A Step-by-Step First Time Buyer's Guide

Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones of your life. To prepare for this moment, you must 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.


Step 1: Research

Would you happen to 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 these questions, now is the time to start researching. In addition to looking for homes that interest you, note any changes in asking prices. This research 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 I said to decide on your budget—not determine how much the mortgage company will give you. Often, a mortgage company will pre-approve you for more than you’re comfortable spending. Hence, you need to determine the monthly payment you feel satisfied with before talking to a lender. This likely includes a total household budget and considering 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 particular 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 significant problems when securing a mortgage. Before you set your heart on a home, talk to a mortgage professional to determine what amount you 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 not 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 an agent like me 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 knowledge of the market you don’t possess. We 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.



Step 5: Find the Right Home

Finding the right home should be the most enjoyable step (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 pay attention to details. Turn light switches on and off, open and close doors, and run the faucets in various rooms. Please don’t limit your inspection to the home itself. Explore the neighborhood and monitor traffic at certain times of the day, the parking situation, and how close it is to necessities like schools and grocery stores.


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. Your submission may be below, at, or even above the asking price, depending on what the home is listed and whether the current environment is a buyer’s or seller’s market. We can 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 depend on having the home inspected to ensure no significant structural damage or extensive repairs are needed. We can help you arrange this, and you can schedule it within days of making an offer. If there are no significant issues, the process goes to step eight. If there is, you can renegotiate your offer based on what needs to be fixed or withdraw it.


Step 8: Select Your Loan

Now is the time to return to the mortgage lender who pre-approved or pre-qualified you and choose your mortgage. They will offer various options based on your unique financial situation, including fixed-rate, variable-rate, 15-year, 30-year, or special programs such as VA or FHA loans. You can work with your mortgage lender to select the option you feel the most comfortable with.


Step 9: Get a Home Appraisal

Your lender will appraise your new home so they have their independent value. The appraisal ensures that all parties pay a fair price for the house.


Step 10: Finish Paperwork

No one looks forward to all the paperwork 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.


"Ivonne is the real deal! We were connected with her by chance and we are so grateful! She did an outstanding job guiding us through our purchase while we were states away. We were well informed about all the nuances and she had great contacts/recommendations for the are. And to top it off, she was amazing with our young children while we were focused on things like inspections. Thank you Ivonne!"

— STEFANIE B. | Client


Hi, Amanda. My name is Tom Bromley. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the representation that you gave me in selling my Harbor Lights condo on Destin Harbor. It’s been a good experience. You have been very professional. You have done a lot of running around and errands and special favors and I surely appreciate that. I look forward to doing more business in the future. Thank you so much.



My name is Robert Mead. I just purchased a unit at Palazzo Condominiums. I became aware of the unit through Nathan. Nathan Abbott is the finest Realtor®️ I’ve ever dealt with anywhere. I live in Kentucky but I own property in several states and have lived several places. Nathan really goes beyond the call of duty as a representative of the property for both the buyer and seller. I think anyone would be v...



Hi there, my name is Kim, this is my husband Dave, and videotaping us is the most fantastic Realtor®️ in the world and we speak from lots of months of experience. We bought our first condo not too long ago in Panama City Beach, and loved the area so much – the people are friendly, and the beach was gorgeous. We decided to put our 2 bedroom unit on the market, which Amanda will be handling and just today,...

— KIM E. & DAVE S.


Hello. My name is Calvin Starlin. This is my wife Sherry. I would like to tell you how happy we have been with the Nathan Abbott Team. We have bought, over the last 15 years, several properties. He (Nathan) has always and his team has always represented us in purchases and also represented us in sales. And it is absolutely outstanding. I am telling you this, not for any other reason, but because I want y...



Hi, Amanda. My name is Tom Bromley. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the representation that you gave me in selling my Harbor Lights Condo on Destin Harbor. It’s been a good experience. You have been very professional. You have done a lot of running around and errands and special favors and I surely appreciate that. I look forward to doing more business in the future. Thank you so much.

— TOM B.


Hi. I want to say how thrilled I am that I bought a property here in Bluewater Bay. I absolutely love the Nathan Abbott Team. Nathan and Oksana took me everywhere. We looked at 18 properties. And I picked one. It’s the perfect house for my family. Frank has been wonderful in helping me get all the paperwork. And I can’t be more thrilled with this team. Thank you very much, Nathan Abbott Team!


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