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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Schedule A Consultation

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


See why our clients love working with us.


Andrew L.

Shawn Tate has been a total professional throughout all aspects of the sale of our home. He was always willing to answer questions, take our phone calls, and meet with us whenever necessary. He demonstrated extensive experience...
Read More


Luke O.

Shawn is responsive, punctual, and goes above and beyond to help throughout the home buying process. He showed genuine concern for my (buyer) best interest as I looked at homes, and as a first-time buyer, this was a massive hel...
Read More


Ronald R.

Shawn Tate exceeded our expectations in representing our recent home sale. Truly a professional, detailed, and organized process that sold our home very quickly and at an aggressive price. His affiliation with the Sotheby’s org...
Read More


Jeana L.

Shawn is courteous, kind, and professional. He is exceptionally responsive and helpful. It was my great pleasure to work with him.
Read More


Laura P.

Shawn Tate is an amazing agent. He completely understood our goal and prepped it expertly. We had an offer accepted and a contract signed in 28 (exhausting) hours. His strengths are numerous, specifically his ability to ensure ...
Read More


Matt L.

I can’t say enough about Shawn Tate. To say he is at the top of his field is an understatement. He is a professional in all aspects of the real estate field. His connections in the industry to finalize sales, as well as his wil...
Read More


Kai H.

Shawn was very knowledgeable and helpful. He became genuinely invested in our wants or needs in a home and sent us listings that matched our desires. He worked well with other Realtors® and often spoke on our behalf to potentia...
Read More


Greg Z.

I have bought and sold many properties over the years and interact regularly with Realtors® as a real estate appraiser. I can honestly say, Shawn is by far one of the most professional Realtors® I have ever met. I trust him and...
Read More


Armand D.

Shawn was amazing! He took the necessary time to fully understand the needs of my family before bringing us properties for consideration. He made our experience one we would happily repeat.
Read More


Harry K.

Shawn goes above and beyond to help handle any of the unexpected logistics that pop up when either buying or selling. He is the best!
Read More


Dalel D.

Excellent, he was just great! Couldn’t ask for anyone better. He made it a priority to help us find the right home for us.
Read More


Aaron & Heather S.

I know we haven’t closed yet. You might be the best agent we have worked with ever. Appreciate your honesty and style.
Read More

Allison P.

Fantastic. He asked good questions to enable him to identify homes to look at.
Read More


Emily P.

Super! Very professional and heartfelt I just like you and your energy!
Read More

Work With Us

Shawn’s professional career spans several industries including real estate, communications, industrial coatings and entertainment, where he is distinguished in each by excellence in building relationships and use of creative sales and marketing strategies to achieve goals.

Follow Shawn Tate Team on Instagram