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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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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!). 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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.

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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.

Nancy Partipilo
Andra Miller
Linda K.
William M.
Archi K.
L. Jameson
Cardens W.
Sergio S.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Been working with Jessica for many years. Always a smooth experience. I highly recommend her services.

— Nancy Partipilo

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Jessica is a class act! She is an incredibly hard worker. She is willing to do whatever is needed to get the job done. She has a positive attitude. She’s cool under stress. She is kind and smart and has a fun personality tied up with a ribbon of professionalism!! She’s the whole package and we highly recommend her as she made our experience buying and selling amazing!

— Andra Miller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

If you want an agent that will work for you 24/7 and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty cleaning out a house that had been lived in for 67 years; if you want an agent that will keep the process on track and you informed; if you want an agent who will continue to offer support long, long after the deal has closed--then Jessica Gannon should be your choice!

— Linda K.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

A true professional. I highly recommend Jessica. She was always available and solved numerous issues.

— William M.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Working with Jessica definitely made a difference in selling our house in Laguna Beach. Besides her professionalism and expertise in real estate, her love for architecture and design definitely sets her aside from other agents I know. Her warm yet professional personality definitely makes her one of a kind. She is socially very active, self motivated, and passionate in what she does. I highly recommend w...

— Archi K.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Jessica is honest, caring, and knowledgeable, and goes above and beyond for her clients. I was a first time homebuyer working with her and felt completely at ease in her hands. She was so on top of everything and always looking ahead at the next steps. She’s very responsive and thoughtful. Best of all, she’s down to earth and fun to be around. She makes the experience enjoyable. Can’t recommend her enough!

— L. Jameson

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Jessica is extremely skilled, kind, sweet, patient, knowledgeable, and overall a great agent. I have known her for years, and when we decided to buy our first house we knew she is the right person to help us find our perfect home. This girl knows her inventory, she is very professional, organized, prompt, and pleasant to work with. I recommend her to anyone who is looking to buy or sell a place.

— Cardens W.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

The best angel I ever knew. Just light and happiness in her soul.

— Sergio S.

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