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.
Rebecca did awesome for helping us to rent out our condo. She is very experienced and extremely responsible. The whole process was very smooth and transparent. Definitely I recommend her to all people.— Xin G.
Nicole was more than helpful. She made finding a home very easy to find and was always helping in any way she could. I would definitely recommend her to anyone finding a home in the Jersey City, Hoboken Area.— Buyer
Rebecca helped me to sell my home in May 2022. She made everything fast, smooth, and hassle-free. She knows the market well and is able to get me a great price for my home. Now that I have worked with Rebecca as a renter, buyer, and seller, I would highly recommend Rebecca as your one-stop agent for your real estate business.— Buyer | Seller
Rebecca is very knowledgeable, very efficient, and has a deep understanding of the market. More importantly, she is very warm-hearted and always willing to help. Since we are new to the market, she also spent time explaining things to us patiently and saved us a lot of time. Rebecca is now my go-to resource for all my property-related needs in the area.— Buyer | Seller
Rebecca is a fantastic real estate professional. She's super helpful and responsive, and she did a fantastic job. As a first-time seller, I was totally clueless about the steps to selling my home. She patiently went over all details and helped me do virtual staging of my home to ensure a stunning presentation. I definitely recommend her if a homeowner needs a responsible REALTOR.— Jiran C.
Rebecca helped us rent our unit. She is very professional and highly knowledgeable about the real estate market. She gave us good advice, helped market our place better, and got us an offer, actually 2 offers, at our asking price. Even the whole process of renting and paperwork was carried out very smoothly, transparently, and in a timely manner. We highly recommend Rebecca for buying, selling, and renting your real estate.— Seller
My husband and I worked with Nicole for a few months. She helped us to find the right apartment for our needs. She was very responsive, very nice, and super flexible with our schedule. It was always pleasant doing the walk-through with her and she couldn’t have been more patient with us. We definitely recommend working with her and she will be our first phone call if we look to rent or buy something else in the area.— Marielena J.
Nicole helped us from start to end in our home-buying process in Jersey City. As first-time home buyers, Nicole was able to guide us through every step of the process and was very patient and responsive to all our questions. She had a very positive demeanor and shows great attitude and enthusiasm while showing us around various properties. She provided honest and candid feedback to us throughout the process. Very grateful to have her as our REALTOR.— Shradha S.
Nicole is the best of the best. She is honest, reliable, knowledgeable, patient, thoughtful, and hard-working. I first met her when I responded to her post for my dream apartment, a competitive building I’d been waiting for 9 months to get into. Prices had just spiked again and I thought I was being gouged, but she explained the market dynamics and my options so authentically that I came to trust her. I was outbid once again, but Nicole remembered me and reached out when another unit in the same building, and others like it, became available a couple of months later. She truly understood what I was looking for and only brought options under those cr...— Anisha R.
This is the first time my husband and I are writing a review ever, and it's well deserved. We were able to find a place in Jersey City that met our requirements, doing so all the way from San Francisco thanks to Nicole. Nicole made what would have been a more stressful cross-country move into something so much more pleasant. First, Nicole toured the units for us as we viewed them via FaceTime from San Francisco. Secondly, she made tour videos of the places we were interested in so we could review them later and compare and contrast. Thirdly when we were negotiating the lease, she helped us pull comps of similar units in the building of our interest....— Drew & Christine H.
Our team’s unprecedented professionalism, skill, and attention to detail has allowed us to set sales records for the past years. We will ensure your buying or selling experience exceeds your expectations. Contact us today to start your home searching journey.