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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sierra, My family and I would like to thank you from the bottom of our heart for an absolutely fantastic and memorable new home purchase experience from start to finish. Your enormously friendly and warm disposition not only instantaneously dispelled our "REALTOR jitters" on our very first meeting but also lifted our spirits and relieved our anxiety around the daunting process of home purchase from a builder. You were super responsive to our requests and went the extra mile each time - like the time when we couldn't check out a property and you made a video tour and sent us. I and my wife truly appreciated your persistent try for getting the devel...— Muhammad and Fatima
Buying or selling home can be one of the most stressful situations anyone can encounter. We had the privilege of having Sierra skillfully navigate this challenge and have nothing but wonderful things to say about her. Sierra guided us from start to finish, represented our home in its best light and quickly found a buyer. In our case, she represented both and I can say we truly feel she had all of our best interests in mind. I have and will continue to refer people to her and give her high praise. In a sea of options, Sierra is amongst the best.— Kim Channey
We had the pleasure of working with Sierra over the past few years as we searched for our "forever" home. Sierra was amazing to work with, both on the selling and buying side. She was always available to see any and all homes we were interested in, even if we asked to see them within a few hours. Sierra was flexible and responsive to our needs (which changed over the course of the two years we worked with her). When the time came, she expertly negotiated the purchase of our new home; she made sure we got the house we loved. Sierra also sold our previous home, for over-asking, in two days. She was a tough negotiator and always put our needs first. ...— Jennifer Hofmeister
My partner and I recently bought our first home in Ann Arbor and had the pleasure of working with Sierra. She went above and beyond with us during every step of the process, and we recommend her highly. Since we were living out of town, and our work schedules made it challenging to come to Ann Arbor in person multiple times, she enthusiastically toured many places with us, both in person when we were able to visit and virtually, giving us thorough walkthroughs of several properties via FaceTime or What's App. After meeting her in person and seeing the way she works, her integrity, and her no-nonsense attitude, we knew we could trust her input, esp...— Sivan Kassiff
We both bought a new home and sold our current home with Sierra. One of Sierra's many notable attributes as an agent is that she is an incredible communicator and works nonstop for her clients- answering emails, texts and phone calls far past regular business hours and all weekend (which is impressive in normal times, but truly incredible during a pandemic while balancing all the roles!). We went into the process not knowing exactly what we wanted (or at least what my spouse and I could both agree on), and after guiding us through 30 viewings, submitting 4 offers- we finally found our perfect home (that we wouldn't have known was our perfect home ...— Sasha Zhou
Recent Close Sales
Million Total Value
Sierra’s caring, empathetic, and charismatic personality, along with her Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling sets her miles ahead of her competition. She naturally connects with people and has a knack for quickly learning what people want and knowing how to help find it for them. Sierra truly looks forward to serving you in your future real estate endeavors.