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. 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.


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.

Gabe & Laura H.
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Janet F.
Jan P.
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Got what we were looking for. Vanessa was extremely responsive and always flexible to our schedules. Would recommend her to anybody with no hesitation.

— Gabe & Laura H.

Vanessa was helpful in our moving process. Worked with our work hours and responded very quickly to any questions we had. Would recommend it to family and friends in the future!

— Sheena P.

Need options for your specific needs? He helped me on short notice and I am very satisfied with the one I chose especially under my circumstances. He helped me based on my location, amenities, and specific apartment build needs.

— Buyer

Mark Anthony is very positive and always willing to help you throughout the home-buying process. I appreciated him checking in all the time and keeping me relaxed. His professional nature and outgoing personality made it very easy for me to work with him and made the entire process very easy. Would very much recommend him.

— Ricardo B.

Mark Anthony Ball was such a joy. As a Sales Consultant for Castlerock Communities, we meet a lot of realtors. But not many are like Mark Anthony. He is an outstanding Realtor who listened to the best interest of his buyer. The buyer was very happy to see this gem Mark Anthony had found for him. His follow-up was excellent. His client was very pleased with the purchase of this new home. I look forward to...

— Janet F.

If you want a great realtor to find the home of your dreams, Mark Ball is your man! He listened to what we were looking for, immediately started giving us listings, and showed us what we wanted to see. There is a lot of competition for houses right now but he helped us find our home and stayed with us every step of the way through all the paperwork including the day we closed which was only 20 days from ...

— Jan P.

My wife and I were very fortunate to have found Vanessa Montez on Realtor.com. Vanessa has not only treated us with the utmost professionalism and courtesy but she's also treated us as friends not just as clients. She will always go above and beyond our expectations for great service. She worked around our schedule with 100% flexibility and she patiently walked us through the home-buying process. My wife...

— Oscar

Mark Anthony Ball was a great realtor for us when we chose to purchase our home in the San Antonio area. He ensured that all our buying needs are met and he is very flexible with working with his clients. Being in the military and my busy schedule, he stayed on top and made sure that I meet my timelines and works efficiently through the process. He had clear and consistent communication, well-organized b...

— Blake U.

I had the pleasure of working with Mark Anthony and his team on my recent home purchase, and it was truly a gift. I've worked with several realtors in the past, but none were able to get the job done like Mark Anthony. He made the process so easy and stress-free, and his team was always available to answer any questions we had. What impressed me the most was that Mark Anthony took the time to listen to w...

— Meg L.

There is nothing short of a spectacular review that we could write on behalf of Mark Anthony Ball. As a recently retired military family, we spent a good amount of time preparing ourselves for our first home purchase in San Antonio. We reached out to Mark Anthony after seeing he was a contact on the VettedVA list as we planned on using our VA loan. Within an hour of reaching out via email, we heard back ...

— Buyer

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