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Buyer's Guide

Everything you need to know about the process of buying a new home.

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, Research

First, hire us to help you. The Duvall Group is highly trained professionals with an amazing track record that can help any person with any budget. We have won awards as top selling professionals in the industry and have sold over 500 houses in the last 3 years with over $75,000,000 in sales volume. We would love the opportunity to serve you! 


If  becoming a HOMEOWNER is your goal or maybe upgrading your next house, the first step is RESEARCH. Research starts with understanding the entire process of buying a house or getting the right information that can allow you to sell your current house and buy your next one. There's many difficulties that may arise in the process but having the right agent can help ease the situation. Our goal with The Duvall Group is to be there for you every step! We are here to help you get started and get you through the process. Not every transaction is smooth but we can assure you, we will be there for every call/text/email to get the deal completed. 


For new home buyers, we ask that you start reading articles on the process of buying a house. It can help you set financial goals to understand how much you can afford and what to expect during each milestone of the process. We can provide as much information you ask us but doing simple research online can help provide enough knowledge to get your feet wet! 


Step 2: Pre-approval - Find Out What You Can Afford

Now you started to conduct your research or maybe you contacted us to get started, the next step is contacting a lender or traditional bank. Many companies have different processes but we highly recommend using one of our premier lenders who we have the experience working with. We developed a professional relationship with these lenders who know how we work and work very well with us to assure the smoothest transaction possible. To get an official pre-approval, the lender must collect specific information for your financial background and conduct a credit check. The lender can go into details on what that exactly entails but be ready to submit a lot of financial paperwork. We suggest you start collecting bank statements, paystubs, any debt you may have (car payment, student loans, etc.) so you can submit to the lender ASAP. Time is essential when purchasing a house. 


Ask Questions! The lenders are full of knowledge that focuses on the financial side. Ask about your potential mortgage payment, interest rates, PMI, down payments, etc. Don’t just assume because you need guidance and the lender is here to help educate you about the financial side of the transaction. 


Step 3: Would You Look at That? I Love That House!

Time to start HOUSE HUNTING! We now know what we can afford so now it’s time to create our home checklist!


Price - Look for a range, Example: $150,000-225,000. Sometimes you may be approved for a higher amount but would like to stay within a certain budget. Realistically, the higher the price you are willing to go, the more improvements or “move-in ready” the house will be. Keep that in mind because it does cost a lot of money if you have to hire professionals to do work for you. 


Location - Do not limit your search unless you really want to stay in one city. Looking in multiple cities and/or zip codes will provide you a lot more inventory. If you are unfamiliar with the area, go back to the research. There’s sites that show you the area with crime level, school ratings and much more useful information to allow you to understand what that area has to offer. 


Needs vs. Wants - This section is important. What do you need, such as bedrooms and bathrooms? Example: 3 Beds 2 Full baths. Price range does matter because some less expensive houses may not offer exactly what you need unless you increase your price and find those specific houses. Present us with information that will help us help you. Example: 3 Beds 2 Full baths 2 living spaces and a fenced in backyard. These are more realistic to allow us to help you but if you provide us with ALL of your wants, it will limit your search with minimal inventory. The needs should outweigh the wants because the house you buy may need updated to provide you with your wants later down the road. The more you spend, it's likely you will get more wants with your next house. 


Step 4: Set Up Showings

Every time you see a house that you feel that meets what you are searching for, SCHEDULE IT! Doesn’t matter if you see it online early in the morning or late at night, call/text us and we will get it scheduled. We recommend adding multiple houses so you can view multiple houses in one day but sometimes it doesn’t work like that. Go view a house that looks like it could be the “ONE.” Photos can be deceiving. Some agents have no idea how to take a picture and some hire professionals that make a space look bigger than what it offers. View that potential house to be able to eliminate it from your list. You don’t want to live through that moment of regret. We enjoy looking at houses so if it helps you, it helps us!! 


We can set you up on a housing portal that will send you houses. We also recommend you register with sites like REALTOR.COM. Sites like REALTOR.COM are focused on presenting available houses on the market, right now. Real time is a true statement. If a house is available, it’ll state that it's FOR SALE. If a house is under contract, it may say CONTINGENT or PENDING. 


“CONTINGENT” in any sense means “depending on certain circumstances.” In real estate, when a house is listed as contingent, it means that an offer has been made and accepted, but before the deal is complete, some additional criteria must be met. A “PENDING SALE” means that a seller has accepted a successful bid from a buyer. This usually means the contingencies have been worked out, and the buyer is locked in on the sale. Although a house may state its contingent or pending, there's still a slight chance it could fall through and you may still have an opportunity to get that house. 

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: Let’s Make an Offer

You found the house! You get this amazing, emotional feeling when you find one! Next step is to make an offer! This usually comes through a system called DOTLOOP. You will need an email so you can electronically sign all the paperwork to make your offer official. We will send you all the appropriate documentation and then once you sign it all, we will start the negotiations with the listing agent and/or the seller. 


Not every offer is considered or accepted. Sometimes we get into multiple offers and have to get strategic to make our offer the best. We offer many strategies we use to help you get the house! More details to follow in a conversation with our group. 


Step 6: Meet Your Contingencies


Now our offer has been accepted, CONGRATULATIONS! The next step is submitting all the paperwork to the title company and lender. The title company will handle all the paperwork with the title and closing will be held at the title company. The lender will start your loan application and will be reaching out to you about specific documents they may need for you to send and sign. This part is extremely important and time sensitive. Make sure you are communicating with your lender on a daily basis. 


Earnest money also EM. Not all contracts have EM but if it does, this is crucial. You will need a personal check or cashier's check of that amount (usually $500-1000, could be higher) and sent to the title company or whichever party is holding this amount. The EM removes the house off the market and is included into your final numbers for closing. You must submit the EM within 48 hours of the accepted contract. If you cannot do that, please inform us and we will discuss this with the other parties and figure out a solution. 


Home inspection. This is for your peace of mind and is not required for every loan type. A home inspection is to help you with understanding every aspect of the house you are buying. The inspector will inspect every major mechanical in the house such as furnace, AC, roof, foundation, etc. Please interview your inspector and ask them questions which they can go into detail with their process. This is usually a buyer's expense and can cost anywhere from $300-800 depending on the type of inspection ordered.


Appraisal. The appraisal is alway required with every loan unless approved by the lender otherwise. The appraisal will be conducted by a third party to make sure our value meets market value. They will look at comparables that have recently sold in the area and apply a cost analysis for improvements that have been done. The lender will order the appraisal and need payment for this which is usually $450-750 depending on the property size. 


Other inspections. Some properties have septics, well, foundation issues, etc. These other inspections are usually added to the contract or are presented after the inspection/appraisal. If items are red flagged, we can do further investigation. Some sellers allow this to occur but everything has to be negotiated and signed off by all parties. There could be other things that may arise in this process but this can be presented in detail later on in the transaction with a group member. 


Getting out of a contract. If you are not comfortable with moving forward, we must follow protocol. Time is sensitive so if you are wanting to be released, we have to do it in the time frame or you will risk losing EM or possibly more depending on the situation. Please speak in detail with our team members and we can provide the information regarding releases.


Step 7: Work With a Title Company

The home buying process will result in a large stack of legal and financial paperwork. The mortgage lender will usually make arrangements for a title company to manage the paperwork process. They will make sure that the seller is the rightful owner of the property.


Step 8: Clear to Close “CTC” Closing Time

We got the CTC!! CLEAR TO CLOSE! We are buying a house! These are the best 3 words in a real estate transaction, CLEAR TO CLOSE! This means the loan has been approved and we have satisfied everything so you can finally close on your new house. The title company will prep all the documents with the lender and set a date/time with them to set up closing. Please make sure you have all the documents you will need for the closing. Once we have signed everything, we wait until the title company states “we are on record.” This now means the house is ours! The possession date is usually negotiated so please speak to our team members and they will tell you when you will receive keys! 


Step 9: Thank You!

We truly appreciate your business and allow us to assist you with the biggest decision of your life. We strive to help you to the fullest and the biggest complements we could ask for is a referral and a review on our page. Not every experience is like our process. You can help a friend and/or family member by giving them our information! We’d be blessed to be able to help them. Also, when you write a review people read them. They want to feel comfortable with an agent and your one review may be the experience they were looking for. We are so happy for you and Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! 


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.

Work With Us

We have proven methods to help you find and sell a house in constantly changing markets. Be represented by the best! It would be our pleasure to serve you, your family, and/or your friends!