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 your agent 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 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.


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 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.

My 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!). 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.


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. 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.


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. 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.


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.


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.

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Jennifer is absolutely incredible and helped me quickly find not only a rental but later on a home.

— Angelica K.

Jenn was amazing in helping us purchase a home from afar. She has a deep knowledge of the area and was incredibly generous in working with us. I highly recommend her.

— Molly Z.

She is absolutely amazing. We looked at many houses and she had a lot of insight into the area and the houses. She helped us find the perfect home. Even pointing out things that wouldn’t suit our needs when we liked other houses. She wanted to help us select the perfect home.

— Brandon D.

We worked with Jennifer D'Amato to find and purchase our first home. Jenn is very friendly and professional. She always showed up to viewings on time and provided us with lots of helpful information about the houses we saw. She even recommended a few companies who could do work on the wonderful home we ended up purchasing. We would certainly recommend Jenn to others.

— Erin G.

Jennifer recently helped us sell our apartment in New Haven. In short, she was excellent regarding expertise in the whole process including the local market and every step in the selling process. Jen is easy to work with, patient, reliable, and very efficient. I am convinced that she will exceed expectations in every buy or sell real estate deal and I recommend her highly.

— Dejan Z.

Jenn D’Amato is a very service-oriented knowledgeable Broker. I’ve been in real estate development for 40 years. We wanted to purchase a condo for my daughter’s Yale graduate school years. Jenn help us in finding our condo 3 years ago and she recently sold it for us. I’ve seen her on both sides of a transaction. She was flawless and such a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend Jenn.

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— Sonny A.

Jenn helped us find a beautiful dog-friendly apartment. She listened to our descriptions of what we were looking for and suggested homes that worked for us. At the time, we were moving across the country. Jenn D'Amato was flexible with our needs and worked with homeowners and prior tenants to get us video tours. I was so grateful for Jenn's help and would recommend her to anyone looking for a rental in N...

— Jandee T.

Jenn helped us find a great apartment several years ago, and was our first choice to guide us through purchasing our first home. She was professional, accessible, responsive, encouraging, and so knowledgeable about the market and neighborhood we wanted. Gave great recs for a home inspector, etc. Jenn went above and beyond in several ways and even helped us find a great tenant for the property. Have been ...

— Lauren A.

This review is a long time coming. Jenn helped me buy my property in East Rock New Haven and of course, I went back to her when I wanted to sell it. She is thoroughly professional, on time, and pleasant and all this comes with her excellent knowledge of the local area and a number of reliable individuals such as inspectors, handymen, etc. She argues for the best deal for you but never wants to shortchang...

— Swapnil G.

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Whether you are an experienced investor or a first time buyer, I can help you in finding the property of your dreams. Let me guide you every step of the way by calling or e-mailing me to set up an appointment today.

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