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.

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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.

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Step 2: Decide on Your Budget

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.

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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.

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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 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. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where my expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let me show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

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: Find the Right Home

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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I had the pleasure of working alongside Natasha this summer. She cares so much about her clients and we had a very smooth closing.

— Joe T.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
We were impressed with Natasha when she helped us find our home in 2016. When it came time to sell that house and find a smaller one, Natasha was the first call I made.

— Seller

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Natasha had to step in to handle our home purchase when our selling agent was compelled to go out of town for a few weeks. She stepped into the situation as if she'd known us for years, and worked very hard to find us a home that worked well for us!

— Buyer

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Natasha Cejudo is extremely personable as well as professional and responsive. She is very attentive to the little details that make a transaction go smoothly. Looking at listings was easy, fun, and without pressure. When we moved on to a deal, she handled everything flawlessly. Terrific REALTOR!

— Jeanne F.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I envy Natasha's communication with her clients. Everyone always says that communication is fundamental to being a good REALTOR but anyone who suggests that delivering superior communication is easy is a fool. It's extremely challenging to be fully attentive, concise, and constantly available and Natasha delivers as well as anyone I know.

— Buyer | Seller

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Natasha is a very knowledgeable and professional REALTOR, but what was most impressive about her is her honesty and patience; I never felt she had anything but my best interests at heart. She was candid about the process and we never felt pressured by her. She guided us through a very competitive market with insight and good humor and eventually, we found the home that was right for us. I would recommend...

— Buyer

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Coming from out-of-state it was important that we find a buyer's agent with solid local knowledge. We initially hired Natasha based on her deep familiarity with the area, but we were soon impressed by her professionalism and knowledge of the specific market dynamics in the neighborhoods of interest that we identified. Throughout the process, it was very clear that she always had our best interests in min...

— Buyer

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
A magnificent REALTOR! Natasha listened and understood what I was looking for, the kind of lifestyle I wanted. She was patient as I worked my way through various neighborhoods and home layouts, and gently guided me to the Ideal-for-Me house. She educated and guided me to financing and other resources. She made herself available the days I was in town; she promptly notified me when new/likely properties c...

— Buyer

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
We were impressed with Natasha when she helped us find our home in 2016. When it came time to sell that house and find a smaller one, Natasha was the first call I made. During the hunt for a new home, Natasha was amazing at only showing me homes that would be perfect, she's an amazing screener! I was in the hospital when it came time to sell our old home, and Natasha filled in and picked up the slack, an...

— Buyer & Seller

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
It was a pleasure to work with Natasha, she was charming, caring both to us and to the house owners, and patient- we must have looked at 50+ houses and she never seemed to mind. We were coming in from out of town and knew nothing of the area, she helped us check out each neighborhood and localize our preferences with lots of information but never pushed us in any direction in particular just what we need...

— Heather R.

Work With Natasha

Natasha prides herself on an honest, transparent, and comprehensive approach based on mutual understanding and clear communication. She is patient, insightful, attentive, and responsive; her professionalism, humor, and candid approach make her a joy to work with. If you are considering a move this year or next, she would welcome a conversation with you!