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.
We worked with Franco to sell our home, as well as to purchase a new home. From the beginning, we were impressed with Franco's dedication to listening to our needs and presenting us with options that aligned with them. We always felt that he put us and our needs first. He took the time to walk us through every step of the process, and answer all of our questions. He was extremely patient and responsive. We received a lot of offers to buy our home and ended up selling it for more than what we listed the home for. Franco was a great negotiator for us during this step of our home selling. He showed us the same commitment during the buying process. I hi...— Tom B.
Franco, we can't thank you enough for the help and guidance you provided as we moved out of state. You exceeded our expectations for getting the house sold. In addition, you assisted us in managing construction, clean-up, and remodeling of the much-needed projects we left behind. You truly went above and beyond. A million thanks for selling our home in Carroll Knolls in Silver Spring.— Sabrina H.
I really cannot recommend Franco highly enough! Franco dove right in and worked tirelessly to find us the perfect home in an extremely competitive market. He sent us amazing listings that fit all of our fairly specific criteria and was always willing to set up visits to homes we had sent him as quickly as possible. When we finally found our perfect home, Franco made sure our offer was the most competitive. We beat out 10 other offers and it is all thanks to Franco! He is the real deal, and I will be recommending him to all of my friends!— Chelsea E.
We want to thank you for handling the sale in Olney MD. We appreciated your knowledge and professional manner. You are an asset to your team and company. Thank you again for holding our hands through the sale of our property.— Mike & Diana W.
Finding and selling a home are emotional, personal experiences, and Franco walks with you in a professional, thoughtful, and fun manner. He knows and loves the DC/MD/VA area, and always goes above and beyond to make sure we are not just comfortable, but in love with the home we are in. I highly recommend Franco for your Realtor®!— Callie & Jessie F.
Franco is my absolute "go to" person for all things real estate. Not only is he polite, professional and responsive, he's upfront, honest and super knowledgeable. A true expert in this industry, Franco is definitely someone you want helping you along the buying or selling journey— Kimberly D.
Franco was great! He helped us sell our house and buy a new one. Both processes were quick and easy, and we enjoyed working with him as our agent. Franco is a nice guy, no pressure, very helpful and available to talk through anything. Would recommend to anyone!— Amanda P. & Peter D.
Franco loves his job and it shows! My husband and I were first-time home buyers and the wealth of knowledge, commitment, and patience Franco showed us was beyond compare. Franco always sent us listings and made himself available to show homes around our schedule (we have a young daughter). He helped us navigate the process of understanding what we wanted in a home and finding a home that met the needs and wishes of both my husband and myself. When it came time to bid on our new house Franco knew the market, the area and was well versed in what similar homes were going for so we were able to win the bid and get help toward our closing cost which was ...— Kellie C.
Buying a place is always a stressful experience, I am so glad that Franco was there every step of the way! Being a first-time buyer, there was so much I didn't know. Franco listened to what I wanted and did not pressure me into buying anything. Franco was very patient while I dragged him from place to place. Franco's attention to detail, knowledge of the field, patience, calm attitude, and no-pressure approach were greatly appreciated. I couldn't imagine going through the process of buying a home with anyone else, his advice and guidance were invaluable. I will surely use Franco again. Simply said, Franco is the best!— Rukshani L.
I first worked with Franco in 2010 during the purchase of my first home. He was professional, knowledgeable, and extremely patient. He's charismatic and kind and was able to encourage me through the process during the times when my offer on a house fell through. Currently (2018/2019), my mother and I are working with Franco. Franco just recently sold my mother's house (November 2018), and now we're working on her next purchase. I would highly recommend Franco's services. He's the best out there!— Buyer & Seller
There are many Realtors® in the DC Metro area, but there are very few that will go the extra mile to care for their clients. Franco is one of those Realtors®. He's great with first-time homeowners and has a warm jovial personality that eases the fears and paranoia of a neophyte purchaser, but his depth of understanding in the market enables him to navigate the ever-changing landscape and to accommodate complex transactions and investors. Franco is a terrific resource.— Nathan F.
We love Franco! We’ve used him to sell our home and purchase a home. When things didn’t go our way (at no fault of his) Franco stuck with us through the process and helped us make the right decisions, even if it was going to delay the sale/purchase. In addition to Franco being extremely educated on all respective matters, we found him to be honest, resourceful, patient, and responsive. From the search to signing, Franco stood by us and made the process seamless.— Rukfern
Franco is as honest and genuine as they come. He steered me away from properties that needed too much work and did not encourage me to look at anything out of my budget. He had my interests in mind only and was present and enthusiastic thought the whole process. 10/10 would use again if I ever move to Maryland again.— John M.
Franco guided my husband and me through the entire home search and home buying process. He was extremely patient and when we found our home, he continued to communicate with us and gave us the proper paperwork for the first-time home buyer's tax credit. I would definitely use Franco again!— Pamela W.
Incredibly knowledgeable and easy to get in contact with. This man drove at night and in the middle of a snow storm to show me a place. In the end, it ended up being the one I purchased. Gotta hand it to him - there aren’t too many with that level of dedication.— Dane
Dear Franco, thank you so much for all of the help with the sale of Meadow Green, and for everything you have done to make this a stress-free experience. I am so grateful for this great selling experience.— Jeanette M.
Franco was super patient with me and all of my questions as a single woman buying a house all on my own for the first time. He cares for his clients like family!— Gaby M.
We appreciate your kindness and patience throughout a long and tedious process. You were so great and we always recommend you people who are house hunting.— Sara & Giancarlo
He advises his sellers on which improvements are needed to get the greatest market value and which improvements have the greatest returns. In addition, franco can provide you with reliable lenders, title specialists, and insurance agents.