There are not many things as excited as buying your first home.  It may seem complicated at first.  But if you dream of homeownership it is important to know what to do and who to turn to. It really is not as scary as it seems.  Follow the steps below and you will be well on your way! 

Whether this is your first time purchasing a home or you're a repeat buyer, buying a home is a financial and emotional decision that requires the help of an experienced team of reliable professionals.  These folks know what it takes to get you from the beginning process to the closing table.  So lean on them.  That is what they are there for.

First time home buyer holding keys

Find A Realtor.  

A Realtor will do a lot of the groundwork up front.  They will contact the listing agent to schedule the appointments for you to see the homes.  Your Realtor will guide you through the home buying process, such as the paperwork, marketing, pricing, negotiating, and inspections.  A Realtor will help keep you within the timeframes within the contract. The best part is Buyers do not pay for the working with a Realtor.  The service is free for the buyer as the seller pays all of the real estate commission.  It makes sense to use a Realtor in your local area to help you will the home buying process.

Find a Lender and Get a Mortgage Pre-approval.  

Many Realtors will not spend time with clients who haven't spoken with a lender about getting pre-approved.  It is best to clarify how much you are able to spend on your home before setting appointments and looking at homes.  It is best be pre-approved so when you find the perfect home, you are ready to write an offer.  When an offer is presented to sellers they want to see that the person who is interested in purchasing their house is pre-approved with a lender and can close on their house.  It is best to compare the fees charged by the lender and compare.  Compare the fees and the interest rates.  You will want to know you are getting the best deal for yourself.  If you need a list of lenders, most real estate agent will provide you will a list of lenders they have worked with. Just ask them for it. 

Make a Wish List.

When making a wish list, be sure to add the things in a home that is most important to you.  Location?  Do you have a neighborhood that you want to live in?  How many bedrooms do you need?  How many baths?  Is square footage important to you?  Do you need an office?  Does the size of the yard something you need to consider?  Do you need to live in a certain school zone?  Once you have your "MUST HAVES", you could then list things you wish were in your new home.  Just know that the more you add to the list, the more limits you have.  The more you have, the less homes will come up in the MLS search.  Decide on what you can be flexible on, if there are any.  Your Realtor will want a list of the things that are most important to you.  Be prepared to tell them.

Look At Homes.

Now comes the really fun part.  Let's schedule appointments to go view the homes that are within your parameters. You will want to bring along a notepad to jot down your thoughts as you walk through the homes on your short list.  What are the things that you really like about the house and things you don't care for.  Can you see yourself living there?  You will want to go back over your notes once you have seen the homes on the list to see.  What house is your favorite?  Why? Which one meets the most needs?  Is the home in a desirable school zone?  Even if you don't have children you will still want to consider this. When it comes time to sell, you'll find that a strong, desirable school system is a major advantage in helping your home retain or gain value.  

Make Offer.

Once you have made a decision on which home best fits your needs, you will want to move quickly.  Your Realtor can walk you through the steps required to make an offer in your area.  Your Realtor can pull up three house that sold most recently in the neighborhood.  They can compare the homes and guide you will making your offer.  If you really want the house, don't lowball.  The seller could get really frustrated and give up.  Remember your leverage depends on the pace of the market. In a slower market you have a chance of negotiating more.  In a seller's market you will need to be a little more cautious.

Be prepared with earnest money. This is really a deposit showing the seller you are serious about purchasing their house.  The earnest money will be applied to your down payment at closing.  It will be held in escrow with the closing agent or closing attorney until closing.  

Enter A Contract.

Make sure the contract is contingent upon you obtaining your financing, a statement covering the home inspection repairs.  You will want to be able to get your earnest money returned to you if anything major is found during the home inspection. You will also want to make sure the contract covers a walk through within 24-hour prior to the closing.  Once the negotiations are done on the offer and all of the signatures and initials are on it you then have a contract.  

Secure the Mortgage.

When your agent tells you you are under contract make sure you do your due diligence in obtaining your mortgage.  Follow up with your lender and get them all of the documents they need.  Expect the lender to ask for things throughout the process.  To keep things moving along smooth toward closing when the lender asks for something get them what they needs as soon as possible.  Taking a longer time will only delay the closing.

Be Sure to have an home inspection done.

Be prepared. You will want to have a home inspection done by a licensed home inspector.  They will go through the home and inspect everything.  If there is a leaking roof the inspection will find it. They will even check all of the electrical plug.  Once the inspector has completed their inspection they will prepare a report to let you know the condition of the home.  They will list repairs they recommend to be repaired.  Depending how your contract is writing, you might be able to ask the seller to make some of those repairs. Your Realtor will be able to advise you on this.  When you do your walk through prior to closing you will want to make sure the seller made the repairs you requested of them to do.

Get Insurance.

You will want to get insurance quotes from different insurance companies and compare the coverage.  A lot of Realtors will offer to get several quotes for you to help you get the best insurance for the best price.  Once you choose your insurance company and coverage you will want to let your lender know.


Usually about three days prior to closing you will receive a closing statement from you lender.  This closing statement will list all of the charges you are expected to pay at closing.  Review it carefully.  It will include things like the cost of Title Insurance.  This will protect you and the lender from claims from anyone regarding ownership of your property. The cost of title insurance is usually less than 1% of the purchase price.  

Once all of the above steps have been completed you are on your way to the closing table.  This is when the deed to the home is transferred from the seller to the buyer.  Be prepared to sign a lot of paperwork.  The closing agent will guide you through the process.  This is the most excited time of buying a home.  This is the day you will officially become a homeowner and receive the keys to your new home. Congratulations!

What's Next?

You are now a new homeowner.  Enjoy making many, many wonderful lifetime memories in your new home!

Your Northwest FL Real Estate Professional

If you are a first-time home buyer looking to buy in Northwest Florida, Myself, along with a lender and a closing agent have a First Time Home Buyer Seminar that we hold every other month. We would love to have you come. We also have a Facebook group that will provide you with additional information about the home buying process. We do post and update everyone on the First Time Home Buyer Seminars in this group. You can find the Facebook group HERE! If you want to sit down and talk about buying your first home, call me at (850) 377-4410 I would love to help.

I am well versed in all types of residential real estate and can help guide you through the offer process on any home in Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties in FL.

Make sure to visit to get the latest buyer and seller news as well as detailed market reports for each community in Northwest FL. As always, I look forward to serving your Northwest Floria real estate needs! Call, email, or text if I can help in any way.

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Anita Allen
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
Licensed In: Florida
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