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Jane's Ultimate Home Buyers 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. Jane created this step-by-step first time buyer’s guide to 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 a 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.

Jane's goal is to provide you with superior personalized service designed to help you buy your dream home.

Schedule a Consultation in the section below

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

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 10 : Finish the 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 at closing, you’ll be all set to move into the home of your dreams.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Home Buying

The Buying Process

A house is not a dream home because of its size or color. Its about how you feel when you walk through the front door - the way you can instantly see your life unfolding there. This about more than real estate. It's about your life and your dreams.
  • How can I make the most of my time when visiting homes?
    • Get an accurate idea of your price range, an estimate of your monthly payments and a pre-approval letter, so sellers will take you seriously when you make an offer.
    • Work with your KW agent to hone your “wants” and “needs” list. Think about what’s most important to you: the location or the house itself.
    • Preview homes through the KW app to eliminate those you won’t need to visit in person.
    • Plan an itinerary with your Jane Clark Realty Group agent.
  • What should I expect when visiting homes?
    • You and your Jane Clark Realty Buyer agent typically visit homes together
    • Homeowners usually are not home, so you’re free to spend as little or as much time as you want.
    • Buyers often have a gut reaction to a home. First impressions count, but you can also consult your agent to learn more about home values and possibly to reevaluate your priorities in the context of what’s available in your price range.
  • How many homes should I visit?

    Sometimes buyers find their future home the first time out and others look at 50 homes before they see one that checks all their boxes. It’s a good idea to see at least a few alternatives so you have some points of comparison, but sometimes you just know a place is where you want to live.

  • What should I look for when visiting homes?
    • Look beyond the staging and decorative items to see the features and fixtures that convey with the house.
    • Check the condition of the home.
    • Keep track with photos and notes.
    • Consider possible home improvements you might want to make so you can research costs later.
    • Don’t forget to check out the outside of the property and the neighborhood. Your Keller Williams agent has access to neighborhood insights and data to help inform your decision.
    • Locate your commuter route, schools, shops, restaurants, parks and other amenities.
    • If the property is a condo or located in a homeowners association, find out the fees and rules to see if you can live with them.

    The Jane Clark Realty Group is your trusted partner for your home search.

1. Home Visit

We'll arrange to visit the homes you've selected, together and in-person, to determine the best fit for you.

  • What should I include with my offer?

    Your Jane Clark Realtor will have the most recent standard purchase offer forms that comply with state and local laws.

    • The price
    • Terms – such as a request for closing cost help or that the offer is subject to your obtaining financing and a home inspection
    • Target date for closing
    • Earnest money deposit – your Jane Clark Realty Group agent can advise you about how big your deposit should be based on local customs and current conditions
    • Request for final walk-through
    • Time limit for the offer
  • What are the most common Contingencies?
    • Financing. Unless you’re paying cash, it’s typical to write your offer with a contingency clause that lets you off the hook if you can’t finalize your mortgage within a certain number of days. Even though you have a pre-approval for a loan, it’s smart to protect yourself.
    • Home inspection. Your offer can be made dependent on a satisfactory home inspection report within a certain number of days. This protects you if the inspection uncovers expensive necessary repairs.
  • What happens if I face multiple offers?

    In a competitive housing market, you may find yourself competing against other buyers. In that case, your Jane Clark Realty Group Buyer agent is your best ally in strategizing for your offer to be accepted. With access to real-time market data, your Jane Clark Realty Group Buyer agent will know how to best position your offer. If there’s more than one offer, the sellers can:

    • Accept the best offer
    • Counter all the offers to get a better price and terms
    • Counter one offer that’s close to what they want

    You and your Jane Clark Realty Group Buyer agent can work together to find out what’s important to the sellers, such as a specific moving date, and to discuss possibly waiving contingencies, adjusting your price or writing a “love letter” about the house.

  • What is a counteroffer?

    Sellers can accept your offer as is or they can make a counteroffer with an adjustment to some or all of your terms. You can accept or reject the counteroffer and make your own counteroffer. The contract is final once you and the sellers have agreed to all the terms.
    Your Jane Clark Realtor is essential when negotiating the terms of your purchase..

2. Making an Offer

Once you’ve narrowed down your list and have a clear favorite, collaborate with us to make an offer on a home..

  • What should I expect to see in the contract?

    Ask your Jane Clark Realtor to explain the key points in your multi-page contract, such as:.

    • Accuracy of information, including the correct spelling of your name and the property address
    • The effective date of the contract – important because your contingencies have time limits.
    • A list of contingencies, such as that the sale depends on financing, an appraisal, a satisfactory home inspection, and perhaps the sale of your current home.
    • Property disclosure information from the seller, depending on your state laws.
    • A complete list of what conveys with the property
    • A list of required inspections, such as a home inspection and a pest inspection
    • Information about when you can move in.
    • In some cases, such as if your offer is contingent on the sale of your home, the seller may add a “kick-out” clause, which means that the seller could accept another offer if one is made before your home is sold.
  • How do I know when to negotiate and when to let go?

    Your Jane Clark Realtor can guide you, but you also need to decide how much you want a particular property and what you’re willing to accept to get it. You may want to let go when:

    • A bidding war drives the price too high
    • The appraised value of the home is below your offer
    • A home inspection finds defects that would be expensive to repair
    • The sellers are unwilling to make reasonable repairs
    • You learn about homeowners association rules that won’t work for you
  • What are common contract pitfalls I should avoid?

    Your Jane Clark Realtor will help you watch out for:

    • Unrealistic deadlines: you’ll need time to arrange a home inspection and receive the report, as well as to arrange to finance
    • Missing deadlines means you lose your chance to end the contract and keep your deposit
    • Items that don’t convey with the property: if you’re not sure, ask your agent to confirm
    • Communications from your lender

    According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the most common reasons for contracts to fail or to be delayed are home inspection problems, financing problems, or appraisal issues. Your Jane Clark Realty Group Buyer agent can help you navigate the complexities of a real estate contract.

3. Execute Contract

The crucial period between an offer and a final contract is an important time to stay in close contact with your Jane Clark Realtor so you’re equipped with all the information you need to make smart decisions.

  • What is a home inspection?

    Your home inspector will check a massive list (more than 1,000 items) of systems, appliances and structures in your home to evaluate its condition. You’ll get a written report that identifies potential problems and future maintenance issues. It’s up to you to decide whether the report means you want to walk away from a house or ask the sellers to make repairs. You can also have an “information only” inspection, which means you’re buying the house as is, but want to know its condition.

  • What is included in a home inspection?

    The inspector will check:

    • Structural conditions such as the foundation, beams and floors
    • Roof condition
    • Mechanical systems such as heat and air conditioning
    • Appliances – to make sure they’re working
    • Plumbing – for leaks, rust and water pressure
    • Electrical systems such as grounded outlets and code violations
    • Safety issues such as stairs, handrails, mold or chimney maintenance
  • What should I watch for in a home inspection?

    You and your Jane Clark Realty Group Buyer agent should attend the home inspection to learn about home maintenance and so you can see any potential problems yourself. The inspector can answer questions as you go, so if there’s anything you don’t understand or are worried could be a problem, just ask.

  • I've got the home inspection report. now what?

    While you and your Jane Clark Realty Group agent can decide whether to negotiate on anything in the inspection report, you can ask the inspector the following questions:

    • Are the items you’ve flagged major or minor issues?
    • What needs to be done to resolve any flagged issues?
    • Can you give me an estimate of the cost of any repairs?
    • Do I need another inspection, such as by an electrician or a structural engineer?
    • Are there things I need to do after I move in

    Your experienced Jane Clark Realty group Buyer agent can be the best adviser to help you understand the implications of the home inspection.

4. Schedule Home Inspection

As soon your offer is accepted, you should schedule your home inspection. If you’re buying in a busy season, it may take time to find an available inspector, so rely on your Jane Clark Realty Group Buyer agent to recommend trusted home inspectors.

  • What is a home warranty?

    A home warranty policy, which typically lasts for one year and is renewable, provides coverage for some of your home’s systems and appliances. In return for the annual fee, the company will cover repair costs and arrange for contractors. You’ll pay a deductible fee and possibly service fees if you need to use the warranty.

  • Do I need a home warranty?

    If you’re buying an existing home, especially one with appliances that are more than four years old, a home warranty can give you peace of mind about paying for unexpected repairs and finding a reliable contractor. If you’re a first-time buyer, especially if you have limited savings, this can be particularly important. If you have plenty of emergency savings, you’re handy or know good contractors, you may not need a warranty. Your real estate agent can also be a good source of recommendations for contractors. If you’re buying a newly built home, structural defects are usually under warranty by the builder for 10 years and other items are typically covered for six months to two years, so you don’t usually need a home warranty.

  • What should I look for in a home warranty?

    To choose a good home warranty, you and your Jane Clark Realty Group agent should review:

    • The home warranty company’s license with your state’s real estate commission
    • The fine print – that’s where you’ll find exclusions and limitations
    • What’s covered and what’s not
    • The coverage limits – your repairs will only be paid for up to a specific level
    • Service fees and deductibles
    • How quickly service and claims are handled
    • How contractors are vetted and what happens if you use your own
    • Coverage differences between a basic warranty and enhanced warranty
    • Online reviews

    You can always ask your real estate agent for home warranty recommendations and advice.

5. Get a Home Warranty

Some home sellers pay for a home warranty that covers them while their home is on the market and conveys to the buyers after the sale. You can ask your real estate agent for advice about negotiating for the sellers to pay for a warranty or buying one yourself.

Work with Jane

Jane offers the highest level of expertise, service, and integrity. Jane utilizes the latest technologies, market research and business strategies to exceed your expectations. More importantly, she listens and that means she finds solutions that are tailored to you.

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