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

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 our team will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help you enjoy the journey as much as possible.

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Step 1: Research

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.

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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 easily blow your budget.

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Step 3: Get Prequalified

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.

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Step 4: Choose a 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 it costs you nothing for agents like us to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will we help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but we also have a knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where our expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let us show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

Our goal is to provide you with the most personalized service that is designed to help you buy your dream home.

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Step 5: Find the Right Home

This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). 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.

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Step 6: Make an Offer

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. We 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.

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Step 7: Have the Home Inspected

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. 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 is, you can renegotiate your offer based on what needs to be fixed, or you can withdraw it.

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Step 8: Select Your Loan

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.

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Step 9: Get a Home Appraisal

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.

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Step 10: 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 and title company and, when you’re finished, you’ll know you are the legal owner of your new home.

Congratulations!

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.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Greg and Jennifer Smith are an incredibly experienced and effective realtor team and we would highly recommend both of them to anyone looking to buy or sell their home. We had the pleasure of working with them this past year in the sale of our house and the purchase of a new house. This was not our first experience buying or selling a house, but it was far and away the best experience we’ve had. Jennifer...

— The Collins Family

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
How do I begin to tell you how much we loved working with Jen and Greg? Let me start by saying they are both very professional, knowledgeable, dependable, always available, kind, considerate, enthusiastic, great listeners and willing to do what is necessary when dealing with problems. My husband and I both agree that the recent sale of our home was the easiest we have ever had! You will not be sorry choo...

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WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
My experience with Greg has been INCREDIBLE! He has been remarkably attentive and has given me phenomenal guidance. I have been involved with a lot of real estate transactions (residential and commercial) and Greg, and his wife Jen, have been valuable beyond calculation. I have been so impressed by their expertise and assistance!

— Brad A

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Greg and Jennifer are phenomenal Realtors® and even more spectacular as people. Working with them feels like working with an old friend — they are happy to discuss your concerns and ease your mind, but will also provide the hard facts you need during the home buying process. They were responsive and informative as well, getting our deal closed in a very quick amount of time. We would work with them again...

— KYLE S.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
My wife and I had been looking for a home for several months with another agent and we weren't having much success. Jennifer and Greg came highly recommended to us through a family member and during the first phone call with them, we knew they were going to help us find our first home. They were highly professional, very knowledgeable about the real estate markets in the areas we were looking in and walk...

— LARRY

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Greg and Jen are wonderful! I can't say anything negative about them. wonderful to work with all around.

— HEATHER H.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Jennifer and Greg are absolutely wonderful to work with! They are always available to answer questions and help walk you through the process. We found our new home within only a week of working with them! The process couldn’t have been easier. They were also wonderful with our children who had to accompany us to showings. I highly recommend working with them!

— ERIN C.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I would HIGHLY recommend Greg and Jennifer. I recently utilized their expertise to sell my house and purchase a home in a high stress situation. They offered incredible service and guidance while making the process smooth and remarkably enjoyable! I truly can’t say enough wonderful things about my experience! Thank you both so much for helping me!!

— The Adey Family | GREAT EXPERIENCE!!

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Had the absolute pleasure of connecting with Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their market knowledge was impressive. Their experience was as evident as their love for what they do. If you’re looking for a team that will treat you like family, you found it. 10/10

— J. Banks

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