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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.


Step 1: Decide on Your Budget

Start with your credit report. Do not skip this step. You should know exactly where you stand as most lenders and loan programs have minimum requirements that must be met. Create a budget , a financial plan that helps track and control your spending and allows you to save money. Save for a down payment and for closing costs, expect to pay between 3-5% of the purchase price. These costs are incurred to facilitate the purchase transaction and include lender fees, title fees, recording fees, etc.


Step 2: Get a Pre Approval

Just because you think you can afford a certain payment every month doesn’t mean the mortgage company will agree. 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 be approve for. A pre-approval is not a commitment to lend; it is simply how much your lender is willing to lend to you - pending forthcoming details, such as the value of the home and the specifics of your loan. It allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.


Step 3: 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, I also have a knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. I will handle negotiations with the seller /seller's agent, when you're ready to put an offer on a home.


Step 4: Search and Find the Right Home

Before you begin looking for a home, talk with your real estate agent about what you want in a home, why you want to buy and where you'd like to live. If you want a condo, co-op, townhome, or single- family home?

Now is the time to start researching. 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.

My Goal Is to Provide You With the Most Personalized Service That Is Designed to Help You Buy Your Dream Home

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Step 5: 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. After both parties reach out an aggrement, it's time to sign the contract.


Step 6: Sign the Contract

All property transactions in New York City require a real estate attorney. I can assist you in finding experienced attorneys. Once negotiations are complete, the seller’s attorney will begin preparing a contract of sale during which time your attorney will begin his/her due diligence. Your attorney will review the contract, read the co-op or condo’s financial statements and by-laws, review the building’s offering plan, read the board meeting minutes, etc.
Once your attorney feels comfortable with his/her findings, you will be invited to sign the contract and submit a deposit of 10% of the purchase price. The contract is then forwarded to the seller for signature. The 10% deposit is held in the seller’s attorney’s escrow account until closing.


Step 7: Have the Home Inspected

Once your offer is accepted, the next step is to get the home inspected. The inspection is not a requirement , if you buy a co-op or condominium, but is highly advised when you are purchasing a townhouse, as it protects you from underlying issues with the home that you can't detect.

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.


Step 8: Select Your Loan

Now is the time to go back to the mortgage lender who pre-approved you and choose your mortgage. You still need to take a few additional steps to officially submit the mortgage application. If you decide to apply for your loan with the same lender that did your pre-approval, they already have some of the documents you’ll need for your application. Likely, you’ll need to provide updated financial statements. If you decide to move forward with another lender, they will tell you the list of documents needed to complete your application.. 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: Complete the Board Package

While co-op and condo packages look similar, the process is quite different. For co-ops, once your package is submitted, the Board will review your application. If your application meets initial approval, you will be invited to be interviewed by the Board or by an interviewing committee. This can sometimes take time to schedule; some buildings move more quickly than others. In the case of a condominium, there is generally no formal interview. Your application will be reviewed, and if all required materials are included and in order, an approval is typically granted. The entire process can move quickly in a condominium, and assuming a loan can be secured in a timely
fashion, the process can move from contract to closing in about 60 days.


Step 11: Final Walk Through

You should do a final walkthrough in your new home before you close, even if you’re 100% committed to the property. This time allows you to ensure that the seller has made any agreed upon repairs and has cleared out the property. You should also double-check the home's systems one last time to ensure they are in working order. If everything looks good, it’s time for you to confidently move toward closing.


Step 12: Closing

Buyer and seller attorneys coordinate with the appropriate banks (if you financing) on available dates and times. After closing, you’ve officially purchased your new home. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE A HOMEOWNER!


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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Alexandrea R.

Alexandrea R.

Marga is diligent, professional, patient, and personable as a buyer's agent, she made the home search process pain-free. She was very attentive to my asks, strategic in finding high-quality options (and scheduling viewings!) in...
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My main goal is to help my clients and make the process of buying, selling or investing a pleasurable one for everyone.

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