For first time home buyers, the process of purchasing a home may feel overwhelming. Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. So, you should feel confident you’re working with an agent with integrity who is looking out for your best interests.

Unfamiliar jargon from your realtor, uncharted territory for you, and uncertainty about where you’ll land can make being a first time home buyer feel scary. BUT – it shouldn’t be intimidating.

As a realtor, one of my greatest joys is helping first time home buyers find homes that meet their needs and budgets – even if they don’t have a lot of money. To help you get started, I’ve put together a package of information outlining what you need to know about buying your first home. It includes everything from government incentives for first time home buyers to the steps you need to take to qualify for a mortgage.

Steps to Owning Your First Home

Every realtor has a unique process, but we all adhere to the same guidelines. The following steps are what I suggest my clients do, and what I do for them.

Step 1: Your Personal Buying Consultation

At our initial visit, we’ll spend about an hour together discussing the important details of your home search. I will answer any questions you have and give you my detailed Home Buyer’s Guide. My Home Buyer’s Guide offers more information about what to expect when purchasing your first home, answers to frequently asked questions and a comprehensive closing cost estimation section (so you know exactly what to expect, with no surprise last minute fees or costs). When you are ready to get pre-approval for a mortgage, I will be happy to recommend a wonderful mortgage specialist to you.

Step 2: Hiring a Buyer’s Agent

A professional buyer’s agent will be your advocate in the purchase of your home. If you choose to hire me as your buyer’s agent, I will provide you with an agency agreement for your review. This will provide all the facts up front before you sign anything – and the peace of mind of knowing your best interests will be fully represented by a professional when you are ready to negotiate the purchase of your home.

Step 3: Mortgage – Getting pre-approved for financing

Before you begin your search for a home, you will need to apply for mortgage financing. Your pre-approved mortgage amount and interest rate will be based on your down payment, income, credit score and current debt. Your mortgage specialist will use a calculation to determine your mortgage budget, estimated payments, and qualification for a discounted interest rate. Mortgage pre-approval commitments are usually given for 90 to 120 days. During that time, your pre-approved rate is guaranteed even if rates increase.

Step 4: Now the Fun Begins – Touring homes

Most buyers are shocked at how different homes look in real life compared to a virtual tour! Don’t feel disheartened if the first few places you see don’t measure up to the photos you previewed online. On the other hand, some buyers fall in love with the very first home they visit. Everybody’s experience is different, just as their search criteria and expectations are unique. On average, most people will look at about 15 properties before they are ready to make an offer.

Step 5: The Offer – Making an offer to purchase a home

Once you find a home you love, I’ll put together a purchasing contract (an “offer”). Your offer is a legally binding contract. The seller cannot accept any other offers once they have signed back a contract to you. The initial agreement will spell out the terms of the purchase including the price, move in date, and included items (like appliances). In most cases ask for a one-week conditional time frame to give you the opportunity to hire a home inspector, review the title to the property, and organize final financial details. Once the conditions are removed, you need to secure your deposit draft with your bank. The purchase agreement would then be forwarded to your lawyer’s office to draft the final title transfer documents.

Step 6: Hurray – Time to transfer the title and move in

Typically, you’ll visit your lawyer’s office a day or two before you receive the keys, to complete the “closing” for your new home. I recommend leaving at least a day between closing day and moving day. This way, in case of any unforeseeable delays, your key delivery is unlikely to be affected.

Step 7: Celebrate – You just bought your first home!

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Are you ready to take the first step? Let’s chat. I look forward to speaking with you and answering any questions you have!