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 your agent 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.


Step 2: Decide on Your Budget

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.


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 or what you should do to put you in a better position to qualify for what you are looking for. At this time, you should determine what type of loan you will want to use as well - conventional or other special types like VA, FHA, etc. This will also be required when you are ready to make an offer on a home, as some sellers won’t entertain offers from those who aren’t already prequalified for a loan.


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. We may have insights to a specific home that is outside of the listing info provided, can suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.

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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 all the details, even the ones you didn't know to look for! 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 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 under contract.


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 will recommend local professional for the job. You will then schedule it upon receiving your accepted offer. If there are no major issues, the process goes to step eight. If there is, you may be able to renegotiate your offer based on what needs to be fixed, or you to withdraw it all together.


Step 8: Select Your Loan

Now is the time to go back to the mortgage lender who pre-approved or pre-qualified you, choose your mortgage and complete your loan application. You will be presented with various options based on your unique financial situation, including fixed-rate, variable-rate, 15-year, 30-year. Work with your mortgage lender to select the option you feel the most comfortable with, who can then lock in your rate.


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.


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 attorney and, when you’re finished, you’ll know you are the legal owner of your new home. During this time, you can prepare for moving day! Once you hear the words "Clear to Close" you will know everything is well on the way and you will own your new home within a few days!


After signing the final paperwork to complete the purchase, your attorney will file your paperwork with the Registry of Deeds in your county and sends the funds to the seller, which officially makes you a legal homeowner. You’ll be all set to move into the home of your dreams!

What Our Clients Say
Sarah Rock helped us find and buy a vacation home from 2000 miles away. She took the time to listen and understand what we were looking for in a property and sought out quite a few options for us during a time when there wasn’t a lot of availability on Cape. We ended up with a great house but had significant issues post-inspection. With Sarah's attention to detail, willingness to help and creatively pro...

— Julie C.

What Our Clients Say
Sarah was extremely responsive and listen to our wish list as we were looking to purchase a condo. We only wanted one particular area, which had limited units on the market. Sarah did a mailing to the residents of the complex letting them know she had a possible buyer if they were going to be selling. This resulted in us looking at and ultimately buying a unit before it was listed, which was very co...

— Gail Q.

What Our Clients Say
In spite of my husband and I (buyers) residing in Georgia and sellers being in Hawaii, Sarah Rock was able to expedite the purchase of our “dream second home” in Plymouth, Massachusetts from finding it to having a signed contract in less than a month, procuring the first home we felt worthy of placing our bid. Sarah employed her astute and skilled Realtor® expertise to expeditiously navigated our search ...

— S. Carver

Work With Us

Our team will serve as your ultimate resource every step of the way, and they go above and beyond to foster a smooth, seamless, and stress-free experience. We are the negotiating experts, the marketing gurus, the advocators, the local insiders, and the professional agents you can trust to exceed your expectations.