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.

main

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.

main

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.

main

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.

main

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

main

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.

main

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.

main

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.

main

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.

main

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.

main

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.

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael sells properties fast – selling more than 50% quicker than the average Charlotte agent!

— Seller

TESTIMONIALS
You are experienced and resourceful, and we would not have pulled this off without your guidance every step of the way.

— Jennifer

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael Dunnavant is a great Realtor® who listens to her client's needs, gives sound advice, and goes that extra mile for her clients.

— Elizabeth

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael was amazing from first contact to the final sale of the house in under 30 days. She was knowledgeable, and available, and saved us much in negotiations. We will continue to work with Rachael and hope others do too.

— Stephanie B.

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael was always accessible and always gave us her best advice. She is very upbeat and was easy to talk to, and helped us to understand our options at each step of the process. She is very experienced in our market and we would certainly use her again in the future.

— Bill C.

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael was great. She was very knowledgeable and did a great job of helping us find something we really liked. She was an excellent negotiator and made us feel very comfortable throughout the process. I would highly recommend Rachael she knows her stuff very well and has her client's back!

— Buyer

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael is the utmost professional. We have worked with her for 2 years. She has been patient as we decided on whether to buy a renovated home or build a custom home. She has such a broad network, that she was able to refer us to a custom builder and an available lot. She always put our wishes first!

— Grass Family

TESTIMONIALS
I have worked with Rachael for several years and she has been instrumental in helping me find and purchase 3 homes. Her knowledge of the market is unparalleled, and she goes above and beyond to make sure that you find the right property for your needs. You can tell she truly enjoys what she does and loves helping others.

— Ian W.

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael is an outstanding Realtor® that has the patience to guide first-time home-buyers seamlessly through the process while also providing her honest opinion when called upon. I always felt as though I was her first priority and she was always available around the clock to discuss any issue or question that may have arisen. Her broad network and the focused team around her are easily among Charlotte’s ...

— Larkin F.

TESTIMONIALS
Rachael and her team were absolutely wonderful to work with, and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a Realtor® in Charlotte. We worked with Rachael when we sold our uptown condo and bought our first house several years ago and then again more recently when we decided we wanted to move out of state to be closer to family. She has so much experience and tons of knowledge and practical advice. She...

— Alison

Work With Rachael

Rachael’s number one goal is to always act in her client’s best interest, while always keeping the big picture in mind. In order to find the perfect home for her clients she has had success in knocking on doors, writing letters, and making phone calls. She does whatever it takes.