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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Carla is the most professional broker we have ever used. The photographer she uses for the list is excellent. She was very mindful of our needs when scheduling showings. Carla worked every step of the way from start to finish. Thank you Carla— Donna S.
I would highly recommend Carla. She is an outstanding agent and she advocates on behalf of her clients for the best deal. It was an absolute pleasure working with her.— Aman P.
Carla was referred to me through a co-worker and she was professional and kind from the beginning. Carla always made me feel like her first priority, even when I knew she had many other clients. She was thorough and organized and kept detailed timelines of tasks. Carla always communicated with both myself and the builder with respect and professionalism while ensuring that items were being completed and followed up on. She was fun to be around and she made sure to be at all appointments and walk throughs. Carla demonstrated a warm, social interaction that is often lost in today's technology society and she was always a pleasure to spend time with....— Cassandra O.
I have known Carla as a close friend and colleague at Banyan Biomarkers since 2009; she is one of the most disciplined and organized people I have ever known through my 9-year professional career. Her penchant to constantly deliver high-quality work on a timely basis made her one of the very special people at work. She always made sure to stay extra hours when needed to finish on the same day, rather than waiting for the next; which simply shows her commitment to delivering. She was one of the most friendly faces in our work and always showed a lot of interest in learning new cultures and meeting new people. She is an excellent worker to work in a g...— Deva P.
Carla conducted a comprehensive market analysis for us and was very responsive, well-informed, and professional. She helped us make decisions on property improvements and understand the buying and selling atmosphere in our area. Her work is top-notch, trustworthy, and reflective of a solid understanding of our needs and interests. My husband and I highly recommend her for all these reasons, but especially for her work ethic and personal character. When we are ready to take the next step she will be our first and only call.— Heidi S.
The opportunity to work with Carla has been a pleasure. It is a rare occasion to engage in day-to-day activities with someone who has the spirit of those uncommon individuals who will go out of their way to do a quality job in a detailed, ethical manner and to do it with warmth and style. Carla’s focus goes beyond just trying to get the work completed in a timely manner but with the attitude of what be done to improve operations. The value that Carla brings to any team is invaluable.— Stephen L.
Carla was fantastic. Prior to listing the condo, we worked on getting it ready or should I say Carla did. Recognizing that it was hard for me to meet contractors at the property, she arranged to meet them herself. She communicated all aspects of the presale and closing, keeping me in the loop at all times. My condo sold within 2 weeks of listing. No one likes to pay the Sellers’ commission, but I can say that Carla really earned her portion. Highly recommend.— Sandy C.
Through my experience working with Carla, I have consistently found her to be an enthusiastic and determined individual. Her approach is always courteous and professional as well as attentive. Additionally, Carla is highly detail-oriented and has taken the initiative to nd solutions for a better workplace. Her contribution to IDEA, Inc. has been exceptional; I would strongly recommend her for any position she endeavors.— Bonnie K.
I first met Carla at a professional dog conference and was immediately drawn to her engaging and effervescent personality. Since then we have been in communication on several projects. She is always timely on responses, a great communicator, and very professional. I love that she is an organized individual and has good attention to detail, but most importantly she is a pleasure to work with!— Leslie Z.
I had the pleasure of working with Carla at the University of Florida during her tenure administering the UF Health Contract Team. I know Carla to perform her duties with distinction, as she is well organized, detailed, dependable, and conscientious. Most of all, she is solution-oriented and works hard to eloquently make things happen in a timely manner while communicating well throughout.— Rupa L.
We appreciate all the work Carla put into helping us buy one property and sell another. Her expertise guided us in many decisions and both transactions closed smoothly. She is professional, ethical and kept us informed with each step of the process. And, she was always available to answer questions and relieve our anxieties. We definitely recommend Carla highly and would use her again.— Carole & George T.
Carla is very detail oriented and works well with the personalities and nuances of her Clients. She is also very tenacious and stays on the job until the last i is dotted and the last t is crossed. Carla is one of the most trustworthy people I know. All of her skills combine with an extremely pleasant personality which makes it a pleasure to work with Carla on a daily basis.— Andrea E.
Carla is the sweetest and most genuine person you’ll meet! Talk to her for two minutes and you will see what I mean. I worked with her at UF Pediatrics and she was not only diligent and efficient, but an absolute joy to be around. Even in tough situations, she remained calm, focused, and positive. She is customer service-driven and a true gem in our society.— Cherish M.
I have known Carla for more than 20 years on both a personal and professional level. She strives to make her clients happy. She is friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and very motivated. If there is something she doesn’t know, she stops at nothing to nd out. If you ever get the chance to work with Carla, you won’t ever want to work with anyone else.— Summer J.
I have known Carla professionally for many years. She is bright, charming, and overall a delightful person. She is a pleasure to be in any situation. I am sure she will be as successful in the real estate eld as she was in the health care eld where I first came to know her. I can highly recommend Carla personally and professionally.— Nancy G.
Carla is self-motivated, detail-oriented, and performs her duties with distinction. She is a strategic thought partner who brings creative and elegant solutions to complex business problems. Carla brings value to teams and excels as an individual contributor.— John D.
Carla is one of the most genuinely caring people I have ever met. She is a deep listener, service-centered, and treats people like they are family. She is extremely dependable, trustworthy, and someone who puts client delight at the front of priorities.— Jason G.
Carla and I were MBA classmates and I found her to be very thorough, hardworking and had great attention to detail. If you’re looking for a Realtor®, I am certain she will follow through on everything you are looking for and deliver great results.— Doug M.
I have known Carla for several years. She is a consummate professional in all aspects of her business dealings. I have great faith and trust in her ability to handle real estate transactions superbly as she has with every endeavor she undertakes.— Sherri M.
Carla is great to work with; a real people person and knows her stuff. She is very detailed and organized. I personally enjoyed working with Carla and would recommend her to anyone looking to add an extraordinary member to their team.— Kenn H.
As one of my direct supervisors, Carla is a model to look up to and admire. She is always professional, detail-oriented, and a productive worker. She encourages me professionally and personally.— Priscilla F.
Carla is a detail-oriented and focused manager who has a strong work ethic. She offers value-added solutions to strategic decisions. I believe Carla would be a valuable addition to any team.— Amelie M.
Carla is exceedingly kind, courteous, and always professional. I would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone!— C. Brower
I would describe my experience with Tammy as nothing but professional. She was easy to get a hold of, started immediately and followed through with every detail of my home purchase. Tammy was extremely responsive and diligent in exchanging information about the listing, communicating with me about the status of her efforts, and coordinating the final transaction. She made the process stress free and I would definitely recommend her to anyone who needs a realtor.— Kelly L.
We enjoy creating positive atmospheres, warm environments, and working to foster a sense of peace and harmony in both the outcome and process of selling and buying real estate.