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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Rog and Liz are the best realtors! They have now sold two of my homes and I’ve never had such good experiences with both of them. They met my needs plus more!

— Natalie D.

Peter was amazing! Our house hunt or sale ran into various snags (as all seem to do!) and Peter guided us through each one. He was supportive, optimistic, connected, and expert. We never would have landed in our beautiful new home without him!

— Angela M.

Peter and Jason were amazing to work with. Even with unique circumstances in finding my home, they were able to get everything processed quickly and painlessly. They did not push anything and gave me good information that I could trust. I will recommend them to everyone I know who's looking to buy a house.

— Spencer A.

Jason was an incredible asset in our home-buying process and continues to provide ongoing friendship and support. We felt extremely confident working with him, as his market knowledge and expertise were very apparent. Jason and his team were on the ball throughout the entire process. I’d recommend working with Jason and the Peter Morkel group to anyone!

— Nathan V.

Josh was my agent and let me tell you he was very helpful. I had a lot of questions being a first-time homebuyer and Josh had so much information and helped you every step of the way. He really does everything he can to help and really let you know the situation. I couldn’t have asked for a better advocate.

— Hayden A.

We love this real estate group! Scott Heaton and other members of Peter Morkel Real Estate have been really amazing in helping us purchase our first home. Scott has answered all of our questions and has been there for us every step of the way when searching for our home. I highly recommend this amazing real estate team to anyone wanting to buy or sell a home!

— Amanda H.

Kim and the team at Peter Morkel Real Estate are amazing. Kim was so attentive to us, and we felt she was committed to selling and finding the perfect home for us. The sale of our home as well as the purchase of our new home was seamless. I wouldn’t have wanted any other realtor. Kim is professional and knowledgeable. If we ever had a question she had the answer. We loved working with Kim and the Peter M...

— Karlyn B.

Peter Morkel is an ideal realtor. He is knowledgeable about the area and well-experienced in the market. He helped us buy our first home and was patient with our many questions as we navigated the home-buying process. He was adept at hearing our needs as well as preferences which led us to the perfect home for us. He truly works for the interest of his clients and took us to as many homes as we needed to...

— Buyer

We didn’t actually hire Peter, he was the Seller’s agent for the home we recently bought. A couple of weeks after we bought our home, it started flooding sewage. Our insurance wouldn’t cover it, and our agent and broker wouldn’t do anything. We felt pretty hopeless and upset. Peter was the only one who tried to help us. He helped explain things to us, called our insurance company on our behalf, was a gre...

— Hillary W.

We feel very lucky to have been referred to Peter Morkel. From the very first time we met him, he has treated us more like friends than clients. Peter always went above and beyond what we expected. He is very knowledgeable in his profession. We most likely wouldn't have gotten our house if it were not for his expertise. When we were considering building, he was knowledgeable about new construction and kn...

— Brandon B.

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