For the First Time Home Buyer

10 Steps to Owning the Home You Want


1. Find a licensed real estate agent (agent) with whom you want to work.

2. Enter into a Buyers Agency Agreement. This will guarantee that you have an agent who will look out for your best interest in all aspects of your home purchase.

3. Talk with your agent about your wants and needs and prioritize the items most important to you in a home. This along with Step 4 below will help your agent to select the appropriate homes from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for you to consider. You can also look for homes on the Internet or in the newspaper yourself or note for sale signs in the neighborhoods of your choice. Be sure to let your agent know about any homes you find by yourself that you would like to visit.

4. Meet with a loan officer to get pre-approved for a loan. This will help you determine the price range of the home you can afford. Ask the loan officer to provide the pre-approval letter to your agent.

5. Talk with your agent to choose the homes you would like to visit. Your agent will arrange to show you the homes of your choice at a time agreeable to you and each homes owner. Your agent will contact the listing agent for each home to make the showing arrangements.

6. Visit homes with your agent. Take notes to help you remember each home. Write down up to 3 things you like and 3 things you dont like about each home. Take a few photos to help you better remember each home.

7. When you find a home you want to buy ask your agent to provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA.) A CMA will assist you in deciding how much to offer for the home. Review the information and use it to help you decide the price you would ideally like to pay for the home and the maximum amount you are willing to pay. Decide the amount to offer. Be aware that your first offer may not be accepted.

8. Ask your agent to help you write the offer. Your agent will use a standard contract form. Doing the paperwork to write the offer may take two hours or more. You will be asked to make many decisions. For example, if you want a home warranty, the date you want to own the home, and any items you want the seller to pay for or leave with the home, etc. 

You will need to provide your agent with an earnest money check made out to the listing company when the offer is written. Usually your agent will present your offer along with the earnest money to the listing agent who will present your offer to the seller.

9. Your agent will inform you of the sellers response to your offer and negotiate on your behalf until there is agreement to all terms between you and the seller.

Once there is agreement the offer is accepted and it becomes a legally binding contract. You must adhere to the timelines specified in the contract. For example, you must apply for the loan in the number of days indicated, you must order the home inspection so that it occurs in the number of days specified, etc. Your agent will help you adhere to the timelines.

10. Stay in touch with your lender or loan officer to make sure that you provide all necessary information and that your loan is being processed in a timely manner. Make sure that any additional funds you will need for closing are available to you. And, Stay in touch with your agent. Be sure to ask for the location and time of the closing. Approximately two days before the closing the closing attorney will send you and your agent a form called the HUD 1. This form lists the expenses for the sale and should be carefully reviewed. It provides detailed information for the seller and buyer sides of the transaction. Any errors need to be brought to the attention of the closing attorney. The HUD 1 specifies the exact amount of money you will need to have for the closing.

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