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

See why my clients love working with me.
Gerard

Gerard

Joe and his assistant Rachael are amazing. I had quite an unusual request in the fall of 2019. I wanted to buy and have him be my eyes through the whole process because I was buying from out of state. I'd built up savings for 5...
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Decker J.

Decker J.

We feel that we were very fortunate to be able to work with Joe. I was impressed with Joe’s knowledge of the market and his patience. We delayed for some time before deciding to put our home on the market. By the time we did so...
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Shane

Shane

Recently I worked with Joe again on the selling of 2 homes and the purchase of a new home. As I experienced with him in previous times, his experience, knowledge, and savvy as a Realtor® are simply unmatched. He works tirelessl...
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Mark

Mark

Working with Joe as a builder has been unbelievable. Early on I could see Joe's forward-thinking in the central Florida market thus using his broad knowledge, but realistic understanding of existing home sales and the new home ...
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Bryan K.

Bryan K.

First time working with Joe - Corporate relocation from Ormond Beach to Deland. Joe is very patient and places the customer first, above all else. Communication was excellent as was his follow-through. We never felt we were on ...
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Stephen & Bonnie

Stephen & Bonnie

Being in the military for 20 years, I have moved a lot. The level of service and commitment we received from Joseph Doher was excellent. We were apprehensive about selling our house and who we could find that would meet our sta...
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Deborah

Deborah

I am extremely happy I chose Joe to sell my condo. He was always available to answer my question, communicated with me on a regular basis and was always professional. No question was too dumb or insignificant. Joe really knew t...
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Buyer

Buyer

Joseph Doher took a personal interest in assisting us in finding our forever retirement home. He queried us on exactly what we were looking for in a home, both mandatory, and "would be nice to have" features. He only showed us ...
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Buyer

Buyer

Joe helped us find our dream home. He guided us every step of the way and always had answers to our questions. He was extremely helpful and we are very grateful we had someone like Joe with all his experience and connections. W...
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Ron R.

Ron R.

I purchased a property in the Orlando area with Joe's help, and I did it from out of state. Joe went above and beyond to make the transaction a smooth one. He walked us through every step of the way. Also, Joe's experience was ...
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Wong P.

Wong P.

You won't find another Realtor® with the experience, kindness, and patience that Joe has. He takes a true interest in his client's needs and goes out of his way to ensure you have a first-class buying/selling experience. Highly...
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Mike & Doris

Mike & Doris

We have bought two properties from joe and have been very pleased with both, plus the experience with him. He is in the right profession - very personable, knowledgeable, and handles very well any concerns that you may have. He...
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Stephen

Stephen

Joe represented us for the sale of our house, as we live in the UK, we needed a reliable, trustworthy person to act on our behalf. Joe is the man for the job Could not rate high enough, nothing was too much trouble. This is not...
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George

George

I would really like to give a 200% recommendation to Joe, he was spectacular. My wife and I were super pleased with his knowledge, it was like he was buying for himself. The house he got us is perfect. He was on top of everythi...
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Buyer | Seller

Buyer | Seller

I was highly impressed with Joe's overall expertise and knowledge regarding the market and other variables related to pricing and inventory. Joe was very responsive and was able to negotiate an even better deal than anticipated...
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Larry S.

Larry S.

Joseph did an excellent job selling our home! I would hire Joseph again! Joseph has bent over backward for us to get our home sold! Joseph Was on the job 100% and communication is top-notch along with customer Service. 5-star s...
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Max & Barbara

Max & Barbara

Joe was totally involved in the process of selling our home from beginning to end. Joe kept us fully informed and answered all of our questions. All of this was done while we reside in North Carolina. He exceeded all of his res...
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Shaun

Shaun

Joe was great and got my house sold in 4 days. The pics and listing were excellent and he kept me informed through the entire process and always responded extremely quickly. Easiest experience selling a house I've ever had.
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Jack & Christine W.

Jack & Christine W.

I don't typically do testimonials. I will say that Joe was there every step of the way and was very helpful, knowledgeable, and professional. I would hire him if I were you.
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Ruben S.

Ruben S.

It was a real pleasure working with Joe. He was professional, prompt, and courteous. Would hire him without any reservations.
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