Thinking of buying your first home?

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

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

Step 2: 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.

main image secondary image

Step 3: Get Prequalified or Preapproved

If you require loan financing, meeting with a lender or mortgage broker to determine how much you can afford is an extremely important step you'll need to take prior to starting your home search. This will save time in your home search, and improve your negotiating position with the seller. 

PREQUALIFICATION

Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is an increasingly popular practice among buyers who don’t want to worry about going through the approval process until after they’ve found the home they want. It is a verbal exchange in which the lender tells you in advance approximately how much money you are able to borrow, based on the information you provide the lender about your debt and income.  

PREAPPROVAL

The pre-approval process goes a step further than pre-qualifying. Most lenders require you to furnish documents (tax returns, check stubs, etc.) to pre-approve your loan. A pre-approval is an actual commitment to lend you money, provided that, when you are ready to buy, you still meet all the qualifying conditions that were met at the time of conditional approval.  

main image secondary image

Step 4: Choose a Real Estate Agent

Not only will a Prospect agent help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but our agents also have a wealth of knowledge of the Austin real estate market. 

Our goal is to provide you with the most personalized service that is designed to help you buy your dream home.

main image secondary image

Step 5: Find the Right Home

This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). Decide which neighborhoods you want to live in and whether you want a new or existing home. Consider requirements –such as the number of bedrooms or price range, and preferences – such as whether you would prefer a 1- or 2-story home. Your real estate agent will set up a property search to show you homes that will fit your needs. From there, you will communicate with your agent about which properties you’d like to tour!

CRITERIA TO THINK ABOUT:

 

  1. Neighborhood
  2. Price range
  3. Number of bedrooms/bathrooms
  4. Is a home office, game room, or media room desired?
  5. Number of garage spaces

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.

main image secondary image

Step 6: Make an Offer

When you find the right home, your agent will provide a comparative market analysis (CMA) and will review market conditions with you to decide whether to present an aggressive or competitive offer. Your agent will explain all documentation and negotiate terms that are in your best interest. The process may go back and forth a few times between you and the seller.

WHAT AN OFFER ENTAILS:

  • Your offer will be in writing.
  • It will be accompanied by earnest money (typically 1% of the purchase price) to show good faith, as well as an “option fee” to the seller guaranteeing your right to terminate the contract for any reason within the option period.
  • When both parties agree on the terms, you are officially “under contract” and the contract is executed on the date the last party signs and/or initials all changes and notifies the other party. 
  • Your earnest money and option fee will immediately be cashed by the title company and later applied to your purchase price.
main image secondary image

Step 7: Option Period

With an "Executed Contract," you start the negotiated Option Period, usually 7- 14 days. Final details are handled and you’ll have an inspection performed to ensure the property is perfect for you. Your agent will negotiate contract details such as repairs or a price reduction to complete repairs. During this time, you’ll need to arrange insurance for your new home. The title company will also provide a Commitment for Title Insurance for you to review. 

THINGS TO DO DURING THE OPTION PERIOD:

  1. Arrange for an inspection of the property. This must be completed during the option period so that if something is discovered during the inspection (that you cannot live with and the seller is not willing to fix), you can cancel the contract and have your Earnest Money refunded.
  2. Immediately following the Inspection, your real estate agent will typically complete an amendment to the contract that will include items the inspector discovered that you want to be repaired by the seller, or a monetary repair allowance in lieu of repairs. 
  3. From there, your agent will negotiate on your behalf with the seller for the repairs you want to be completed.
  4. Once an agreement on repairs to be completed has been reached, you will typically forfeit your right to terminate the contract.
main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

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.

main image secondary image

Step 10: Closing Day

You made it to closing day! Your closing will occur at the title company. If you’re making a down payment, the title company will provide instructions on how to submit that payment. You will also need to bring your photo ID! Possession of your home will occur when your lender releases funds to the seller.

Congratulations!

You are now a homeowner!

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise helped sell my condo downtown encouraging me to "stage" my home which made all the difference. Even though she was my agent she was the one who brought a well-qualified buyer to the table. She negotiated a fair price in the range I was hoping for and the timing was perfect. Denise then helped me search for a detached home. Because homes in my price range and chosen neighborhood were selling quickl...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Christy Neikirk ... turned out to be absolutely wonderful. I had signed a long-term contract on a high-end rental property in north Austin. Unexpected lifestyle changes forced me to find an appropriate tenant to fulfill my rental obligation. Christy converted my pressing problem into a solution that worked for all parties involved. I found her to be efficient, fast-acting, quick to return my calls, and a...

— Suzy B.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We have had the pleasure of working with Jeff Fischer to help us sell two houses and find 2 homes to buy in the last 15 years. Plus, he referred us to someone reliable for a refinance cycle. We have found Jeff to be honest, hard-working, and able to explain the process in easily understood terms. I also referred Jeff to a friend who had the "house from hell" to sell. He never gave up, and despite many se...

— Buyer & Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Naomi exceeded my expectations and was eager to take care of me from day one. I needed to find a rental within two weeks in a city that I couldn't visit before moving there a couple of days before starting a new job. I never visited the city before either and Naomi helped me find a great place in my budget in a couple of days. She anticipated my needs while also taking my feedback to heart when sending m...

— Joe R.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise helped my husband and I buy a home in a town that she had not yet been to, nor had I. She was so prepared, confident, and energetic, we found our home that very same day. I trusted her so much, my husband actually bought the house without me seeing it first. She recommended it and we went for it. She was right on. We are So thankful that Denise was our agent. She made everything so seamless, and e...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise Bodman was great in helping me buy my first property, a condo in south-central Austin. I was new to the home-buying experience so she guided me through the process, starting with looking at different places for sale, recommending me a mortgage agent, and then pushing the contract through the seller. We ran into some issues with the closing date but Denise was able to work through them and I was fi...

— Amy C.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
The experience was amazing! I was a first-time home-buyer and Jeff educated me on the whole process with a thorough explanation that was easy to understand. Together, Jeff and Christy stayed on top of every part of the process, minimizing most of the effort for me. There was even a problem with my lender that was going to affect the closing date and incur penalty costs, but Jeff expertly took control of ...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise Bodman really knows downtown Austin and the surrounding neighborhoods. I found her by going to several condo open houses specifically to interview and find an agent who not only knew all of the downtown buildings but would also be honest with me about them. She helped me find the right building and condo unit at a great price, and then guided me through a short sale that closed quickly, and on tim...

— Sarah S.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Jeff has helped me over the years to buy three houses in different parts of Austin and successfully listed and sold our house in Dripping Springs. He is very knowledgeable and experienced, patient, friendly, and responds almost immediately to communications. He has also helped me find and rent two residential properties, helping me snatch one of them up in a high-demand area in Westlake at a bargain pric...

— Samuel F.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Jason's expertise helped us find the perfect home. He was punctual, professional, and has in-depth knowledge of the market and city. Looking for a new property is always a stressful time. We have certainly landed on our feet to find such a gorgeous and well-presented property which is also backed by a professional and efficient agent who has made the process as easy as you can imagine. We cannot thank Ja...

— Danny P.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I had such an amazing experience with Georgia, which is especially impressive given how challenging I made it on her! I gave Georgia some crazy expectations. She delivered so many amazing choices, I honestly had trouble choosing one. She was so patient with me, my million questions, and helped me navigate the best option for me in the long term. I'm so happy with where I am now and could not be more grat...

— Mackenzi W.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Emily helped me with my new home in Leander and I couldn’t be happier! Since I live in California, I was worried it will be hard to purchase a new home from so far, but Emily was always ready to take a drive to the places I was interested in, and we FaceTimed each time to virtually visit the listings. I also wanted to note that she has this zen attitude that will magically calm you through the stressful ...

— Juri M.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Chris is an awesome person to work with - with a great eye for detail, extremely prompt, on "your" side, and at the same time keeping the human touch with the situation. My partner and I have worked with Chris continuously for a number of years now and the thought of using someone has not crossed our mind even once. We need something - we call Chris and he responds every single time, promptly. Can't reco...

— Sundeep C.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Last fall I decided to buy a condo in Austin. Working with Alyssa Lieberman made the process of finding and buying our property as easy as possible. She really listened and made sure she understood what I was looking for. She was knowledgeable, thorough, incredibly helpful, and responsive, both before and after we purchased our condo. She gave excellent advice and her expertise was invaluable. I highly r...

— Leslie T.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We were relocating to NY and wanted to sell our property or lease it out as quickly as we can, Denise Bodman was able to lease our property within 3 days, and later before that lease got over she was able to sell the property. We found her extremely knowledgeable about the Austin market, she was proactive on every single step. She made the entire process from leasing to selling extremely smooth for us.

— Rajesh M.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Christy is so great! I would definitely recommend her. When we bought our new home (that she found for us), she was with us every step of the way. Even when we had a huge problem with our mortgage company, she gave us support and tips to help us finally get the loan for our dream home. I have already recommended her to all of my friends in the Austin area looking for a house. Her service is golden.

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We have worked with Georgia on several real estate transactions — buying, selling, and leasing. In addition to being a joy to be around, she has provided great market insight and has been — without exception — responsive, professional, and diligent. She gets the job done, regardless of the transaction! I would recommend her without hesitation to any potential client!

— Stella F.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I've known Denise for many years and had no doubt when I engaged her to help me purchase my condo. Knowledge of the market, experience, and following through (on a lot of the simple but important things) confirmed my decision to have her help me. I highly recommend Denise to anyone looking to make an important transaction easy and stress-free.

— Junab A.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Jeff and Christy have been extremely helpful to me on more than one occasion. Jeff has been a real estate professional in the Austin area for many years and it shows. He has so much knowledge of the greater Austin area. Jeff and Christy are always fast to respond and helpful. I would recommend them to anyone wanting real professionals.

— Buyer | Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Jeff Fischer helped me sell my houses a couple of years ago and Christy Neikirk helped me find a house to lease very recently. Both Jeff and Christy were great and very professional. Both the sale of my houses and finding the rental property they stayed patient and informative the whole way through. I would highly recommend them both!

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I couldn't have asked for a better experience than what I got while working with Alyssa Lieberman with Prospect Real Estate. She was proactive and worked with us every step of the way for over a six-month period. She truly made our experience as easy and successful as possible and I can't sing her praises enough!

— Keaton G.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Without a doubt, we could not have made it through the home-buying process without Alyssa. She helped us through each step of the process, advocated for us at every opportunity, and went above and beyond to ensure that we were totally in love with our new home. We cannot recommend her services highly enough!

— Lola Less & Matt G.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise did a fantastic job selling my downtown Austin condo! Not only was it a fast process but it was an easy process! I have been recommending Denise to everyone I know. She's professional and knows her stuff! We have had two transactions with Denise and working on a third! Thank you so much!

— Nicole C.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We worked with Christy to lease our rental house near campus. From the beginning, she was responsive, organized, and was able to have our house under contract quickly, despite COVID challenges. We would definitely work with her again and recommend her and Prospect Real Estate's services!

— Kimberly H.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise is the ultimate professional, delivering complete and thorough real estate services. I've relied upon her now for both purchasing a property as well as renting it out, and in both situations, she has been outstanding. I would wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone in the market!

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I worked with Christy Neikirk on a condo purchase back in August and it was a great experience. Christy was attentive, informative, and thoughtful in her advice. I could tell she is very experienced, and she knows the Austin area like the back of her hand. Would recommend it to anyone!

— Sam C.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
We highly recommend Emily as she is great to work with. She is attentive to details, responsive, and always follows up on outstanding items. We feel that we are in trusted hands purchasing our future home in Round Rock without physically being there ourselves. Thank you, Emily!

— George & Noel W.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I worked with Emily to find a rental home and she was on top of it! From initial communication to signing the lease was about a week. Her communication, professionalism, and positive attitude are unmatched. I would highly recommend Emily and this company to anyone!

— Matt Mc.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Emily did a great job listening to my needs and making sure I am comfortable and happy during the entire process! She was honest about each listing and made sure we got a great deal! I would highly recommend anyone looking for a house in Austin to go with Emily!

— Shannon N.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Emily runs a tight ship and her agents respect her. She sets high standards and delivers to the customer. She and her agents go above and beyond. In the past, I’ve dealt with unscrupulous agents. Luckily, Emily contacted her lawyer and proactively dealt with them.

— Sachin P.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise is an amazing Realtor® that provides a very professional service. She has great attention to detail and will take care of all your needs. She is a blessing to work with and I highly recommend you check her out! You are in good hands working with Denise.

— Artemis K.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise was a huge help before, during, and after. She followed up with me almost daily and made phone calls instantly if something had not been processed or sent. Loved working with her and looking forward to using her again when the time comes to buy a house.

— Kady A.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Chris was awesome throughout the leasing process. He was very prompt when responding to questions and was very knowledgeable about the house, the landlord, and the area. Thank you so much for helping us find our new home!

— Chriss B.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise is a very personable intelligent real estate broker in our opinion. She is especially knowledgeable in the downtown area. We used her to buy the condo and we used to sell the condo for us. She is very responsive.

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I am new to the Austin area, and Jason has been the biggest help. I am super thankful for his positive and honest attitude as well as his work ethic. I definitely recommend Jason; you will appreciate him very much!

— Jennifer T.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Georgia made the process of buying our first home incredibly smooth and easy. She gave us great advice and communicated everything beautifully. We are so thrilled that she helped us find and buy our dream home.

— Camri H.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Jason helped me to purchase a condo and find a new tenant. He is very professional and responsive. He did above and beyond to help me in the process. I am for sure going to use him again next purchase.

— Kim K.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise is excellent at what she does and is a pleasure to work with. She is knowledgeable, professional, efficient, and knew exactly what we were looking for. I can't thank her enough.

— Aga S.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I was very happy with the help provided to me by both Jeff and Christy. They work well together and were very responsive to all of my inquiries. Yes, I would seriously recommend them!

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Denise Bodman had done a wonderful job helping our family navigate the roller coaster ride of Austin real estate. She is accessible, responsive, and a true pleasure to work with.

— Jodi M.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Christy was very helpful in finding our family home with our specific needs. Christy was very understanding and very helpful and very knowledgeable about any questions we had.

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
Great business with caring and thoughtful service that is customer-focused!! You don’t want to go anywhere else! They take care of their customers!

— Lisa E.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I highly recommend using Jason Botello as your Realtor®. He is incredibly responsive and truly cares about the well-being of his clients.

— Charlie H.

Work With Us

Start your home search today with a Prospect Real Estate agent by your side.