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!

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Katie was wonderful to work with. I interviewed three different agents and ended up hiring Katie and so glad we did! She staged my home, created gorgeous print advertising, supplied handymen to get work done, conducted open houses and my home closed in just over one month at a price we were very happy with. Katie is a true professional and I highly recommend her!

— Pamela Marsh

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Katie is amazing! Professional, caring, knowledgeable, detail oriented, and is always available every step of the way making it a pleasure and stress free! Katie was everything we could have ever asked for in a Realtor!! Thank you Katie for everything!

— Anna + Jeff S.

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
My husband and I recently had a great experience purchasing a condominium in Jupiter Florida. Katie was our realtor and worked very hard for us every step of the way during the process. Her knowledge of the market and the process was incredibly valuable to us. Even when we threw her a couple of curveballs, she handled it professionally and with grace . We would recommend Katie to anyone looking to buy, s...

— Nanci Lewis

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I cannot say enough good things about working with Katie! We have bought several properties previously but nothing has ever gone as smooth as it has with Katie. From start to finish she was on top of everything! We purchased from out of state and heavily relied on Katie’s expertise and experience. She was always willing to view properties for us and always willing to go the extra mile. Her work ethic is ...

— Brian + Jeannine, Jupiter

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
Intensely grateful to Katie and her team for helping me sell my home in Jupiter. Not only was it a seamless transaction, but Katie was able to get me above asking price. I highly recommend!

— Nick Andrews

WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY
I cannot recommend Katie Rawnsley highly enough. I'm excited to have this opportunity to give Katie my strongest professional and personal recommendation. Katie's depth of knowledge, commitment to her clients, intelligence, and honesty put her at the top of her profession. While visiting family in Florida, on a whim, we decided to move down from Virginia to be closer to family. Within days, Katie found u...

— Kristen Puzzo

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

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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.