A Step-by-Step 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 buyers' 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. 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

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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 closing paperwork to complete the purchase, and providing all the funds to your title company, you are now the owner of a new house and you will receive your keys!

Ken and Lisa M., North Palm Beach
Maria + Chad D., Avenir
Bob D., Jupiter
Daniel E.
Aaron C., North Palm Beach
Jaime T., Palm Beach Gardens
WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY

We had a great experience working with Katie Rawnsley. Throughout the process, she consistently demonstrated professionalism, knowledge, and excellent communication skills. One standout quality of Katie is her ability to maintain a sense of calm, especially during moments of tension. Her composed demeanor helped navigate through any challenges that arose, making the entire process much smoother. Her expe...

— Ken and Lisa M., North Palm Beach

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY

Katie was by far the most attentive, considerate, professional, honest, and meticulous agent we have used! She made every step of the way seem effortless for us and found us our dream home in no time! Katie can lend expertise is every part of the process including staging, negotiating, and ensuring closing goes smoothly. Thank you again for everything.

— Maria + Chad D., Avenir

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY

As a residential real estate developer for over 40 years, I have dealt with a slew of real estate agents. Katie is among the best of the best in her profession. She relies on good old-fashioned footwork and networking to separate herself from the pack, and it shows in the results. She introduced us to 4-5 off-market or pre-market homes during our search, one of which we eventually bought. It’s the little...

— Bob D., Jupiter

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY

Katie is an excellent realtor. I have been buying/selling properties for many years and Katie has been the most professional and hardest working realtor I have ever worked with - and by a long shot. Apart from the usual listing of the property she spent precious time staging the property to enhance the buying experience of any buyers so they could visualize the property as their own. Then apart from that...

— Daniel E.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY

For starters, I am generally not a fan of most real estate agents. Katie is the exception. I have worked with Katie on multiple real estate transactions involving myself, friends, family, and all sides of closing transactions. She never disappoints. She is very down-to-earth and easy to talk to. She knows what to do to get deals done without feeling pushy or difficult. Even when faced with obstacles that...

— Aaron C., North Palm Beach

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY

Katie is a true professional and is always willing to go above and beyond to help me with my real estate needs! I have bought several rental properties with her and most recently she helped me close on my new home! She made the process smooth and efficient and is always available for my questions when they arise. She is a great resource when it comes to home improvements, as well as the resources for con...

— Jaime T., Palm Beach Gardens

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAVE THE PROPERTIES THAT YOU'RE INTERESTED IN AND GET STARTED ON A PERSONALIZED SEARCH?

Work With Me

When you work with me, you can expect the highest level of professionalism, quality advice, compassion, and expert guidance. Contact me now to get started with your journey.