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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. My step-by-step first-time buyer’s guide will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help you enjoy the journey as much as possible. Scroll down and fill out the form to receive your complimentary guide.
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 advise to decide on your budget—not determine how much the mortgage company will lend you. In many cases, a mortgage company will pre-approve you for more than you are comfortable spending, which is why you need to determine the monthly mortgage payment and expenses you feel comfortable with before talking to a lender. This likely includes doing a full household budget with consideration given to additional financial changes that will occur once you move into your new home. If you are a first-time home buyer, you may overlook new expenses that come with a mortgage like taxes, yard maintenance, city fees, utilities, or HOA fees that may put you over budget.
A mortgage company may not agree with the amount of mortgage you can afford one you have determined a budget. 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 or low credit scores, 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, first speak with a mortgage professional to determine an amount you might qualify. This will 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.
As a Sotheby's International Real Estate Advisor, I have knowledge of the market, a local/global network of real estate professionals and partners and access to industry-exclusive assets and listings that will benefit you throughout the buying process. I take pride on advising and educating my clients and helping you to identify properties that suit your preferences. I can recommend neighborhoods in which you are unfamiliar, suggest hidden gems, arrange showings, handle the contracts, submit a competitive offer on your behalf and negotiate in your best interest to ensure you get your dream home at the right price.
This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!) I will arrange showings of homes on your behalf, taking note of your needs, style and preferences during each showing. I make sure to pay attention to the details of each listing and perform a preliminary Realtor inspection noting any items that may be of concern which we will further investigate during formal inspection and contingency periods. We will also make sure to take time to explore the neighborhood, discussing things like proximity to work, school, traffic areas and times, parking and other factors that play into the livability of the home when deciding it as one of your largest investments.
Once you have selected the perfect home, we will work together to craft a fair offer based on the value of comparable homes on the market. Depending on the price for which the home is listed and whether the current environment is a buyer’s or seller’s market, your offer may be below, at, or above the listed asking price. I will negotiate on your behalf if you receive a counteroffer and work to reach an agreement that is in your best interest. Once your offer is accepted, 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 we do find major issues, I can either renegotiate your offer based on repair costs, or I can withdraw your offer.
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 with which you feel the most comfortable.
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.
Completing all the necessary paperwork involved in buying a home can be a daunting but crucial final step in the process. Fortunately, I will oversee the process to ensure everything gets completed through communications with our transaction coordinator, lender, escrow company, title representative, and home warranty company. When we are finished, you will feel confident know you are the legal owner of your new home.
After signing the final paperwork to complete your purchase, you are now the proud owner of your new home. 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 will be all set to move into the home of your dreams.
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