Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones 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 your agent will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help you enjoy the journey as much as possible.
Do you already know where you want to buy? If you want a condo, townhome, or single-family home? Which features do you like and dislike? 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 any changes in 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.
Notice I 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 easily blow 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 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 your heart set on a home, 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 prequalified for a loan.
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 it costs you nothing for an agent like me to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will I help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but I also have a knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. I may be able to steer you away from certain homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.
This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). I 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.
Once you have selected the perfect home, work with your agent to craft a fair offer based on the value of comparable homes on the market. Depending on what the home is listed at and whether the current environment is a buyer’s or seller’s market, your offer may be below, at, or even above the asking price. I will be able to help you negotiate if you receive a counteroffer and reach an agreement. At this point, the house will go into escrow.
In most cases, your offer will be contingent on having the home inspected to ensure there is no major structural damage or large repairs needed. I 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 is, you can renegotiate your offer based on what needs to be fixed, or you can withdraw it.
Now is the time to go back to the mortgage lender who pre-approved or pre-qualified you and choose your mortgage. You will be presented with various options based on your unique financial situation, including fixed-rate, variable-rate, 15-year, 30-year, or special programs such as VA loans or FHA loans. Work with your mortgage lender to select the option you feel the most comfortable with.
Your lender will have your new home appraised so they have their independent value of it. The appraisal is to ensure that all parties involved are paying a fair price for the house.
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 and title company and, when you’re finished, you’ll know you are the legal owner of your new home.
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.
Very professional and knowledgeable agent. Available 24/7 to answer questions during our home sale process and really appreciated her flexibility. Highly recommended.
Elaine was an absolute pleasure to work with through this process. Every step of the process was handled with professionalism and effectiveness. I highly recommend her.
Please contact Elaine for a very professional and experienced real estate agent and staff. Promises made, promises kept. We are super satisfied with our recent sale of my brother's home and would like to thank everyone involved.
She went above and beyond. She handled everything with minimal effort on my part as I could not be in town. She cleaned out the house and sold what she could. She worked with an extremely unhappy peasant tenant who didn’t want ...
We could not have purchased our home in Florida without the expert help of Elaine Koch. She worked with us through the entire new build process for 9 months including being at the home when we could not be there. She is extreme...
Elaine is fantastic. She found the perfect house for us before I knew it was the perfect house. She recommended the right number for the offer and knew how best to negotiate with the other REALTOR. And in selling my previous ho...
Elaine crushed it. She not only consistently provided me with a list of homes that fit my criteria in multiple localities but was super responsive to ones that I found and was interested in as well. Always super polite and enga...
Elaine helped us sell our home for more than we could have ever dreamed of and was such a pleasure to work with. She is the absolute best in her field and we were impressed with her knowledge and expertise. She helped us style ...
When our first real estate agent didn't work out, we hired Elaine to sell our home for 30 years. We could not have made a better choice. We were skittish because of our initial experience, because of timeline issues, and becaus...
The experience of buying a house can be overwhelming, Ms. Koch explained the process in detail and what one may expect along the way. I must say it was one of the most pleasant and memorable home purchase for me. Thank you.
Her comprehensive approach to the real estate experience, utilizing integrated strategic marketing, skilled negotiation tactics, contract expertise, and detailed geographic and demographic knowledge, has resulted in her reputation as a most trusted and reliable agent.