Buyer's Guide

A Step-by-Step First Time Buyer's Guide

Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones and financially significant decisions of your life. To prepare yourself for this moment, you need to know what to expect during the process. This step-by-step first time buyer’s guide created by our team will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help you enjoy the journey as much as possible.


Step 1: Research

Do you already know where you want to buy? Do you want a condo, townhome, or single-family home? Which features do you like and dislike? Do you know what’s available on the market now? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, now is the time to start researching. In addition to looking for homes that interest you, also take note of asking prices. This could give you valuable insight into housing trends in specific neighborhoods and help you when the time comes to make an offer.


Step 2: Decide on Your Budget

Notice we said to decide on your budget—not determine how much the mortgage company will give you. In many cases, a mortgage company will pre-approve you for more than you’re comfortable spending, which is why you need to determine the monthly payment you feel comfortable with before talking to a lender. This likely includes doing a full household budget and taking into consideration what changes other than a mortgage payment will occur once you move into your new home. If you’ve lived in an apartment or with roommates, you may overlook new expenses like garbage, water, or HOA fees that could heavily alter your budget.



Just because you think you can afford a certain payment every month doesn’t mean the mortgage company will agree. Just as they may approve you for too large of an amount, they may also approve you for a lesser amount than anticipated or deny you a mortgage altogether. Lack of time at a job, insufficient credit, past bankruptcies, or other financial issues can cause major problems when trying to secure a mortgage. Before you get started on your search in earnest, talk to a mortgage professional to find out what amount you can qualify for. This will also be an advantage when you make an offer on a home, as some sellers won’t entertain offers from those who aren’t already pre-approved for a loan.


Step 4: Choose Your Real Estate Agent

Can you shop for, look at, and ultimately make an offer on a home without a real estate agent? Technically yes, but why would you when you can gain the expert guidance of a professional agent to advise and advocate for you during the home buying process? Not only will we help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and handle the offer and negotiation process, but we also have a nuanced understanding of the market that you might not possess. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task– this is where our expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let us help you find the home that's right for you.

Our Goal Is to Provide You with A Tailored Approach to Help You Secure Your Dream Home at The Right Price and Terms for You

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Step 5: Find the Right Home

We will arrange showings of homes you’re interested in that are within your price range. Take notes about what you like and don’t like, and make sure to pay attention to details. Turn light switches on and off, open and close doors, and run the faucets in various rooms. Don’t limit your inspection to the home itself. Make sure to take time to explore the neighborhood and keep an eye on traffic at certain times of the day, the parking situation, and how close it is to necessities like schools and grocery stores.


Step 6: Make an Offer

Once you have selected the perfect home, work with your agent to craft a competitive offer based on the fair market value of the home. Depending on what the home is listed at and what the current market environment is, we will have to think strategically about price, terms, and timelines. We will be able to help you negotiate if you receive a counteroffer and reach an agreement. At this point, you will put a deposit down on the home and it will be considered “contingent”.


Step 7: Have the Home Inspected

In some cases, your offer will be contingent on having the home inspected to ensure there is no major structural damage or large repairs needed. We can help you arrange this, and you can schedule it within days of making an offer. If there are no major issues, the process goes to step eight. If there are, you can renegotiate your offer based on what needs to be fixed, or you can withdraw it.



Prior to signing a Purchase & Sale Agreement (explained in Step 9), we will help you with due diligence on the home. This may include things like verifying information in the listing, researching fire department and inspectional services records, or researching the lead status of the home.



The Purchase and Sale (often referred to as the P&S) is the governing contract between a seller and a buyer with reference to the property to be purchased. Most buyers submit an initial Offer to Purchase which spells out the basic terms of a contract -- who is buying the house from whom, for how much and when, and basic contingencies like a home inspection or mortgage contingency. Once the due diligence phase has been completed, the P&S supersedes the initial offer and outlines in much greater detail the terms of the purchase. Along with including everything relevant from the initial offer (price, dates, contingencies) it also includes things like the legal description of the property, specific responsibilities of buyer and seller, title and deed considerations, seller credits, and any agreed upon fixtures that remain with the property or will be taken by the seller. Your real estate attorney will be instrumental in guiding you through this phase of the transaction.



Your lender will have your new home appraised so they can confirm the value of the home based on their own metrics. The appraisal is to ensure that all parties involved are paying a fair price for the house and the mortgage company is not overextended by their loan.


Step 11: Finish Paperwork

No one looks forward to all the paperwork involved in buying a home, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Fortunately, everything will be arranged by your lender, title company, and attorney. 


After signing the final paperwork to complete the purchase, you are now the owner of a new house. It may take a few days for your loan to be funded once the paperwork has been returned to the lender, but once that check is delivered to the seller, you’ll be all set to move into the home of your dreams. 

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Get assistance in determining current property value, crafting a competitive offer, writing and negotiating a contract, and much more. Contact us today.