Top 10 Tips for Buying Your 1st Home When You’re Not Filthy Rich

They say purchasing a property is the biggest purchase one will ever make so why not make it as simple as possible. Use these steps as a guide to ensure you make the best possible decision.

1. Get a Pre-Approval Letter.

It’s free and shows the listing agents you are serious.

Many blogs will tell you to start with research but the key is to see how much you can afford first. There is no better way to find out what you can afford then getting preapproved by a lender. Find a lender by looking for financial institutions that will provide a mortgage.

The lender will:

  • Be able to help you decide what amount you can spend on a new home.
  • Check your credit score, ask your income, your savings, and debt.
  • Ask if you expect financial help in the form of gifts.

Underlying keys:

  • You are building a relationship with the lender, which will come in handy later on.
  • At the same time don’t feel like you have to go with the lender you got the pre-approval letter from.
  • Continuing looking for the best lender no matter what.

Please be advised:

When the lenders check your credit it will affect your score

Factors to keep in mind are:

Find a home that is no more than three to five times your annual household income.

There are national down payment assistance programs.

There are local down payment assistance programs.

Some lenders will provide credits(money) for down payments.

2. Do a Little Research

The lender will provide a real estate agent they work with, but you do not have to use them just yet.

Now that you know your spending power, get online and start using sites like Zillow, Realtor, Trulia, and to find your areas of interest. What’s available will be solely dependent on the market condition, which varies drastically depending on significant factors.

Look at properties within your price range.

Weight the pros and cons of your areas of interest and the types/styles of property you want.

Check off as much as you can on your “must have” list.

Check out Craiglist and county property auctions to get a good idea of what is out there in your areas of interest but often those properties are unique circumstances.

3. Find an Agent or Agency

An agency will have more access to properties and can grant you access to an “MLS” database.

In Atlanta for example, a lot of the properties on Zillow are already gone by the time you contact someone or someone is close to making an offer.  Your agent has relationships and contacts with other realtors that can help find properties that just went on the market or the buyer backed out of, etc.

4. Schedule a Day to View Multiple Properties

(Preferably within Miles of Each Other)

If you have a good agent, they will ask what date and time works best for you and can set up appointments to few multiple properties on the same day and hopefully around the same time in the same area.

Make sure you think about:

The down payment

The closing cost

The home association fees and other monthly costs besides the mortgage.

Make sure the home association’s rules and regulations are manageable for you.

5. Make an Offer

You found your new home, so now it’s time to get it.

Get approval from your support group (parents, significant other, friends, coworkers).

Consult with your agent if you go under, right at, or above the asking price.

Make your offer!

– Due Diligence Period  –

Before completing the purchase have the property investigated for potentially costly problems. If you find issues you can negotiate the price with the seller.

6. Earnest Money

You will be required to provide a payment of 1% of the total cost of the property. It is a sign of good faith. The money is held in an escrow account and can be refunded during the Due Diligence period. If at any time you feel like you want to walk away you can without penalty and you get the deposit back.

7. Inspection/Appraisal /Home Insurance


Hire an inspector to look through every inch of the home to ensure there are no major issues including the foundation, HVAC systems, termites, and/or a leaking roof.


The lender will usually require an appraisal to ensure the property is worth what the seller is asking for. He/She will let you know what the property is worth in a fair market. The appraiser is chosen by the lender to maintain a level of independence from the buyer and seller.

You will receive a detailed report about the property and it will have comparisons to similar ones in the neighborhood.

Home Insurance:

Call your car insurance and get a quote. If there is no discount or you are not satisfied with the price, shop around.

8. Negotiate

Now is the agent’s time to shine. You have all the information you need about the property, now is the time to try to get the best price.

9. Don’t Use Your Credit

The lender will be watching your credit while the process of the purchase is still going on.  A big purchase could change your debt-to-income ratio. A huge change could result in you not getting the mortgage loan. A lot of people rush to the furniture store to furnish their new home and end up not getting the loan needed for the home they wanted since their debt-to-income ratio changed negatively.

10. Close

The closing attorney will schedule a date, where the buyer and seller will sign all the paperwork.

You will meet the seller, the seller’s agent, your agent, and the closing attorney to sign all the paperwork for the lender, the closing attorney, and the seller.

Things to Have On Hand:

The Down Payment

The Closing Cost


Just in case you need it, here is my 5-star agent’s info:

Michelle Barraclough is a licensed Real Estate Agent from Mark Spain Real Estate in the Greater Atlanta Area.

For more information:

Contact Me Today for Your Digital Marketing Needs


Phone: 678- 626–7610

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