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.
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 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.
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.
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. I may be able to steer you away from certain homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to start by saying that Chelsea was the best REALTOR I have ever worked with buying a house hands down, she was always on our side looking out for us, and always available just a phone call away. We actually met Chelsea at an open house and instantly had that connection with someone you can trust and rely on, she answered all our questions with no hesitation or salesman pitches. We recently moved to the area and were renting a house in hopes to find the perfect home in our neighborhood and Chelsea made that all possible. I am a veteran that was seeking a VA loan and during the height of the housing craziness, there were actually sellers who wan...— ROBERT R.
My fiancé and I recently moved down to Florida from NY and we were eager to buy a home, but it had to be in the most perfect neighborhood. My fiancé was pretty adamant about buying a home on the water with a boat lift, dock, nice size yard, and a pool. We quickly learned that a dream would be a bit difficult to achieve. We decided to go to our first open house and that is where we met Chelsea. Chelsea was not only very nice and accommodating, answering our many questions, but she knew and thoroughly understood the area and what it entails to buy waterfront properties. A couple of weeks later Chelsea reached out to us and sent us a listing that she t...— ELIZABETH P.
Chelsea is a fantastic broker who recently helped me close on two investment properties in the Tampa area. As a first-time buyer, and having never been to Tampa previously, I needed a hands-on broker with an innate understanding of the market and someone who could guide me through the entire process end-to-end. I luckily found Chelsea just by searching on google and I'm happy to say that she more than exceeded my expectations. She worked hard every step of the way so that we could tour a large number of properties in a short space of time and also put in strong offers on the properties that I wanted. She helped me navigate the closing process for bo...— TERRY H.
I had been looking for a Florida home for a couple of years. I wasn't yet retired so I wasn't in a hurry. I had plenty of time to find the perfect house and I went through several agents. None of them really listened to me about what I wanted and didn't want. Anything that came on the market in my price range ended up in my inbox. Then I found Chelsea. She truly listened, was undaunted by the fact that I wasn't an immediate buyer, and sent me truly qualified homes in the area I was looking in. When I found a house I liked, she arranged for a virtual walk-through and really advocated for me. She worked with the seller's agent to get this done smoothl...— GERRI M.
Chelsea is an amazing REALTOR and did a wonderful job getting our Condo sold. Our family had suddenly been placed in a very stressful situation, and Chelsea came in and got us all through it all. Her professionalism and genuineness allowed for a quick connection, in a situation where trust and communication are key. I don’t know what we would have done, without her patience and thoroughness throughout the whole selling process. She kept us informed through every step. She was an amazing find, and I highly recommend working with her.— SCOTT C.
Chelsea helped my boyfriend and I move into our first home through an amazing program called Home Partners. When I first called her, she immediately told me the next steps of what we can do to start moving. Since then, she has provided us with timely responses on houses to tour and great insight into locations in the Tampa area. She has also taken extra care to make sure the home we chose was in good condition and even visited it herself during the closing process. I highly recommend Chelsea to anyone wanting to rent/buy a house— HAEGI O.
Working with Chelsea was a wonderful experience. If you're looking for a house in Tampa Bay you need to call Chelsea. Her extensive knowledge and negotiation skills will save you a bunch of time and money. And the care she shows for her clients makes the home-buying experience easy and enjoyable.— WILLIAM S.
Chelsea is an amazing agent. She was there every step of the way in the purchase of our house which was done long distance. Her negotiating skills are amazing and she was able to save us a lot of money. We highly recommend her for all your real estate needs.— NORA D.
Chelsea was so quick to respond, which helped us immensely in finding our rental. She was courteous, and professional, and made time for our questions. We plan to buy in the future and I will definitely be keeping Chelsea’s number to work with her again.— KYLE M.
Chelsea was amazing. She is extremely knowledgeable about the market and all aspects of selling a home. Always there to answer questions and help you through the process. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a REALTOR.— MELISSA B.
I want my clients to be satisfied with their purchase during and after the sale. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the greater Tampa region, my attention to detail is 2nd to none.