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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.

90 Ways I Serve You

1. Schedule Time to Meet for a Strategy Session

2. Prepare Guide & Educational Presentation

3. Meet to Discuss Goals and Non-Negotiables

4. Explain Agent Relationships

5. Discuss Different Types Of Financing Options

6. Help Find A Mortgage Lender

7. Obtain Pre-Approval From Lender

8. Provide Resources to Research crime in neighborhoods, school ratings, etc.

9. Provide Overview Of Current Market Conditions

10. Explain Companies Value

11. Discuss Earnest Money Deposits

12. Explain Home Inspection Process

13. Educate About Local Neighborhoods

14. Discuss Foreclosures & Short Sales

15. Gather Needs and Wants of Next Home

16. Explain School Districts Effect On Home Value

17. Explain Recording Devices During Showings

18. Learn All Goals & Make A Plan

19. Create Internal File For Records

20. Send Homes Within Your Criteria

21. Start Showing Homes As Requested

22. Schedule & Organize All Showings

23. Gather Showing Instructions For Each Showing

24. Send Showing Schedule

25. Show Up Early and Prepare First Showing

26. Look For Possible Repair Issues While Showing

27. Gather Feedback After Each Showing

28. Update When New Homes Hit The Market

29. Share Knowledge & Insight About Homes

30. Guide Through Emotional Journey

31. Listen and Learn at Each Showing

32. Keep Records Of All Showings

33. Update Listing Agents With Feedback

34. Discuss Home Owners Associations

35. Estimate Expected Utility Usage Costs

36. Confirm Water Source and Status

37. Discuss Transferable Warranties

38. Explain The Property Appraisal Process

39. Discuss Multiple Offer Situations

40. Create Practice Offer To Help Prepare

41. Provide Updated Housing Market Data

42. Inform Showing Activity Weekly

43. Update on Any Price Drops

44. Discuss MLS Data at Showings

45. Find Right Home

46. Determine Property Inclusions & Exclusions

47. Prepare Sales Contract When Ready

48. Educate on Sales Contract Options

49. Determine Need for Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

50. Explain Home Warranty Options

51. Update Pre-Approval Letter With Each New Offer

52. Discuss Loan Objection Deadlines

53. Choose a Closing Date

54. Verify Listing Data is Correct

55. Review Comps To Determine Value

56. Prepare & Submit Offer To Listing Agent

57. Negotiate Offer With Listing Agent

58. Execute A Sales Contract & Disclosures

59. Once Under Contract, Send To Escrow Company

60. Coordinate Earnest Money Wire Transfer

61. Deliver Copies To Mortgage Lender

62. Obtain Copy Of Sellers Disclosures

63. Deliver Copies of Contract/Addendum

64. Obtain a Copy of HOA Bylaws

65. Keep Track of Copies for Office File

66. Coordinate Inspections

67. Meet Home Inspector at The Property

68. Review Home Inspection

69. Negotiate Inspection Objections

70. Get All Agreed Upon Repairs in Writing

71. Verify any Existing Lease Agreements

72. Check in With Lender To Verify Loan Status

73. Check On Appraisal Date

74. Negotiate Any Unsatisfactory Appraisals

75. Coordinate Closing Times & Location

76. Make Sure All Documents Are Fully Signed

77. Verify Escrow Company Has Everything Needed

78. Reminder to Schedule Utilities Transfer

79. Make Sure All Parties Are Notified Of Closing Time

80. Solve Any Title Problems Before Closing

81. Receive & Review Closing Documents

82. Review Closing Figures

83. Confirm Repairs Have Been Made By Sellers

84. Perform Final Walk Through

85. Resolve Any Last Minute Issues

86. Get CDA Signed By Brokerage

87. Attend Closing

88. Provide Home Warranty Paperwork

89. Facilitate Transfer Of keys and Accessories

90. Close Out File


Chelsea is the most experienced, caring, and patient agent. She took me on as a client after a failed experience with a prior agent and was knowledgeable and kind. She walked me through my first home purchase with the best intentions at heart. She was prompt to schedule and prompt to respond. She is awesome at getting to know her clients and what they like and look for in a home based on their personal n...

— Britzia P


I can’t speak highly enough of Chelsea as my real estate agent. She is professional, knowledgeable, honest, and very patient. My house was not as easy to sell as I thought it would be. It needed many repairs and many showings, but we both hung in there and made the sale. I left for Florida after the closing and was so happy that everything worked out for both of us! I have and will continue to recommend ...

— Tracy B.


Chelsea was very pleasant to work with during our home-buying process. She was extremely accommodating, patient, and knowledgeable of today's market. We would highly recommend her to anyone who is looking to buy or sell their home!

— Lorenzo D.

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What truly sets us apart from other agents? We have financial smarts, a design mindset, and 7+ years of big-corporate marketing expertise. Combined, We ensure a successful selling process, and a comfortable purchasing process, and remain a continual sounding board for our clients years after closing.