First-Time Homebuyers

Are you a first time home buyer? Or perhaps it has been a while since you’ve purchased a home. The process to purchase a home has become more complex largely due to the changes in the banking industry since the 2008 financial crisis and more stringent financial controls.

We suggest you to follow these 13 steps in order to reach your goal of buying your home and also to have a less stressful home buying experience with the help of an exclusive home buyer agent.

To-Do List for First-Time Homebuyers


The cost at closing will vary based on the home you plan to purchase. Other than the down payment there are other costs that range from 2% to 5% of the total home price, including closing costs, escrow for home insurance and property taxes; also for other expenses such as inspections, property survey, etc.

It’s recommended that you review these costs with the mortgage banker to have an understanding of what closing cost will be for your home purchase.

2Check Your Credit Report

Review your credit report and preferably with the three credit score bureaus.

If you find incorrect information, errors or information not up to date, be sure that you contact them to ask them to do the changes or updates. Also follow these general recommendations to improve your credit score if you plan to buy a home in the near future:

  • Pay all of your bills on time
  • Do not make any major purchases
  • Do not close any credit cards
  • Do not apply for new credit cards

Having a higher credit score will help you to obtain a lower interest rate, which results in a lower monthly house payment.

3Federal Programs to Become a Homeowner

The Federal Government through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for national policy programs that address America’s housing needs. Also HUD plays a major role in supporting homeownership by underwriting homeownership for low and moderate income families through its mortgage insurance programs. In the specifics of homeownership, HUD administers the mortgage and loan insurance through the Federal Housing Administration and fair housing public education and enforcement. In case you need assistance on how to manage your finances, work on your financial situation to apply for a mortgage in the near future or to learn more about the programs available; we suggest you to contact one of the HUD approved housing counseling agencies in Houston, TX. Please follow this link or download this PDF file

4How Much Can You Afford for a Monthly Payment?

Use an online mortgage calculator to determine what you can afford for a monthly payment. The payment amount should be manageable and not stretching your finances. You don’t want to buy a home that will put stress on your finances for the next 15 or 30 years. This is a mortgage calculator from Bankrate or you can also find them in the websites of the major banks or credit unions. Please note most of the calculators include the principal and interest based on the down payment, loan amount, length of the loan and interest rate. The homeowner’s insurance, property tax and home owner association (HOA) fees will vary depending on the house you plan on buying.

5Mortgage Pre-Approval

This step is critical and it will take a bit longer than you may expect. Contact different mortgage lenders and start with the bank or credit union that you already have a banking relationship; where you deposit your paychecks or that you currently have auto loan. Also meet with other mortgage lenders, so you can compare the overall costs and interest rate that you can get.

Continue the process with one lender and obtain a pre-approval letter before you begin your home search. After the lender has verified your documentation and approved the loan; you will have a mortgage pre-approval letter that will help determine how much you can spend on a home and get financing.

Furthermore having a loan pre-approval in hand strengthens your proposal when you submit an offer on a home, townhome or condo, since you don’t need to wait on the lender to review your application. In general there are two types of mortgage loans:

  • Conventional loans are offered by private mortgage lenders like banks, credit unions and other private companies.
  • FHA loans are backed and insured by the Federal Housing Administration.
6Location and Type of Home

You should start with these questions:

  • Where do you want to be located?
  • Do you want a house, townhome or condo?

Also, you should make two lists:

  • Items you and your family will need
  • Items you and your family would like
7Choose an Exclusive Buyer Agent to Represent You

Interview multiple realtors and select one that will support your best interests. Avoid realtors that want to sign a representation agreement at the first in person meeting.

We recommend that you interview for an exclusive buyer agent, who is committed to serving and representing the buyer’s interests in the real estate transaction.

The exclusive buyer agent will guide you through each step of the home buying process and will help you find a home that fits your needs. Furthermore they will handle all contract negotiations for your property from the initial offer, inspections to all the way to closing.

8Visit Homes

Share the homes that have caught your attention and your exclusive buyer agent will make the appointments to visit them.

During the home visits ask questions and inspect every area or room that you think is relevant such as the garage, attic, laundry room, bedrooms, back yard, etc. Also take pictures and notes of each house, so you can review them when narrowing down your home options.

9Narrow Your Choices

After visiting various neighborhoods, start eliminating the neighborhoods that don’t fit your search criteria.

We suggest you drive around at different times, so you can gauge the traffic and noise levels.

Research the schools assigned to the neighborhood and if possible visit them to ensure they can accommodate you and your children/s needs.

Keep in mind it may be difficult to find a home that meets all your families wants and needs. Having a clear understanding of what you and your family are looking for will make the process easier when visiting homes and comparing the different options that closely match your desires and needs, for your current and future needs.

10Make an Offer

With the assistance of you exclusive buyer agent, review the different homes that caught your attention. Pick a home to make an offer on that is within your budget and meets your criteria requirements.

Discuss an offer price that makes the most sense based on what other homes are selling for in the community and your exclusive buyer agent will provide up to date information to prepare and submit a competitive offer.

Your exclusive buyer agent will prepare and manage all the paperwork, submit the offer and act as the negotiator throughout the process on your behalf.

11Schedule a Home Inspection

After the offer is approved by the seller, your exclusive buyer agent will recommend from past experiences; a home inspector should evaluate the home and inform you of any issues that require repair or further inspection.

In the event the inspection report identifies problems with the home, your exclusive buyer agent will help negotiate a lower price on the home or ensure the repairs will be addressed prior to closing on the home.

12Final Walk Through

It is recommended that you do a walk through prior to the closing. At the walkthrough you can verify the home still appears as it did when you agreed to the contract and that any agreed upon repairs have been made as requested.

13Close and Move In

At the closing, you are the (buyer) party that is purchasing the home and it would be beneficial for you to have an agent representing you from start to finish of the closing process.

After the documents are reviewed and signed, you will get the keys to your new home.

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