BUYER'S GUIDE

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 your agent 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 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.

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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 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.

FIND YOUR DREAM HOME

BROWSE HOMES
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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!). 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 

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Shannon and Dan Vu

Shannon and Dan Vu

Lisa is AMAZING!!! We met Lisa a little over a year ago. Most would say we met by chance but we believe our paths were meant to cross. We were new to the area and renting a home, so planning ahead we started looking at houses t...
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Christina McIver

Lisa Little was amazing to work with! She asked us all the right questions and listened to us when we expressed what we wanted. She introduced us to neighborhoods that met our needs and was able to help us expand our search whi...
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Peggy & Sam Hopwood

Lisa Little of Compass Realty was great working with to sell our home. Lisa was always there to answer my questions and to offer advice. Lisa's marketing background was evident as she came up with numerous ways to present my ho...
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Leslie

Leslie

Very professional and great person to work with. She sold my home with no hiccups. I also bought my home with Lisa, everything went smooth. Would recommend Lisa to all buyers and sellers.
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Jae D.

Jae D.

Lisa is so helpful and knowledgable. We moved from out of state and she made the process so much easier. She always responded to my texts and emails promptly. When we decide to move again and sell this house we will be using Lisa!
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Mikhael R.

Mikhael R.

Lisa helped my wife and I sell our old home and buy our new dream home. Lisa was an absolute delight to work with throughout the whole process. Her knowledge of the area and industry were extremely helpful and made everything f...
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Kelly D.

Kelly D.

Lisa recently helped us with purchasing our new home. We've been through a number of real estate transactions in the last 20 years and I can unequivocally say that Lisa was the best RealtorĀ® we've worked with yet. She was proac...
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Chris M.

Chris M.

We were recommended to Lisa by a friend and to say the least she was amazing. She truly made our switch from California a less stressful experience. Lisa listened to our needs and found us the perfect place that matched our req...
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Nicki B.

Nicki B.

Lisa is fantastic to work with! Very timely in her responses, always with a smile, and very professional. She has a great eye for staging, working well with the space presented to her, and even working in conjunction with furni...
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Daniel C.

Daniel C.

Lisa was absolutely amazing through the entire process of selling our home. Her dedication to getting our home on the market in a timely manner and with the appropriate information helped us sell our house in only 6 days! She a...
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Christian N.

Christian N.

Lisa helped make our cross country relocation go so smoothly. She handled everything for us expertly and efficiently. She was able to close our escrow so quickly that we were able to move in a mere week after we arrived. She wa...
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Marcie P.

Marcie P.

I'm a top producing residential RealtorĀ® in the Silicon Valley, where homes sell in less than a week, and RealtorsĀ® need the best team available to make it happen quickly. Lisa was my go to stager until she defected to Texas, a...
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