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.

I can't say enough good things about my experience with Michael Rowland. When my wife and I decided it was time to sell our old house in order to get a little more space, we knew exactly who we would call. I had known Mike for years and his experience in the mortgage world as well as real estate made him an obvious choice. Mike and I went back and forth for 2 or 3 months just discussing what my wife and ...

— Lee B.

I bought my first home with Michael. Back in 2019, I had just moved to the area to check in with my new command. One of my work buddies recommended his agent, which ultimately led to me meeting and working with Michael. Considering I had no familiarity with the area or with buying a house, he made the entire experience about as smooth as could be. He set up multiple properties to view that lined up with ...

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Working with Michael Rowland continues to be what real estate dreams are made of. I sold a home with him over a year ago and the experience was top-notch. He went above and beyond any expectations I had for a REALTOR®. He arranged for beautifully flattering photos to be taken and my house was listed within a week. He did everything possible to make showings convenient for me, even offering to walk my Gol...

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I’ve known Mike for years, we’ve worked on many projects together and he’s helped me countless times. When my wife and I decided to sell our house and jump on the market it was a simple decision on who we would trust. We decided to jump into the market at the last minute with no heads-up. Mike didn’t hesitate to pick the ball up and run with it. Like any real estate transaction, there were plenty of ups,...

— Seller

Michael is easily one of the most easy-going, down-to-earth people to ever work with. We fully put our trust in him to not find us a house but a home, our first home. He took everything we wanted and found it for us. He was very knowledgeable and walked us through this difficult and stressful process and made it a complete ease. Definitely a top-notch guy and would highly recommend him to anyone looking ...

— Darrin W.

Purchasing a home in 2020 saw a myriad of challenges. None of which could have been predicted, like the seller's market, due to historically low-interest rates. This led to several months of losing homes immediately after viewing them (my personal fault for refusing to enter a bidding war for the above asking). Michael was optimistic going forward each day looking at new listings and driving out immediat...

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Working with Mike is always the right decision. We weren’t even looking for a house but happened to see a listing we loved, called him right away and we were off and running. He was right there with us for every twist and turn in the home-buying process as if it was his own home on the line. His knowledge and experience in the business got us our dream house, with an offer contingent on ours, something t...

— Ashley B.

We bought our house in 2020 with the help of Michael! We were stationed in Virginia and Mike was a huge help in finding us a home we love. He would video chat with us while doing home walkthroughs since we could not be here all the time. He is very attentive and knowledgeable about the area. He made the home-buying process quick and smooth! And he still keeps in touch with us as well!

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Michael was very helpful in selling our old home and purchase of our new one. He was quick to return calls, texts, and emails. We could not have asked for a better agent in going through this very overwhelming process. Mike had all of the answers to our questions and was very patient as we changed our minds almost every day. Would recommend and use it again, every time!

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Working with Michael made our home-buying experience so easy and painless. He’s a class act you can count on to go above and beyond for his clients.

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