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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 our team will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help you enjoy the journey as much as possible.


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.

Decide on Your Budget

Notice we 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.

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.

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 agents like us to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will we help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but we also have a knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where our expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let us show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

A grand two-story white house with six-over-six shutters, a stone pathway to the front door, and a front fountain and lawn.

Find the Right Home

This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). We 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.

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. We 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.

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. We 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.

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.

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.

A living room with a large, gray sectional couch facing a fireplace.

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.

A white house with a black roof and a driveway. The house is large and has a lot of windows.


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

If you are looking to buy a home, I’d highly recommend First Properties. Kent and his team made purchasing my first home a very enjoyable process. I started into the home-buying process very stressed and with a lot of questions, but quickly found that I had nothing to worry about. Kent explained everything very clearly, was patient and extremely helpful through the entire process of searching for the rig...

— Josh H.

What Our Clients Say

My relationship with First Properties began 12 years ago and is still my #1 resource for real estate needs. The relationships I have built with this company goes beyond purchasing a house. Every professional associated with First Properties is just that, a professional and leader in their field. From inspectors, appraisers, agents, and loan officers. I have recommended their services to everyone I know a...

— Anastasia C.

What Our Clients Say

Our experience with Karen Glenn and First Properties of the Carolinas was absolutely first rate. From the first contact to follow up after moving in, they made the process as painless as possible. We relocated from Illinois and most of our communication was through the phone and email. Our agent, Karen Glenn, actually went to the home we were considering and to photos and a video tour, before we travelle...

— Ray H.

What Our Clients Say

I've worked with First Properties of the Carolinas on two occasions over the last five years. Once to purchase a home and second to sell a home. So, I feel I've worked with them on both sides of the process and they did an excellent job each time. I have worked with two different agents, Karen and Janet, and both are wonderful. To me it shows the support they have behind them to be able to take the time ...

— Kirstie A.

What Our Clients Say

First Properties of the Carolinas has helped me find and purchase my dream home. Jennifer is an outstanding agent. She is very quick to communicate all happenings in the home-buying process. Even with all of her other clients, she has made me feel like my needs in the home-buying process are her top priority. I am not one to usually suggest services, but because of the outstanding service I’ve received, ...

— Tara D.

What Our Clients Say

Karen Glenn helped me through the sale of my home after my husband died. She worked tirelessly in helping me arrange a wonderful contractor to make needed repairs, a landscaper to improve curb appeal, and helped me find a lovely new home closer to my children. She was not just my Realtor®, she became a trusted friend who helped me navigate a difficult time. And, every person I interacted with at First Pr...

— Jan T.

What Our Clients Say

Karen gave a lot of time and energy when I first came to Charlotte almost 12 years ago. She is personable and shows great interest in her clients. She took me to several communities to find the right place for me as a single woman. Even when I found a townhouse For Sale By Owner, Karen willingly helped me as the Buyer and the Seller to come to an agreement and signed a contract. I have lived here all thi...

— Amy S.

What Our Clients Say

We worked with Karen Glenn to purchase our first home and really can’t say enough good things about her. She is knowledgeable, approachable, personable, endlessly patient, and incredibly generous with her time. Her honest feedback really helped make the process seamless. She answered every question and explained every form and every part of the process clearly and thoroughly. When we're ready to sell and...

— Ashley S.

What Our Clients Say

Kent Van Slambrook is great to work with. He listens to what you want as a client and works diligently to find those elements in your new home in the area you would like to be in. He was great at selling both mine and my husband's homes very quickly so we could move into our dream home together. I highly recommend him and his team if you are looking to buy or sell your home.

— Allison W.

What Our Clients Say

Karen is awesome. She treated me like family. I could tell she cared just as much as I did about making sure I bought a house within my price range and in a good neighborhood. She was very thorough and made my first homebuying experience a breeze.

— Erin F.

What Our Clients Say

First Properties of the Carolinas has helped me manage my rental properties for over 5 years. Michelle is always a pleasure to work with. I recommend this business if you are looking for a great property manager to assist with your residential rental properties.

— Bryan H.

What Our Clients Say

They were such nice people to work with! They made this process amazingly easy and smooth especially since we were working with them remotely. Not only did they take care of selling the house, they also made sure our tenant vacated the property, and made sure the house was in sellable condition. All the while assuring us every step of the way!

— Charlene H.

What Our Clients Say

I've worked with Michelle Human over many years and have to say she has just been such a pleasure to work with. We have never lived close to the state our home is in and she has ensured we get nothing but great renters in and ensures our home is taken care of while we are not there. She always puts our property a priority and works with us when we need a repair or upgrade. When you live outside the state...

— Stacy M.

What Our Clients Say

As someone moving from out of state, we had all of the typical hurdles to jump over. Unfamiliar with the area? Absolutely. Paperless Log In Unsure of which property management companies to work with on a rental? Even more so given the national chain congestion and the myriad of call-trees and expensive application fees. On a tight timeline with properties renting in days? Definitely. Get more reviews And...

— Logan C.

What Our Clients Say

Wow - a realtor that gets it. Julie went above and beyond - great patience and guidance. After using First Properties for property management for over 10 years we teamed up with Julie when it came to time to sell. Super knowledgeable and great contacts for repairs or any other needs. HIGHLY recommend!

— Forest S.

What Our Clients Say

Wonderful experience! Kent handled our sale and purchase with warmth and competence. It was a joy for our whole family to work with him. Highly recommend Kent to anyone buying or selling the Lake Wylie area!

— Caleb S.

What Our Clients Say

Kent is truly one of a kind. We have moved 5 times and lived in 5 states. Kent became more than just our realtor. He has become a great friend. This is our 2nd home he has helped us with and you never have to worry that he is not looking out for your best interest.

— Eric S.

What Our Clients Say

Kent, was very straightforward with us during our search. He pointed out things that we would not have noticed as well as what may turn into future problems. Communication with him was very professional and open with him being willing to travel to various locations in a day for viewings. We’re very thankful for his knowledge in the field and with negotiations.

— Erica G.

What Our Clients Say

Kent patiently showed us homes for over a year. His knowledge of the area was extremely valuable as we decided on our exact location on Lake Wylie. He was honest, knowledgeable and always accessible. We could not be happier and highly recommend him.

— Carol B.

What Our Clients Say

I’ve been a client of Kent for over 20 years. He has helped buy & sell multiple houses. Professional, knowledgeable, and fun to work with! Kent sold our last house in less than 24 hours for above asking price!

— Hunter B.

Our Goal Is to Provide You With the Most Personalized Service That Is Designed to Help You Buy Your Dream Home

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