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. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where my expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let me show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

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.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
As a first-time home buyer who grew up in Austin, I could not have been happier working with Alex. It is obvious he really cares about working with you to find the right home, and advocating for you throughout the buying process once you find the right home. He is so friendly, and took time to answer any questions I had about anything from utilities to contracts. A close friend referred me to Alex enthus...

— Aaron

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was absolutely amazing. He was kind and patient with us as we navigated being first time home buyers. He worked with us for over 6 months to find the perfect house for us. A lot of the time, we were out of town and Alex would go and FaceTime us for a walk through of houses. He truly went above and beyond. He answered all our questions (we had a lot of them) and held our hand throughout the entire ho...

— Ayesha

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was by far the most professional realtor we’ve dealt with in 13 years of frequent military moves. He directed the process start to finish like someone who knew exactly what they were doing and had a plan. Our desires and needs were honored, and he took it from there. For once, it felt like we were paying for an actual service being rendered— versus feeling stuck paying realtor fees for an obligatory...

— Ashley

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex makes a difference by being absolutely proactive, quick, available and professional. It was my first time buying and he guided me with all the processes. You need someone like him for a complex market like Austin.

— David

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is the best realtor my wife and I have worked with. He was very responsive and provided quick feedback in regards to the house selections, pros/cons, and insights otherwise we would have missed. Alex is also very flexible and tries to work in your timeframe which I appreciate. I would highly recommend Alex for all your real estate needs.

— Steven

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
My husband and I had the best experience working with Alex! Alex helped us sell our first house and made sure to walk us through everything and answer any questions we had. He really listened to us, fought for the best deals for us, and accommodated every request we had. You could tell he truly cared about getting us the best deal, and we were not just another transaction to him. He was willing to meet u...

— Jordan and Lorin

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex exceeded our every expectation in every way. His guidance and knowledge of Austin and the surrounding area is second to none and he made the process incredibly convenient for us. Alex is professional, responsive and strategic in his approach to finding the right home for his buyers. He is genuine and has a terrific personality, which made him an absolute pleasure to work with. Throughout the entire ...

— Michelle

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was wonderful to work with in every way during the home buying process. He had great attention to detail and noticed what aspects of the home I had most interest in without my even saying just by paying attention to how I toured the house and then he was on top of sending me homes that fit the criteria I was looking for(and didn't send a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't care for). Alex was great at ch...

— Mackenzie

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was wonderful to work with in every way during the home buying process. He had great attention to detail and noticed what aspects of the home I had most interest in without my even saying just by paying attention to how I toured the house and then he was on top of sending me homes that fit the criteria I was looking for(and didn't send a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't care for). Alex was great at ch...

— Mackenzie

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Look no further - Alex is everything and more for what you could want in a realtor. As first time home buyers, he was patient and eager to help us find the perfect house (considering we looked at many to figure out exactly what we wanted). He guided us through a very tough Austin market with ease. He was very responsive and had all the right recommended partners with his same level of commitment to seal ...

— Erin

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was by far the best part of the home-buying experience. He was very attentive to my needs and wants in a home but also the voice of reason in what I could and could not expect. When it finally came time to put an offer in, he had the expertise to make my offer the most appealing, even when I wasn't the highest bidder. His service, knowledge of the area, and overall professionalism completely blew me...

— Paul

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We cannot recommend Alex enough. He was so patient with us over a full year of searching for our first home. He is extremely knowledgeable about the market, and honestly just a fun person to work with. He explained everything very clearly at each step of the process which was so helpful for us as first time buyers. With Austin being such a competitive market, timing is everything, and Alex was prompt and...

— Katherine

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is the best realtor we’ve ever worked with, hands down. We had the pleasure of working with him to buy and sell. He is very knowledgeable about the area, super responsive, and honest. He gave us his honest opinion on homes we were looking at, in terms of pricing, quality, area, etc. He is also a skilled negotiator, and helped us get our new home for the best price, beating out the competition. Addit...

— Ben and Lindsay Hickman

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We had such an amazing experience working with Alex! As first time home buyers we felt totally in over our heads, but Alex was patient, knowledgeable, and accessible. While touring homes he would give us his honest opinion which we really appreciated. Just can’t say enough good things about Alex.

— Victoria

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I can't recommend Alex highly enough. Alex was recommended to us by some friends who had just bought a home and they raved about him. This was our first home buying experience and Alex was helpful, patient, and responsive throughout the entire process. Since this was our first home, Alex started out by explaining the basics of the process and on our first few home visits pointed out specific things to lo...

— Mark

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is the very best. Period. He's knowledgeable, exceptionally responsive, fun to work with, and for us (and many other families clearly), he got the job done. He helped us purchase a house in Brentwood in a competitive market and we are so happy with our new home. Unlike others we've worked with, Alex is upfront and honest along the way. For example, if a house is overpriced, seems like a questionable...

— Amanda

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
There are so many positive things to say about Alex, that it's difficult to know where to start. Luckily, if you read through all the other positive reviews (which I encourage, as they are all accurate), many of the things I wanted to say have already been captured -- I wholeheartedly agree with what others have said 100%.I will add a couple of my own points: 1) Alex is extremely honest in his assessment...

— Stephanie

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
You won't find a better agent than Alex. He's savvy, hard working, and most importantly you can trust him. His reputation is impeccable and to me that is priceless.

— Noelle

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was strongly recommended to us by a friend and it was the best decision we could have made! He was extremely helpful and easy to get along with. As we went through the process Alex was able to answer any question we had and was quick to respond to texts and emails. We loved how he shared his opinion on the houses we looked at and knew what red flags to look for. We would 100% recommend him to anyone...

— Jenna

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We worked with Alex on the recommendation of friends and had a great experience. Alex is extremely knowledgeable and responsive. He was always easy to get in touch with and helped us move quickly on a short timeline. Since it was our first time buying a home, we really appreciated that he took time to explain the process and answer our questions very graciously. He was great at finding listings in our bu...

— Erin

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We worked with Alex on the recommendation of friends and had a great experience. Alex is extremely knowledgeable and responsive. He was always easy to get in touch with and helped us move quickly on a short timeline. Since it was our first time buying a home, we really appreciated that he took time to explain the process and answer our questions very graciously. He was great at finding listings in our bu...

— Erin

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex recently assisted me in purchasing my first home and the experience has been fantastic. Throughout the process, Alex was responsive, punctual, and always willing to take the time to answer my questions. For me, there were a few things that really stood out.First, Alex is patient. One of the things I really appreciated in working with Alex was that he was willing to listen to me. He really took my pr...

— Anonymous

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was with my wife and I every step of the way as we purchased our first home. He treated us with amazing attention and care, even going so far as to pointing out potential problems with some of the houses that we were looking at. My friends have pointed out that their agents didn't do this, and a lot of them wound up buying homes that were problematic. I would wholeheartedly recommend Alex to anyone ...

— Anonymous

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
My fiance and I received Alex's information through multiple friends who previously worked with Alex while buying their homes. We heard high praises and came into the process with high expectations, despite this being our first time purchasing a property. We are both in full agreement that Alex absolutely outperformed the high praise and expectations we had for him. He is an excellent communicator, extre...

— Alec

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I can't begin to describe how awesome Alex is and how well he helped us during our home-buying process. If you read through his other reviews, I can only 110% agree with them. My wife and I had no clue how the home buying process works and only limited knowledge of the Austin real estate market, but Alex took the time to educate us on the process, and he always had an answer to any of our questions. We m...

— Philip

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex helped my husband and me to buy our first home recently and honestly, I couldn't have imagined a better person to help us through the process. Since this was our first time buying a house we had no idea how literally anything works but Alex was very thorough in explaining every little aspect we were unsure about, going through our concerns and answering about a million questions. He was SUPER quick ...

— Marika

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I just bought my first house and couldn’t have had a better experience or a better realtor than Alex! With this being my first house, I was pretty clueless, but Alex made the process easy and as stress-free as buying a house can be. Not only was he professional and knowledgeable, he was extremely personable and seemed to really care. At one point I wondered if I was his only client because he was so resp...

— Tiffany

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is knowledgeable without being patronizing, provides his opinions and suggestions without making you feel like you're being coerced, and had a great feel for what we were looking for very quickly after we were introduced. As our luck would have it, we found the home that we bought while Alex was unexpectedly out of the country, but he managed the process seamlessly and without any delays. Later on, ...

— Mark

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is knowledgeable without being patronizing, provides his opinions and suggestions without making you feel like you're being coerced, and had a great feel for what we were looking for very quickly after we were introduced. As our luck would have it, we found the home that we bought while Alex was unexpectedly out of the country, but he managed the process seamlessly and without any delays. Later on, ...

— Mark

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Working with Alex has completely changed my perception of real estate agents. He was far and away the best person I have worked with, in any industry or any market. I was coming from out of state and did not know much about the Austin market. Alex was extremely knowledgeable of practically every street much less neighborhood throughout the city. He went above and beyond the call of duty throughout our ti...

— Wes

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
The process of purchasing a house, my first, through Alex was an absolute pleasure. He was ridiculously responsive, helped guide me through all of the necessary steps and ultimately led the negotiation process that led to an ultra-fast timeline of 3 weeks from offer to close. I'm so grateful to of had an opportunity to partner with.

— Ryan

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is the perfect agent for anyone relocating to Austin. He is super knowledgeable about the city and each of its neighborhoods, and took the time to show us a ton of houses within our budget. Alex listened closely to what we said we liked and didn't like about each house that he identified based on our first meeting with him, and wound up identifying many more possibilities based on that feedback. And...

— TJ

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
If you are looking to buy or sell a home, look no further than Alex Tapp! We were not even thinking of selling our home until an out of state job offer came that was too good to pass up. We were going to use our realtor that initially sold us our home but we hadn’t been too happy with him... Alex was amazing from the very beginning. He came out and went over everything with us. He was so nice, attentive ...

— Jennifer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We would highly recommend Alex Tapp to anyone thinking of selling their home. As well as being an excellent Realtor, Alex is a very kind, thoughtful and patient gentleman. He knows his housing markets and from getting ready to put the house on the market until the day we closed his knowledge and advice made our house selling process easy and as stress free as possible. He was always available to us to an...

— Don

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We just bought our first house and could not have asked for a better realtor than Alex Tapp! After having a less than pleasant experience with a different realtor with Redfin, Alex was recommended to us by a coworker and we couldn't have been happier! From the moment we met him, he was delightful, knowledgeable, honest, patient, and ridiculously likable. He was phenomenal at communicating clearly and oft...

— Samantha

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex Tapp is an incredible real estate agent. Absolutely top notch. This being my first home buying experience, I brought my parents along to provide their expertise (since they've bought and sold several homes), and they said Alex is the best realtor they have EVER had the pleasure of working with. So this is not just my green opinion as a first time home buyer; it's also the opinion of two seasoned buy...

— Mirage

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
From the moment we interviewed Alex, we knew he was "the one" for us. He was very knowledgeable about the areas where we could find homes based on our price point and commute, and provided an easy-to-use web portal for us to get daily updates on new available homes. He was also always willing to track down information and set us viewings for homes that weren't in his suggested areas but that we found thr...

— Brian

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is a great realtor with passion, patience, sincerity, professional skills, and all those quality that you would expect from a real estate agent. Working with him to close this new home is most pleasant. I would definitely recommend him. My wife and I are first-time buyers from a foreign country knowing nothing about how the buying process works here... He kept us posted about every matching new opti...

— Chijun

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Friendly, professional, knowledgeable, and truly cares. We're amazed to be the proud owners of our dream home -- something we thought wasn't possible with a first home!

— Michelle

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
When we decided to start home shopping in Austin, we asked friends for suggestions on realtors and also decided to check online for the hell of it... We then met with Alex and were immediately impressed. As first time buyers, we had a million questions and Alex was an absolute pleasure to work with the entire way through the process. All the stars for you my man!

— Mike

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex Tapp.. was absolutely incredible - I could not suggest him more! My boyfriend and I began discussing the idea of buying a home earlier this year, and by February we'd decided on the realty group we felt comfortable moving forward with on such a huge decision... We changed our budget and preferred location multiple times on Alex, but he was always patient with us and our indecisiveness. I would guess...

— Alexis

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
My husband and I worked with Alex Tapp.. to find and close our home. As first time home buyers, we knew very little about the home buying process. Alex patiently answered all our questions and was always very responsive. He gave us great recommendations on all aspects of the home ownership and we viewed him as a great partner throughout the entire process.

— Manisha

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We selected Alex Tapp.. for putting our house back on market , after it didn't sell for several months (with another realtor), and we were highly impressed! He is very knowledgeable about the market and gave us a realistic picture about why it didn't sell previously. He was very professional and highly responsive throughout the process. He arranged for a stager who gave us several useful suggestions to m...

— Manasa

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
When you look for a Realtor you need someone with detailed local market insights, responsiveness & an eye for details. if you add in a healthy obsession with constantly delighting the customer, you have struck gold! That's what we got when we were introduced to Alex. He just found a way to make things happen and really prioritized keeping us in the loop at all times. I would highly recommend Alex to all ...

— Audreena

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Having purchased multiple properties in California and now our second in Texas, we can say with confidence that Alex Tapp has been the best agent we have worked with. Alex is knowledgeable about the market, a strong negotiator, great communicator, patient, punctual and always very responsive to our questions. We were very particular about the investment properties we were looking for and he curated and i...

— Ksepka

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We worked with Alex Tapp... to purchase our first home in December 2017. As first-time home buyers, we were completely at sea about the process. We had several questions and had cooked up the most implausible scenarios about home ownership ahead of our first meeting with Alex, who was very patient with us and was able to put us at ease right from the start. We weren't the most straightforward clients to ...

— Ashwin

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We worked with Alex Tapp... and we couldn't be any happier. He goes above and beyond, and we honestly could not have done it without him. He is very responsive and proactive and helps you through each phase of the process. We now own our dream home and it's in large part thanks to Alex. We will be recommending him to anyone and everyone we know who is looking for an agent; the experience working with him...

— Anonymous

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I've now purchased multiple properties ... using Alex as a realtor. I'm 100% satisfied and highly recommend.. for all your real estate needs! Alex is a consummate professional who you should hire and trust with your Real Estate needs! Alex was always ready to show me new places that he thought would fit my new home criteria. I'm an incredibly detailed oriented person who wanted a very specific type of pl...

— Aaron

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex is truly wonderful at what he does! He was patient, kind, sincere and enjoyable to work with. He made us feel that we mattered and that our needs were important to him. He was always quick to respond to emails or phone calls and gave us honest feedback when it came to the market value of the homes we looked at. Moving from out of state we had little knowledge about the Austin area. It was a stressfu...

— Anonymous

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Alex was excellent during the sale of our home, we were on bit of a tight timeline and the process could not have been smoother. All of the information Alex provided us with was accurate and thorough allowing us to make informed decisions about how we listed the home, and the listing they created was beautifully photographed and really represented our home in the best possible way. Additionally Alex was ...

— Mike

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