First Time Home Buyer
Buying your first home can be a very stressful, challenging process…but also the most rewarding! There are a few steps you will need to take to get your home buying process to run smoothly and how our team of real estate professionals can help you.
10 Steps to Buying Your First Home
Step 1: Do Your Research
The home buying process can seem daunting, so to make your process easier it is best to begin with research. Research doesn’t have to mean reading through lengthy articles and watching videos of the area. Research will be more useful to you by going to local restaurants, schools and speaking to current residents to learn which area you feel you would fit in best. Learn about the different local communities by reading our community and area guides of popular areas such as: Augusta, Martinez, Evans or Grovetown. During this process, you should also begin step 2, finding your real estate agent.
Step 2: Finding A Real Estate Agent
During your research, you may realize you need a local expert on the housing market to see if that neighborhood is truly right for you. This step is crucial because you want an agent that is a neighborhood expert. Getting an agent that is experienced in that area and neighborhood will help you find your dream home for a price in your price range. They will also be there to walk you through presenting an offer to the seller and represent you until the closing day. Did we mention all of the agent’s services are at no cost to you? The agent will get paid off of the commission of the sale price of the home, so you – as a homebuyer – don’t have to incur the cost! Meet our team of real estate agents to see which one can help you find your future home. Once you find your agent you would like to work with, they will send you to our vendor to get pre-qualified.
Step 3: Get Pre-Qualified to See how much House you can Afford
After step two, our agent will send you to our local lender. The lender will ask you for different documents similar to other large purchases you have made (like a vehicle). These documents are required to show your proof of income, credit score and your general financial standing so the lender can determine which loan options you may qualify for. Basically, after reviewing the documents, the lender is going to send you a letter saying you can (as in you are qualified to) buy a house for X amount. Doing this will save you time during your home buying process because you will know which houses are in your price range. This will also allow you to figure out how much you are willing to spend on the house itself and how much you are willing to spend on move-in expenses such as remodeling and renovating.
Step 4: The Home Search – How to Pick the Right Home for your Needs
While this part may seem the most fun (hey, who doesn’t like living like they are in an HGTV show?), it is also important to be realistic with yourself and your budget. With a first time home buyer’s budget, you are more than likely not going to find your dream home, but you may find a home with 70% of all your wants and needs so you settle for that instead. Also, keep in mind that the home may not look “move-in ready” while you walk through it from small details such as old decor, worn-out painting on the walls and older kitchen appliances so you’ll have to keep your eyes on the end goal of what your home could look like once you make the purchase and fix the little details later. While you’re at the homes, go with the agent (or alone) to the neighbors and see what they love or hate about the neighborhood (you don’t want to deal with barking dogs if you’ve got small children, after all). Our blog has other features you should look for when home shopping because this is only the tip of the iceberg! If you are already in this step, check out all our homes for sale in Augusta, GA, and surrounding areas.
Step 5: Going into Escrow – What does it mean?
After you found the house you want, your agent will put in a offer. For example, if there is a home for $200,000 for sale and you want to pay less because you know it will need a new roof. So, your agent will submit an offer to the seller’s real estate agent but go lower towards $180,000 to make up for the future cost of the roof you will incur. Having an agent is invaluable at this step because the buyer’s (your) agent and the seller’s agent will negotiate terms that both you and the seller agree with. When both parties agree on the price, the house will go into escrow. When a house goes into escrow, a third party is going to hold on to something of value until the transaction is complete.
Step 6: The Home Inspection – How does it work?
Usually, a few days after your offer is accepted, one of our agents will schedule our preferred home inspector to go to the seller’s house to inspect for any potential damage that is not visible to the eye during a showing or was not mentioned in the property disclosure. The report will review the condition of the home’s heating system, central air conditioning system, interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation basement, and visible structure. Many inspectors will also offer additional services not included in a typical home inspection, such as mold, radon and water testing. The report will tell you of all potential problems, or contingencies, and allow you to either renegotiate the offer or withdraw it without penalty if there is significant material damage. If the home does have problems, which it probably will because all homes (even new construction) have problems, solutions vary from a simple fix of the component to adjusting the purchase price. Have a home inspection allows the problem to be addressed before the sale closes. First time home buyers usually ask if they can attend a home inspection, and the answer is yes! It is often helpful to be there so the home inspector can explain in person and answer any questions you may have. This is an excellent way to learn about your new home even if no problems are found. But be sure to give the home inspector time and space to concentrate and focus so he can do the best job possible for you. Once all negotiations have been worked out for what the seller will and will not pay to fix, you select your loan and payment options.
Step 7: Select which Mortgage Loan is Right for you
There are plenty of loan options out there from a national level (like FHA) to a small-scale credit union level that creates their own terms of payment. Usually, you are going to go with a fixed 15-or-20 year option because this can help you lock in a low rate. Really, the only expensive part about buying a home is the down payment. Usually, a 20% down payment will help you receive monthly lower rates, but there are other options that allow lower down payments, such as the 3.5% down with the FHA loan. Use our mortgage calculator to get an estimate of how much your monthly payments could be based on your down payment. If you are interested in learning more about the different types of mortgages, check out our mortgage overview page for a brief summary of all the mortgage options available. Overall, you should set up your loan to allow yourself to build equity within the home so you do not owe more than it is actually worth if you need to sell before the 15-or-20 period. Our lender will be able to guide you to which loan will best fit your needs.
*Don’t forget to check out our military discounts if you are a member of the armed services.
Step 8: Get your Future Home Appraised so you Get what you Pay For
After all the payment arrangements are set in place between you and the mortgage lender, the lender will send an appraiser to appraise the home. Basically, the appraiser will say how much the home is worth so you, your agent and your lender know whether or not you are paying a fair price.
Step 9: So. Much. Paperwork
To no surprise, buying a home actually requires lots of paperwork. But don’t worry! That’s what your realtor is for. They will handle all the paperwork for you and follow up with the title company to make sure you become the owner of the home.
Step 10: Closing Day – the Day the Home Becomes yours!
The paperwork mentioned previously in step 9, well, you actually sign it all on your closing day in step 10! You will go to the attorney’s office and sign your loan documents and verify that you want to own this home. After you sign, the paperwork goes to processing for a few days and once the check goes to the seller, the home is now yours! If you need help moving all of your belongings, we offer junk removal services to help make your move go smoother!
If you would like more information on the homebuying process, please fill out our form and one of our agents will reach out to you or message us in our live chat and someone will get back with you shortly. We look forward to helping you make your next big move!