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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 our team 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 we 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 agents like us to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will we help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but we also have a knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where our expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let us show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

Our goal is to provide you with the most personalized service that is designed to help you buy your dream home


Step 5: Find the Right Home

This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). We 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.

Redondo Beach,CA Homes for Sale

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. We 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. We 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.

Two white lawn chairs sitting on a wooden deck overlooking the ocean.

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.


Purchased My Florida home out of state and she continues to help post-closing keeping me informed and supplying me with contacts for all my needs.

— Laurie R.


Jennifer went the extra mile for us and was very accessible throughout the entire process. I can’t imagine anyone outworking her.

— Russ K.


Would give 6 stars to Jennifer if possible. Very friendly, kind, organized, dedicated, helpful, and very involved in the whole process. Willing to help and go the extra distance above and beyond to facilitate the process. Would recommend her with no reservations.

— Luis S.


Jennifer has worked diligently to make sure we have all of our needs met. She is very conscientious about making sure we are happy with the house we chose. Thank you, Jennifer!

— Seth W.


I have worked with Jennifer on multiple home purchases and sales and will again, as needed. She is a top-notch realtor who knows the Suncoast area and market.

— Jennifer C.


Jennifer was diligent and followed through to make the deal happen! We appreciated her knowledge, availability, and communication throughout the process of purchasing our home!

— Cindy T.


Jennifer is a wonderful realtor. She provides you necessary time and is an excellent communicator. She really hustled for us and was available at our convenience. We were very pleased with her service.

— Debbie T.


Thank You for everything you did making it easier for us in the purchase of the Villa. Thanks again you making it a smooth transaction and answering all of our questions.

— Roy W.


We are at a loss for words and cannot describe how helpful Jennifer was with our purchase of a condo on Siesta Key. She went way out of her way to help us with the process of buying and closing. She deserves the award for Realtor of the Year in Florida. No correction in all of the United States. She is amazing and very knowledgeable. Jennifer as you know we cannot thank you enough. Hope that we can remai...

— Mike & Kathe S.


Jennifer is amazing, amazing. We went through months of craziness with me making multiple offers, having houses go into probate, and having me do a two-week trip to Japan in the middle of our house hunting. I put her through a workout that would have killed a lesser realtor. She was unfailingly energetic, funny, optimistic, and often went WAY above and beyond the call of duty to help me and my family fin...

— Stephanie F.


Our agent was very good at helping us through the buying process and answering any questions. We would recommend her to friends!

— Sharon W.


My husband and I fell in love with Siesta Key and Sarasota. We were fortunate to meet Jennifer when we walked into the Michael Saunders office in Siesta Key. She listened to us and provided us with a great deal of information and, was not at all pushy. We felt very comfortable with her from the moment we met her and, are thrilled with our new home. She continues to be a great help and, offers guidance as...

— Lorraine S.


Jen is an excellent, ethical, and honest realtor who delivers! She has helped me with multiple real estate transactions and I highly recommend her. In addition, she has great staging ability and this helps sell your house. Please consider Jennifer for your real estate needs. I highly recommend her.

— Debbi N.


Jennifer Thompson is by far the best realtor in Siesta Key! I ran from another realtor when I saw her open house sign. She immediately spotted my buying stress and reached out to help me. By all standards, she is professional, knowledgeable, and hard-working for her clients. I can say with all honesty that this realtor should be recognized for her outstanding services to her clients. Her employer should ...

— Carole B.


We likely would not have moved to Siesta Key if not for Jennifer's knowledge of the area and her patience during the six-month search for our new home. After we found our new home, she professionally navigated us through all of the questions and concerns we had during the pre-closing period; no easy task considering it all unfolded during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. After closing, we were unable...

— Robert H.


Jennifer did a marvelous job on our two transactions! We sold one house and bought another almost simultaneously. There were many dates and events to follow up on. Jennifer never lost the way and both closed within one week of another. Plus, she was very responsive in following up on our questions.

— Al H.


Jennifer was amazing to work with when we purchased our condo on Siesta Key. I trusted her as I did not even see the condo before we wrote the offer. She is on top of it for sure! I would highly recommend Jennifer Thompson to anyone buying from in-state or out-of-state. I am a realtor myself in Columbus Ohio and she has my support!

— Lizzie M.


Our buying experience with Jennifer was perfect she was always in our corner. She understood what we were looking for in relocating from the Midwest and with her depth of experience and knowledge of the area and market we found the perfect house in a great area. Jennifer was very willing to help us in all areas of the sale and relo including setting up new utility service and even finding an inspector, i...

— Carol


Jennifer is one of the hardest-working people I have met. My husband and I live in PA, and Jennifer quickly responded to all calls or emails and helped us purchase the perfect condo (sight unseen) within 4 days of the property being listed. She also provided a list of inspectors, attorneys, contractors, and other service providers all of whom were top-notch. She knows the area well and I would highly rec...

— Kristin R.


Jennifer is an outstanding agent, enjoyable to work with, and incredibly responsive ("always working" as she says) and she means it! We were impossible clients and changed our minds and cities several times and she never failed to rapidly adjust and do what was necessary. She's also very focused on looking out for her clients and will always give an honest opinion. If I move again my first call will be t...

— Michael G.

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