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.

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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.

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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 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. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where my expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let me show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

My 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!). 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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.

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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.

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Jennifer A.
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Natalie A.
What My Clients Say
I worked in property management and knew a lot of REALTORS. Nicolette is the only agent I trusted when the time came for me to purchase my house. Nicolette is honest, trustworthy, and professional. The home I fell in love with had 10 offers and my offer was not the highest offer. Nicolette worked closely with me and the seller's agent and the house was mine without raising the price. Nicolette scheduled ...

— Buyer

What My Clients Say
We can't speak highly enough of our experience with Nicolette Langer, we were first-time buying remote property with very little knowledge about how to find the right place without looking at the house. We met with a couple of REALTORS before Nicolette, but we knew instantly that she was the one for us. She is honest and very prompt to show us the property on video calls. Nicolette was extremely responsi...

— Buyer

What My Clients Say
My family and I have the wonderful opportunity to work with Nicolette to find our piece of property to build our custom homes on. While it was a long process and took a lot of patience, Nicolette had a great attitude and was always motivated to help us find our dream lot. I must say, Nicolette also made herself readily available at almost every hour every day of the week as well. It was easy to ask quest...

— Buyer

What My Clients Say
We started working with Nicolette to find our new home. She was very thorough in understanding our needs and extremely patient as we toured properties over the course of a few months. Once we found the perfect place, she expertly negotiated on our behalf, answering all of our questions along the way and attending to every detail. We had such an amazing experience that we also had her sell our existing ho...

— Jennifer A.

What My Clients Say
I got in contact with Nicolette when I first went to check out a house I was interested in buying. I had no prior experience with home buying and had no idea of the home buying process. Nicolette helped me check out several houses. She was friendly to talk to and explained the process of home buying to me. She helped me with every step and even got me in touch with a mortgage expert who had me pre-approv...

— Buyer

What My Clients Say
Nicolette has helped us with the purchase of our home and with the sale of our investment property. She is an absolute joy to work with. She’s knowledgeable about the market, stays in constant contact throughout the whole buying/selling process, provides resources for any necessary repairs, financing the list goes on. She listed our investment property recently and within five days we were in escrow with...

— Buyer

What My Clients Say
Nicolette was very helpful in our home purchase experience. We are "out of area" buyers and appreciated Nicolette's willingness to meet our schedule needs. Nicolette was not "pushy" in an attempt to get a purchase underway but was very supportive of our needs and desires. She also was able to provide us with lender and service company recommendations that helped us through the purchase process and in the...

— Buyer

What My Clients Say
She is an absolute joy to work with. She’s knowledgeable about the market, stays in constant contact throughout the whole buying or selling process, provides resources for any necessary repairs, financing the list goes on. She listed our investment property recently and within five days we were in escrow with an offer over the asking price, and we couldn’t have done it without Nicolette’s expertise! She’...

— Natalie A.

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