First-Time Homebuyer Guide

Buying Your First House

Looking to take the leap this year and buy your first place? Here are 8 steps you should take on your way to your new home.

Assemble Your Home Team

You don’t have to do this alone; team up with local home pros

First things first; it’s time to get a team behind you to help you through the transaction. Buying a new place includes lots of deadline managing, financing requirements, legal contracts and project managing for coordinating the different stages of the transaction – but you don’t have to tackle all of this by yourself.

You’ll want to pick an agent who works in the area you’re interested in buying in and who you feel will work for you to help find the best possible home. You’ll interview and choose a lender to take care of your financing and walk you through your options. You’re also going to need a home inspector, appraiser and possibly other home professionals like a contractor, attorney and surveyor.

Get Your Finances in Check

Find out how much you can plan to spend on your next home

The first step to buying a home in Jacksonville is to find out how much money you plan to spend and how much your bank is willing to lend you. Talk with at least two to three lenders to weigh out your options and choose the one you feel most comfortable with. You’ll compare their origination rates, interest rates and their available loan packages. When you pre-qualify for a mortgage, your lender will look at your income, your debts, your available funds for a downpayment and your credit history.

When they’re done looking everything over, they’ll pre-approve you for a loan with certain terms and a guaranteed interest rate (usually valid for 90 days). Once provided in writing, this pre-approval will help you determine what price range of homes you should be targeting during your home search and gives you (and the seller) confidence that you can get financing for your new home. Read more about mortgages and buyer closing costs here.

Figure Out Your Wants, Needs & Deal Breakers

Everyone’s got a wish list, time to put it on paper.

What kind of countertops, appliances and floors would you like to have? Do you want a big yard or none at all? Everyone has their must-haves and deal breakers when it comes to homes, so start with a list of five must-haves and five nice-to-haves you would want in your next house, along with five deal breakers that you would prefer to not have.

Another big decision is to choose a location. You can narrow your choice to a community (i.e. the beaches, San Marco) or a specific neighborhood (i.e. Deerwood, Crosswater at Pablo Bay) depending on where you feel most at home. Not sure which Jacksonville neighborhood is right for you? Head over to our Jacksonville Neighborhood Guides to see what makes each community

Start Searching for Your Next Place

Hit the streets and keep up with the latest listings hitting the market

Now that you’re clear on what you’re looking for and confident in what you can afford, it’s time to start searching through available homes. Team up with your agent to keep an eye on what’s coming on the market each day, track the latest listings and any price changes through daily emails straight from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and learn what to expect in your community of choice when it comes to average prices, how long a home is typically on the market before it goes under contract and the typical list-to-sale price percentage of homes in the area.

House hunting will involve screening listings online, having your agent pull more information on them to see if they would be a good match and finally going out to look at the homes in person during a private showing or open house. Here are more articles on how to become a house hunting pro.

Make an Offer and Lock It Down

Time to negotiate and get the best terms possible.

You’ve found the home that feels like home, fits your budget and is on point when it comes to your wants and needs; now what? The offer process can be as intimidating as it is exciting, but don’t let all the paperwork throw you. First we’ll draft the Purchase and Sale Contract, a legally binding document that lays out your offer price, financing plan, any inclusions or requests, your ideal closing date and date of loan approval, along with any conditions that need to be met for the deal to go through (such as a satisfactory home inspection).

The seller will look your offer over and either accept it, reject it or counter it with another offer. Talk with your agent when first drafting your offer to discuss what you’re willing to bend on and what you’re not going to budge on when it comes time to negotiate.

Keep on Track with Contingencies

Don’t let a deadline slip by and you’re in the home stretch to closing

Now that your offer is accepted there are three things you’ll want to do right away: 1. submit your earnest money check to the escrow agent (this will be held until closing and credited back to you)  2. Let your lender know your offer was accepted and start formally applying for your loan and 3. order a home inspection.

Once you’ve completed those steps, keep on track with your deadlines and stay in touch with your lender to clear up anything and send in any needed documentation.

Closing Time

It’s time to grab the moving boxes and pass over the keys

This is it – closing day. You’ll be preparing for this with your real estate agent, closing title agent and lender to make sure that every legal and financial obligation has been met. Closing is a team effort, so be prepared to stay in touch.

Show Some Love to Jax

Well that was easy; now it’s time to Give Back Jax!

Choose a local charity you care about and I’ll donate 5% of my final paycheck from the sale towards helping them to continue to make a positive impact in the community.

Have more questions?

We help people buy new homes across Jacksonville all the time – send over a quick email or give us a call if you want to talk more about your options.

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Want More? Check Out the Other Buyer Resources