Buying Your First Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

Posted on: Friday, May 1, 2020

The pandemic has added new challenges and complications to the real estate market. Fortunately, Orlando REALTORS® are up to the task and up to date on the latest developments and best practices. Enlisting a licensed REALTOR® is particularly important for first-time homebuyers like yourself, as the process has become increasingly complex during the Coronavirus crisis. That’s why it’s more important than ever to rely on a REALTOR®’s deep well of expertise.

So. How do you buy your first home?
Remember, buying a house involves more than just finding a property you like

Well, while you’ll be eager to start looking for your home online, we recommend that you also find a REALTOR® first. He or she will be able to guide you through the entire process -- a process that continues to evolve due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Remember, buying a house involves more than just finding a property you like. Your REALTOR® can help you with everything from searching to financing to negotiating to closing, all while making the journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Here’s an overview of how a trained and licensed REALTOR® can provide essential assistance for your first home purchase.

Make a Plan

The onset of social distancing means it’s getting harder to rely on open houses to find your dream home. Now more than ever, it’s essential to set up a plan for your real estate journey, and that’s where REALTORS® come in. A real estate professional will help you focus your search by determining a list of “musts” and “wants,” including housing type, neighborhood, school district, etc. Most importantly, your REALTOR® can work with you to establish a budget based on a realistic (and confidential) assessment of your buying power. 

Start Looking

Once you’ve established a plan and parameters, start shopping. This is the fun part. Your REALTOR® can steer you toward the best places to look in order to make your search efficient, and help you boil down choices based on an array of criteria. Look for a home that “feels right,” but be sure that your decision is as rational as it is emotional. Your REALTOR® can provide unbiased counsel that prevents you from making a decision that might not benefit you in the long run. 

Find a Lender

Getting a mortgage pre-approval is more important than ever. Obtaining a loan for a first home, which can be tricky in normal times, has become more complex during the pandemic. Some lenders have raised credit score requirements, so you’ll want to know your current score. Minimum down payments are rising, so having some extra money in savings is beneficial. Many lenders are implementing additional layers of approval, which can lengthen the mortgage process.  All the more reason to have a REALTOR® at your side. He or she can recommend several options and guide you through the process. 

Rely on Virtual Reality before Actual Reality

Technology exists that enables REALTORS® to facilitate a fully remote home viewing. Virtual reality actually lets you walk through a home, room by room, right from your laptop, tablet, or phone. It’s a smart way to narrow down your choices while staying as safe as possible. When you finally do see a home that fits the bill, your REALTOR® will arrange for and accompany you on an in-person showing. Trust them to spot things — flaws or drawbacks, for instance — that the first-time homebuyer might miss. They also know what questions to ask and will get answers to any specific questions or concerns you may have. 

An Eye on Health and Safety

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, REALTORS® have moved safety to the top of their list of priorities. To that end, Orlando REALTORS® are following an established set of measures to protect everyone involved during the homebuying process. They include increased reliance on virtual tours and communications; a set of recommendations to conduct safe in-person property visits; the use of electronic services for the exchange of documents, and more. Having a REALTOR® with up-to-the-minute knowledge of these processes and technologies will keep first-time homebuyers safe and sound every step of the way

Make an Offer and Negotiate

It almost goes without saying, but the last thing a first-time homebuyer should ever do is negotiate terms of a real estate sale on their own. Having a REALTOR® in your corner during this phase is vitally important. Orlando REALTORS® can review comparable properties and sales (comps) to determine the actual value of the home you’re interested in. They’ll help you craft an attractive opening offer and evaluate counteroffers. All parties want the same thing — to execute a satisfactory real estate transaction — and the art of negotiating is the key to making it happen. Your REALTOR® will do everything they can to get you the best possible deal!

Inspection and Appraisal

You’re now so far along in the real estate journey you can practically feel what it’s like to sit at the dining room table! That’s why home inspections are often nerve-wracking. Be advised: The inspection report may show some warts on the property you’re in love with, or very occasionally unearth a major problem. But that doesn’t mean your dream home is going to drift away. REALTORS® use their knowledge and savvy to continue negotiations to resolve the issues. Similarly, if an appraisal comes in low, you may find yourself wondering about next steps. An experienced REALTOR® has encountered this situation countless times and is on hand to help you navigate the problem.


This is when you sign the paperwork, remit money, transfer ownership, and get the keys. A closing is a somewhat daunting legal transaction that could easily overwhelm a first-time homebuyer. Your Orlando REALTOR® can be there to support you through the entire process, right down to the final signatures. And when the keys to your new home are handed to you across the table, he or she will be the first one to say the five wonderful words you’ll only hear once in your lifetime:

“Congratulations on your first home!”


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