First Time Home Buyers - Step By Step Guide

So you've made the decision to buy a home. That's fantastic! Buying a home is an excellent option for financial security and economic stability for you or your family. However, buying a home, particularly for first time home buyers, can often be a confusing and overwhelming process. We get it. Everyone who works at PDX Urban was once a first time home buyer too! 

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Let's break down the process a little bit and hopefully make life a little bit less hectic for those who want to experience home ownership. Keep in mind, there is a lot of nuance that goes into each of these steps, but my goal for now is to keep things simple. As always, you are welcome to sign up for my newsletter and I'm happy to send a more detailed guide. Or you can simply contact us and we are happy to talk over the phone or e-mail.   

STEP ONE - GET PRE-APPROVED

Some real estate agents and many home sellers require that you obtain a loan pre-approval letter before submitting an offer for their home or listing. In the fast paced Portland real estate market this is nearly always true. Pre-approval by a reputable lender is strategically important in the search for your new home. In a seller's market, which Portland has been in for years now, only serious prospects and offers are considered by home sellers.

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The pre-approval process is done by a lender and isn't difficult, nor does it commit you to actually moving forward with a home purchase. It is simply documentation that you have a credit history and income to warrant a loan.

As a buyer, you can choose any lender you wish, however if you contact PDX Urban we can recommend a few. 

STEP TWO - FIND A HOME

Working with a real estate agent that can offer professional service is important. A competent agent will help you find a home you can afford, will recommend good lenders, and will help to guide you throughout the buying process. 

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These days there are a lot of ways to search for homes on the market. Zillow remains popular and their are many others. A good agent will help you search as well. Realtors have access to information about specific homes that may not be published on more popular search sites. In addition, your agent will have the time to dig through listings and find options, not to mention they will be more than happy to tour as many homes in person with you as you want.

Typically, finding the right home is the longest part of the home buying process. Every buyer is unique and it takes time and patience to find the best fit for your needs.

STEP THREE - WRITE AN OFFER

Once you have found the perfect home, it is time to write an offer to the seller. The offer will detail what you are willing to pay for the home, the terms in which you will be making that payment (money down, cash, mortgage, etc.) and the specific condition under which you will deliver that payment (what you will be inspecting in the home and when, what items in the home you want to keep, etc.). 

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Your real estate agent will go through the offer page by page with you and will explain how it works.

Once you submit an offer, the seller has three options. They can either accept your offer outright. They can reject your offer. Or they can submit a counter offer in an attempt to find a middle ground with you. 

STEP FOUR - HOME INSPECTION

The process of inspecting the home begins once an offer is accepted by both the buyer and the seller. The sales agreement should provide sufficient time for you to have the home inspected (10 days is standard). Your Realtor will guide you through this process and recommend qualified professionals you can use who will give you an unbiased assessment of the home. 

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While every transaction is different, at PDX Urban we tend to recommend buyers do a general home inspection, a sewer inspection, and a radon inspection. These three inspections will typically bring to light any potential problems.

STEP FIVE - APPRAISAL

After the home inspection is complete and any repairs or price adjustments have been negotiated and addendums executed, the next step is the appraisal. The appraisal determines the fair market value of the home you are purchasing. A state licensed real estate appraiser is an expert, certified professional who determines the relative value of your home.

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In other words, the bank wants to make sure the home is worth what you are requesting a loan for. Let's look at this another way. A bank is not going to give you a $500,000 dollar loan so you can go out and buy a Honda Civic. A home loan is no different. 

STEP SIX - CLOSING / MOVE IN

Once the appraisal is complete you are now ready to close! The loan documents will be presented to you by the escrow officer and carefully explained so that you understand the important terms. She or he will answer any questions you may have. Many of the documents will be identical to the documents initially signed at the loan application.

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Typically, funding occurs the day after signing. The lender will wire the funds to the escrow company. The offer you and the seller agreed upon will determine the possession date. Arrangements will be made by the real estate agents involved in the sale to secure the keys. 


CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a home owner. That wasn't so bad right? Hopefully after reading this article the process doesn't seem quite so daunting. As always, feel free to contact PDX Urban and we will be happy to talk with you about further details.       

Andrew Kaiser

My name is Andrew Kaiser, welcome to my site! I have a passion for making images wherever and whenever I can. I seek to capture humanity and the world around me with a focus on the figure. Film, digital, pinhole, and instant photography are all fair game for me.


I grew up in the California Bay Area and started taking photography seriously in High School. I was one of the lucky few who had a chance to go to a high school with a working darkroom and a teacher who understood that making images was an art form – care and patience was a necessity in the image making process from start to finish.


Later in life I attended the University of California in Santa Cruz where I received a Bachelors Degree in the History of Art and Visual Culture. After having my fill of the California sunshine I packed up my life and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I quickly found the overcast skies, lush forests, cooler temperatures, and creative communities to be a perfect match for my work.


Over the years I have exhibited my photographs in several galleries and art shows including the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival and Cascade AIDS Project. I’ve published a few books and taught workshops up and down the west coast of the United States. Through this site I’m hoping to share my work and perhaps inspire others along the way.