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.

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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. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where my expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let me show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

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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 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. 

Testimonials

Kevin C.

Kevin C.

I've worked with Michele on 2 purchases and she has been great. Very detailed and always available, and goes out of her way to help. Highly recommend.
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Debby S.

Debby S.

Michele Salyer is a great resource when looking for a home. Michele is very professional, extremely knowledgeable, and truly innovative when helping you find the perfect home!
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Dr. Pauline F.

Dr. Pauline F.

She’s efficient, responsive, and knowledgeable. Found exactly what we wanted and closed on a property within a few months. She even shared some of her fresh chicken eggs which were delish.
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Frank B.

Frank B.

Michele is a terrific Real Estate agent. She pays attention to the details of the situation through to the closing. She’s also very patient and understanding of the client's needs. You won’t go wrong with Michele on your side.
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Ashlee H.

Ashlee H.

Michele was incredible! I absolutely loved working with her, she drove all over Virginia Beach with us to find our perfect home and we could not be happier. She is definitely an expert on what she does, I am forever grateful!
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Craig K.

Craig K.

Michelle was amazing at helping sell our home. She knew exactly what to do in order to get the most out of the property. She sold quickly and was always attentive to what we needed and what was going on. Communication was alway...
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Nick W.

Nick W.

Michele was extremely professional and made sure that we were well taken care of. There is a lot of paperwork and technical tasks that go into purchasing real estate, and she made sure that we understood the process and made ev...
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Julie H.

Julie H.

I personally have known Michele Salyer for many years and she was my first and only choice for this transaction. Michele helped me sell another property that went perfectly. I knew I was in excellent hands, she was professional...
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Kevin C.

Kevin C.

Michele was wonderful to work with. She was extremely patient with my elderly mother and spent many hours visiting with her and helping her through the process of selling her home. This was really above and beyond what I would ...
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Craig K.

Craig K.

This is the second time I have utilized Michele for the sale of a property and she did not disappoint. I felt 100% confident that my home would sell quickly with Michele and for top dollar. She provided great feedback, helped e...
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Join Michele Salyer, your guide in real estate for over 24 years. With 9 years focused on direct assistance to buyers and sellers, Michele, a Real Estate Agent and Real Estate Paralegal with 15 years of experience, brings a unique legal insight to today's market. Work with Michele for a seamless real estate experience.

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