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.


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.

Gregg + Francine B.
Kris + Jamin M.
Kim + Doug M.
Rita H.
Katrin + Brad B.
Narayan P.
It will be hard, if not impossible, to find a more consummately professional partner than Kathleen. From start to finish she is best in class. Kathleen’s local market knowledge and insights made our transition to The Woodlands virtually seamless. This proved to be an invaluable asset when it came to finding the right neighborhood and ultimately the right home. Furthermore, we benefitted tremendously from...

— Gregg + Francine B.

Kathleen has always gone above and beyond expectations every step of the way. She evaluated our home last year with a discerning eye for the market not knowing if we were ready to list and not knowing if we'd list with her. She helped us assess land in a community in which we were considering building, asking many valuable questions of the agent of the community. She helped us through an exceedingly long...

— Kris + Jamin M.

Kathleen has been our trusted agent on four transactions in The Woodlands and we return to her repeatedly because of her business acumen, pleasant and enthusiastic attitude during showings, and willingness to go the extra yard when representing us on the buy-side. She researches the market thoroughly and presents information to us in a timely manner. She has been extremely communicative and responsive. W...

— Kim + Doug M.

Kathleen delivers that perfect mix of professional and personal service that is rarely found anymore. I was totally impressed with her methods and involvement every step of the way through my home selling/buying experience. Kathleen’s masterful marketing stirred up so much interest that my home ultimately sold for over asking price. She followed that up by securing interim housing for me until my next pl...

— Rita H.

Kathleen was a true professional. We were first-time home buyers, and she did a phenomenal job walking us through the house buying process. When any challenges arose, she knew exactly how to approach each situation and come to a reasonable resolution. She went out of her way to get to know us and to be present and communicative throughout the process. The house buying process felt personalized and she tr...

— Katrin + Brad B.

Kathleen is very knowledgeable about the real estate market and trends in The Woodlands and surrounding areas. Kathleen is a great professional, very detailed and client-focused. She communicates very well and responds to any of the clients’ requests with great speed. In our opinion, she is a niche marketer and factual (without any sugar-coating) in her presentation. The Home Tenders service that Kathlee...

— Narayan P.

Work With Kathleen

With MBA in finance and 18 years of real estate experience gave me the skills to understand the local market contrasted to the current economic environment. Whether you're considering buying or selling a home, you need a Realtor®️ who will deliver exceptional results and superior service, someone who will put your needs and priorities first.