Buyer's Guide

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Congratulations!

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. 

Testimonials

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Maria & Pat

Luci Edwards made the buying process such a breeze. Luci's local knowledge was extensive and played an essential role in our search. She was extremely helpful, open, transparent, and reliable throughout the process. She was alw...
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April W.

I have worked with Luci on several property transactions and have found her to be attentive and responsive, with a sound work ethic. I give her my recommendation gladly!
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Johny & Family

We were delighted to find ourselves teamed up with luci when we began hunting for a new home in Montana! Moving from another state and keeping the purchase moving from thousands of miles away seemed like it would be a much more...
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Terry O.

Luci did a fantastic job selling my property. Unlike most professionals in our area, she kept me in the loop and returned my calls in record time. She held my best interest first and foremost at all times. I was able to get the...
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Rachael & Dallas

We were looking at houses and had started with a realtor who completely blew us off, so I turned to Zillow and went through the Find A Realtor search and came across Luci, and it was the best decision ever. From the first e-mai...
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Diana Williams

We had a difficult time initially due to being foreigners, and in need of ITIN numbers, but with Luci's help, we got there in the end and are happy to say that a completed sale has just taken place, and money is in our bank acc...
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Darrel B.

She is the best there is, always giving 100% will return calls asap! And available to show properties on weekends (which most don't) and anytime, very flexible. If you need someone who will listen to what you want and not go ov...
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The Danielson's

Darling Luci! This month we celebrate our third year in the home you helped us find :) You treated us as if we had a million-dollar spending plan….We are so grateful for your care and expertise and wish you great prosperity in ...
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Cara Maria - The Challenge Champion

She's the best! Fights for everything you want. She is a tough cookie and will find you your dream home.
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Mary K.

Luci was a dream to work with. She went above and beyond in handling a complex negotiation that went back and forth numerous times before we reached an agreement. My husband, Larry Tipton, and I highly recommend Luci Edwards if...
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Brett S.

Luci Edwards had our back. She immediately picked up what we were looking for and found the perfect place. She is a lovely person to work with (my kids loved her) and extremely professional. She knows Bozeman, and she knows her...
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Lindsey K.

We found Luci through a listing on Trulia. She responded very quickly and knew just what steps we needed to take in buying our first home. She was always available to show us houses and prompt in answering questions. She was a...
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Tandy B.

If your looking for a realtor/broker that's honest, reliable, fun to work with, and looking out for your best interest, then look no further! Luci Edwards is the best in the business as far as we're concerned. We have used her ...
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Shauna F.

Luci was great to work with! She makes herself available to her clients. Luci was prompt in getting any questions I had answered and took the time to understand what I was looking for. She was enjoyable to work with, and she wo...
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Eve A.

Luci e uma pessoa adoravel , seu conhecimento e sua entrega em todo o processo foi decissivo, Pessoa sempre de um astral maravilhoso buscando resolver todos os detalhes deixando os clientes satisfeitos.
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Kay B.

Luci was fabulous! Knowledgeable, persistent, and a lot of fun to work with
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Fisk

Luci was always there for questions, making her a huge part in keeping the process stress free. She really cares about finding the best home and the best deal.
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Kent & Lori P.

We contact Luci Edwards after not having much luck with another Real Estate agent in the area. Living in Southern California limited us to our knowledge of the area and current market conditions as well as the logistics of purc...
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Patsy S.

I highly recommend Luci Edwards to anyone in need of professional Real Estate services. I have to know Luci for over six years and during that time my family has used Luci for several Real Estate transactions. She helped us fin...
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Jonnie A.

In 2009, We met Luci when we were trying to relocate to Bozeman. She was a very attentive individual who met all our needs and went out of her way to ensure our transfer went as smoothly as possible. After settling in the area,...
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