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.
Gregg provided exceptional service throughout the buying process. Gregg goes above and beyond in exceeding your expectations of what the typical broker will do. I would highly recommend Gregg for a home transaction.— Maverick M.
Greg was very responsive, professional, and knowledgeable and guides us through the entire selling process. His recommendations on what to repair on our house and his recommended price point allowed us to sell our house in less than one week with multiple offers. This was exactly what we had hoped for. We highly recommend Greg to anybody who is considering selling or buying a house.— Ken & Rhonda R.
Gregory was an amazing REALTOR. Very knowledgeable, responded to my questions quickly, and never gave up on me. He provided me with great advice, priced my house perfectly, and took his time finding a perfect house to start my new life with my family. He was very communicative and was a very good negotiator. There were times I wanted to give up because I couldn’t find the perfect house, but he stood by our side until the day we closed on our new house! Very thankful!— Lucieann
Gregg's knowledge of the local market, responsiveness, and persistence found me a home that met all of my criteria and then some! He was quick to share new houses as soon as they came on the market, and was always available to get me in to see them as soon as possible. He always responded immediately and provided me with consistent updates during the negotiation process. If you are looking for a REALTOR who you can count on to be in your corner, I could not recommend anyone other than Gregg.— Christopher M.
I worked with Gregg earlier in the year with the recommendation of friends. As a first-time buyer, I had no real idea what to expect. At the time, I wasn't even sure what questions to ask. Gregg was a tremendous help in explaining and simplifying the process for me right from the start. Clearly, Gregg did his homework! I closed on my townhouse in late April and everything has been great. What impresses me is that he still reaches out to see how things are going. I would definitely recommend Gregg and look forward to working with him again.— Tim H.
Buying a home can be extremely stressful, but working with Gregg made the entire process stress-free. My husband and I needed to buy a new home, as well as rent out the condo we currently owned. Gregg handled the rental property and the purchase of our new home with such ease and efficiency; without him, we would have been lost. Gregg always responded right away to all of my questions and concerns and he took the time to explain things to me in such a way that made me understand and feel comfortable with the process. I plan to recommend Gregg to all of my family and friends who are in the market to buy or rent a new home.— Stacey C.
Greg was amazing throughout the entire process. His professionalism and knowledge made the transaction easy. He gave us great insight, and his opinions were invaluable. I lost count of how many houses we toured, yet Greg was always there to offer accurate data and information we would not have known or thought to consider. We were able to smoothly sell our condo (in the first week of listing) and purchase our new home all within a short window. I can’t speak enough about how great he was, and I would highly recommend him to anyone. I always felt that he had our best interest in mind throughout the entire process. I will certainly be using Greg for a...— Ed A.
I purchased a “new” (very old) home last year which I assumed would be a daunting and stressful process. Thanks to Gregg, it couldn’t have gone more seamlessly from start to finish. Seriously, he was awesome. I had to proceed quickly due to the pending sale of my former home, and also had to schedule several different inspections because the new home came undisclosed. Gregg provided excellent recommendations for inspectors, repair specialists, and even a real estate attorney. Regarding negotiation, I truly felt I had a teammate on my side with only my best interests in mind. His response time to my (many many) questions was impressive and he was ext...— Christine C.
As a first-time home buyer, I have to say that Gregg made the entire experience stressful free and he has the patience of a Saint. He was completely on top of all of my concerns/issues. Always responded promptly to my million and one emails and phone calls. Gregg is the epitome of professionalism and I would refer him to everyone I know wanting to purchase or sell a home. I also contacted Gregg regarding a sale of a friend's home that was being mistreated and misguided in the sale process by a different agent. If it weren't for Gregg, this friend would have lost this home. I can't say enough about just how grateful we are to have Gregg as our agent....— Margaret H.
Gregg Leonard is an excellent REALTOR. He worked with me and my family for almost three years on getting the house of my dreams. It took this long because my financial capacity and purchasing power changed but he was there for me waiting for the right moment. I love his personality. He is friendly and familiar. Many times he looks at me like he was the one buying and he asked the right questions for me. I always had high expectations. I wanted a cheap house but a mansion with everything you can imagine. I was very unrealistic but he always said you are the boss. He also helped me to be more realistic. I learned a lot during this process. He got that...— Alison M.
Gregg is a full-service resource who works within all property and transaction types throughout Newtown & Fairfield County. He is adept at understanding clients' unique requirements and is prompt in determining the best course of action to fulfill them.