Buyer's Guide

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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. 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.

My goal is to provide you with the most personalized service that is designed to help you buy your dream home.

Schedule A Consultation
main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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. 

My Testimonials

See why my clients love working with me.

J

James | Buyer Review

Andrea and Mark McCracken were ideal in representing us through our home search and purchase. Andrea at all times displayed a graceful, earnest, patient, empathetic, and comfortable manner about her, at all times striking the p...
Read More

J

Jack | Seller Review

We worked with Mark and Andrea McCracken recently and it was a tremendous experience. The McCracken's were professional, consultative, and informative, they were also really patient with us when it came time to make a decision....
Read More

F

Frances S. | Buyer Review

Andrea, with some help from her terrific husband, Mark, just helped my partner and me buy a house in Hollyglen I've worked with a number of Real Estate agents over the years, and I can honestly say that Andrea was just amazing....
Read More

A

Adele F.

We were very impressed with Andrea when we first met with her. She sat down with my husband and me and listened to what we wanted. She listened to how much we wanted to spend, what size condo we wanted, and the location that we...
Read More

E

Emily

Proactive and personable. My husband and I reached out to Andrea on a whim to purchase a property contingent to ours that had not yet been listed. From that first call, she provided us with exemplary service. I have met and wor...
Read More

S

Sam E.

I highly recommend Andrea McCracken. She made the entire buying process much less stressful than it could have been. Andrea was very responsive and worked hard to make sure that the sale went through without a hitch. She is pro...
Read More

J

Jacqueline

It has been a great pleasure working with Ms. Andrea. I met her while visiting an. After viewing many homes for the day and meeting more than 10 agents that day, she is the one who was most responsive, very knowledgeable of the...
Read More

C

Christine A.

Mark McCracken was incredibly helpful during our first home-buying experience. He helped navigate each step of the way and was responsive to our many questions. His confidence and composure throughout the home-buying and escrow...
Read More

N

Nick

Andrea was fantastic to work with, especially as a first-time buyer. She skillfully led us through the entire process from basic education, searching for the right area and property, negotiating offers, and completing the final...
Read More

S

Sachin | Buyer

Mark and Andrea are committed to building a long-term relationship and are there for you long after the sale is closed. I had some challenges with the appliances at my apartment. They helped me navigate interactions with the ap...
Read More

H

Harvey

We have bought and sold homes over the last 41 years and by far Mark and Andrea provided us with the most professional treatment over any of our previous transactions. We were delighted with both the amount of time it took to s...
Read More

M

Meg

From beginning to end, Andrea and Mark were wonderful to work with! We were moving out of state and had some tight deadlines to meet. They were there with us every step of the way, making sure everything (big or small) was take...
Read More

M

MK

Andrea is fantastic! Buying a house is a stressful time and she managed us and the sale with great professionalism. She will always have your best interest in mind as she advises you through the process. She knows the market, t...
Read More

C

Courtney

Andrea and Mark are extremely responsive and attentive. They went the extra mile in getting us top dollar when selling our home and in finding us our next one! They took the time to listen to our concerns and provided a lot of ...
Read More

B

Brenda

Andrea helped us buy our first home and was honest and straightforward from the beginning. She truly had our best interest at heart and went above and beyond for us. She is reliable, trustworthy, and flexible. We are very happy...
Read More

P

Phil K.

Want to share with all of you what a pleasure it was to work with Andrea. Her knowledge and patience were exactly what we needed while we shopped for a second home. She was there every step of the way through escrow. She is a t...
Read More

H

Heather D.

Andrea and Mark are incredible to work with, they can sell our house anytime. Andrea made this such an easy process. We sold our house in 3 days. The McCracken Group is amazing. Andrea made our home buying and selling experien...
Read More

E

Eric W. - Seller

Andrea and Mark sold my home quickly for a good price. They were very professional and paid attention to every detail. I highly recommend them as real state agents. They are both very personable and honest.
Read More

Work With Us

At The McCracken Group, we know that buying or selling a home is a very personal event - often a family affair. Our mission is to make the experience as pleasant, friendly and efficient as possible. We speak up for and act on what’s right for our client in every aspect of the real estate transaction.

Follow Us on Instagram