can help guide your search. 

Get Pre-approved

Before beginning your search, your first step is to get preapproved for a mortgage loan (unless you will be paying the full price in cash). Based on your income and credit history, the mortgage broker will determine how much a bank will lend you, which will help determine the price range for your search.

Visit Properties

Now is the time to consider your ideal home’s location and amenities. You will attend viewings and open houses spanning a range of areas and property types. Additionally, your agent will activate notifications for exclusive Coming Soon and Off-Market properties as they hit the market.

Packaging & Submitting Offers

Once you identify a home you like, you can put in an offer, which is an agreement to pay a certain price for the home. This offer is packaged with a Proof of Funds (POF) and Pre-Approval Letter.

Note: if your offer is lower than the list price or with terms not acceptable to the seller, the seller will likely return with a counter-offer price or acceptable terms, which you can accept, reject, or make another counter offer. Your agent will provide advice throughout. 

Escrow Process

Day 1 Once an offer is accepted, escrow is officially open and the clock begins on contingencies.*

Day 2 Contact insurance agent for homeowners coverage.

Day 3 Initial deposit is due.

Day 1-7 Seller delivers disclosures to buyer. Buyer performs inspections. Loan is in underwriting and appraisal occurs.

Day 7-21 Seller signs grant deed and staging is removed, if any.

Day 14-30 End of Escrow - Within final week of escrow period, buyer signs loan and closing documents and wires in closing funds.
Day 20-30 Loan funds and escrow closes.

Home Inspections

Review Disclosures, Reports & Repairs
It is the buyer’s duty to select all desired inspections and determine the overall condition of the property within the agreed timeline and contractual contingencies. Buyer will also review the disclosures and preliminary title report. You may approve or negotiate credits/repairs.

Loan, Appraisal, & Closing

Organize an appraisal with your bank. Your completed mortgage application with all supporting documentation should be submitted to your chosen lender upon receipt of the fully signed Purchase Agreement. The bank then issues loan approval. Consequently, the buyer wires the closing funds with the homeowner’s insurance in place, and then the loan will be funded with clearance to close.

Welcome Home!

Congratulations! You are now a homeowner.

Why Get Pre-approved? 

Pre-approval is different from pre-qualifying, as it is a full loan approval instead of an opinion letter. It is recommended to get pre-approval before looking at homes. Finding out what you qualify for will help you look in the right price range.

Determining the Right Price Range
The first step in buying a house is to determine the price range that is right for you. You will need to consider how much you are prepared to invest in your home and how much you will need to borrow. You should also consider how much property taxes and insurance will add to your monthly mortgage payment.

Determining Cash You Will Need
You will need enough cash to cover both your down payment and any closing costs associated with the purchase. Closing costs vary significantly based on the terms of your loan but are generally 1% to 2% of the purchase price.

Determining Additional Costs
Your Compass agent will help estimate your purchasing power and your carrying costs, but it is highly recommended that you discuss your cash needs and tax ramifications with an accountant and/or financial advisor.

Pre-Approval for a Loan
An offer is given greater consideration by a seller if it is accompanied by a preapproval letter from a reputable lender or a local mortgage broker. This assures the seller that you will be able to obtain the proposed financing and will not tie up the property needlessly.

Lenders Will Inquire About the Following Six Critical Factors:
1. Income
2. Savings/capital/investments
3. Credit history
4. Debt level/ratio
5. Employment history
6. The value of the property you wish to purchase



Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (called the RETDS), Seller Property Questionnaire
Questionnaires about the condition of the property and neighborhood.
Preliminary Title Report Provided by the Title Company
Gives you information about the sellers.
Pest Inspection Report
Sometimes referred to as a “Termite Report,” it examines all types of insect and fungus damage (Section 1) as well as conditions that could lead to damage (Section 2). This inspection is performed by a specially licensed contractor who must inspect properties according to criteria established by the State Board of Pest Inspection.
Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions Commonly Referred to as Cc&Rs
Home Owners Association (HOA)
Meeting Minutes for Last 12 Months
Home Inspection
Checks overall condition of the home from the foundation to the roof, including electrical. plumbing, and heating, the basic structure, as well as the quality of the finish work. Other recommended inspections may include structural engineering, soil conditions. fireplace and furnace. The inspection period is useful for obtaining estimates for repairs and improvements you plan to make later.
Natural Hazard Zone Disclosure (Property ID or JCP Report)
Gives you information about how the property might be affected by a natural hazard. Earthquake, Wildfire, Tsunami, Flood, etc. based on its specific location.
Agent’s Visual Inspection Disclosure
Each agent will conduct a visual inspection of the property to identify red flags.
HOA Budget and Budget Reserve Study (if it’s a larger building)
Condominium Certification Form
House Rules / Misc. Communication

Making the Offer

Q: What is a Good Offer?
A: A good offer depends on multiple factors: the market, the neighborhood. the seller needs and the list price. It is your agent’s job to provide you with the best information on these factors to help you make a decision. Is the list price low or high compared to the market? Is your offer the only one on the table or are there several you are up against? Are properties in general selling above or below asking in the neighborhood?

Q: How Do You Win in a Multiple Bid Situation?
A: Primarily by understanding the strategy and motivation of the sellers. It is important to know how many other offers are on the table. the state of the market, and the goals of the seller. An offer is more than a purchase price - a good offer is drafted carefully with overall terms that will appeal to the seller.

Q: How Long Will it Take for Me to Hear if I/We Got it?
A: We generally give 24 hours for the seller to respond. In some cases the seller requests more time. but usually no more than a couple days. In the case of a short sale or REO. it can take weeks or months to hear back from the bank.

Q: What is the Counter Offer? How Does it Work?
A: When you submit an offer, the seller has four choices:
∙ They can accept it as written, and you are ratified - meaning you are “in contract” to buy it.
∙ They can reject it.
∙ They can offer you a “back-up” position - in the case that they have accepted another offer, this will put you in first position to ratify if the first offer cancels or falls through.
∙ They can counter your offer. They can counter you on the purchase price, the length of escrow, contingency periods, or any other terms. Once you receive their counter, you can 1) Accept, 2) Reject, or 3) Counter their counter. This can go back and forth many times until both sides come to an agreement. As soon as one party agrees to the other’s counter, you are ratified.

Q: What is a Multiple Counter Offer?
A: If a seller receives more than one offer. they can counter all of them or a select few. In this scenario. the offer is not ratified when you respond to their counter. The seller has the final say. therefore you are not ratified until the seller accepts your counter.


Escrow: What is it?
Escrow is the period of time between your offer being accepted and your purchase being finalized. Escrow is a deposit of funds, a deed or other instrument by one party for the delivery to another party upon completion of a particular condition or event. 

How Does Escrow Work?
The principals to the escrow-buyer, seller, lender, agents-cause escrow instructions, most usually in writing, to be created, signed and delivered to the escrow officer. If a broker is involved, he will normally provide the escrow officer with the information necessary for the preparation of your escrow instructions and documents. The escrow officer will process the escrow, in accordance with the escrow instructions, and when all conditions required in the escrow can be met or achieved, the escrow will be “closed.” The duties of an escrow holder include: following the instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling the funds and/or documents in accordance with the instruction; paying all bills as authorized; responding to authorized requests from the principals; closing the escrow only when all terms funds in accordance with instructions and provide an accounting for same: the Closing or Settlement Statement. The escrow officer can ONLY take instructions from all parties in agreement. No one party in the transaction can soley give instructions. The escrow officer does not represent any one party-they are a neutral 3rd party in the transaction.

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 officer is a neutral third party and does not represent any one party

How Long Does Escrow Last?
Generally, 30 days is common. However, in some cases, you (or the seller) may need more time. In some cases, it is
shorter, for example with an all cash deal.

Who Chooses the Escrow?
In the Bay Area, it is usually the buyer’s choice, as the buyer pays the escrow fees. The selection of the escrow holder is normally done by agreement between the principals. If a real estate broker is involved in the transaction,
the broker may recommend an escrow holder. However, it is the right of the principals to use an escrow holder who is competent and who is experienced in handling the type of escrow at hand. There are laws that prohibit the payment of referral fees; this affords the consumer the best possible escrow services without any compromise caused by a person receiving a referral fee. 


Closing Costs

The Buyer Usually Pays:
  • Title insurance premiums
  • Escrow fee
  • Inspection reports (pest, contractor, engineer, roof, etc., as desired)
  • Pro-rated property taxes (from dateof acquisition)
  • Loan points & fees
  • Appraisal fee
  • Interest on new loan from date of funding to 30 days prior to first payment
  • Home warranty (as desired)
  • Homeowner’s insurance for first year
  • Earthquake insurance (optional)
  • Homeowner’s association transfer and move-in fees (for condominiums)
  • Pro-rated homeowner’s association fees (for condominiums)
  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI) if required by lender
  • Insurance impound account if required by lender
  • Property tax impound account if required by lender
  • Notary fees and recording charges for alldocuments in buyer’s name
  • Courier Fees

Closing Costs*

Prior to Closing


Differs according to the size of the property.

Appraisal & Credit Report
Paid at closing through escrow. 

Paid at Closing


Lender’s Title Insurance Fee
To ensure the lender’s interest in the property is the first mortgage.


Title Company Fees
Based on the value of the property.

Homeowner’s Insurance
Varies based on the property.

Tax Reserve Fund
A minimum of two months of estimated taxes placed into escrow if required by the lender, depending on the timing of closing.

Condominium Charges
Condominium associations may charge an application fee, move-in fee, etc.

*All prices are approximate


Key Terms

Recent Seller Success


Our History Of Excellence

“If you want to sell your home for top dollar, turn to Uwe for help. He helped sell our home in Ruby Hill in record time for a price we had only dreamt of. We interviewed a few realtors before choosing Uwe, but his energized and well informed presence in Ruby Hill and the high-end market made our decision easy. Based on his guidance and the help of his experienced team, we made some minor changes to prepare our home for sale, but timed it perfectly with the market. Before we knew it, we had a fantastic offer on the table which exceeded our expectations. We’ll be calling Uwe next time we need to do anything real estate related. We highly recommend him and his experienced team - we couldn’t have asked for more!”
“Uwe listed our house in a soft market for $1.6 million in the Livermore valley. B of A appraised the house at $1.2 which was absurd given the property. Uwe was able to bring a buyer in a couple of months with an offer of $1.75 after we turned down other offers. Our 4,130 Sq Ft house is now part of a winery and the new owners are very happy. Uwe did a great job of marketing the property and identifying the right market.”
“Uwe was very patient while we were looking for houses in the Tri-valley area. He listened to our needs and requests and offered a good variety of choices. Once he found the perfect house for us, he guided us through the maze of paperwork and loan processes. He was very professional but personable and made sure we found what we wanted.”
“Sonali and Uwe represented us in our recent purchase of a single-family home in Pleasanton. We were extremely impressed with their expertise, professionalism, and responsiveness. They are the type of ‘go-getters’ you need in this market to get a deal done. We would highly recommend them to others.”
“Sonali and Uwe were very proactive in highlighting interesting properties based on our criteria and ultimately finding us our house. They supported us at key moments during the contingency process and gave objective input. Post closing, Sonali has remained available to make sure things go smoothly until our move. Having dealt with many slippery or clueless agents in the past, it was nice to work with friendly professionals.”

Our Promise to You 

Uwe and Sonali are proven real estate experts specializing in the Tri-Valley area and Greater Bay Area overall. World-class service and a passion for the business makes this duo unstoppable.

Mission Statement

World-Class Service and a Passion for Real Estate
  • Our Mission is to guide you throughout the home buying and selling process to ensure that your experience is as seamless and stress-free as possible.
  • Our 47+ years of experience allow US to understand what it takes to buy or sell your home!
  • We are committed to providing the highest level of quality service to all of our clients!

Work With Us

Uwe and Sonali are proven real estate experts specializing in the Tri-Valley area. High-class service and a passion for the business makes this duo unstoppable.
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