A Step-by-Step Home 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.

C. Durrett
Daniel F
E. Kadolph
M. Fikar
C. Civil
S. Yarbrough Smith
G. Smith
A. Chitty
Buyer | Seller
Nick T.
Seller
Seller
Beverly Mullins
Phyllis Stanford
Cara Hicks
Eddie Ortega
Connie Rose
Mark Anderson
Corey D
Kayla K.
Lucilia Jean
Jan L.
John G.
Sarah Smith
Rita
ksmith
Nikki
Shayla
Jones
David G
Mark
Buyer
Buyer
susan
SIX BAND
Heather Poe
Sydney Schoen
Daniel F
Liza Rouse
Chris Mayo
Wanda George
Marita Charron
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

I think Judy has telepathy because she always had the resource I needed almost instantly. So, not only was she someone I could get answers from on anything quickly, she’s also the first confirmed superhero that I have ever met. Judy is simply the best!

— C. Durrett

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We hired Chad as our buyer's agent in pursuing a particular, yet somewhat general, type of property and he ended up being instrumental in making sure we got what we wanted for a price that worked for everyone. He was very responsive throughout the process and was an excellent advocate for any concerns we expressed. We can't see us using anyone else for our real estate dealings in the future.

— Daniel F | Five Star Google Review - Chad Hull

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Judy helped my wife and I find a home in Atlanta and she was amazing. We were new to the city and she helped guide us to find a home in a challenging housing market. She really went the extra mile to help us through our first home buying journey. Highly recommend for all, especially if new to Atlanta!

— E. Kadolph

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

I have been involved in multiple deals with Judy, so far two have gone to closing and one is about to. In everything from matters of taste to matters of business sense, she has been a valuable ally in my acquisitions. Would highly recommend her and her firm as great professionals!

— M. Fikar

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

My wife and I think Judy is nothing short of amazing. From day one, she was quite informative, skillful, helpful, and client-oriented. Our experience with her was a breath of fresh air compared to a previous failed attempt. Judy is a smart strategist. She knew how and what to do in all scenarios. She negotiated well on our behalf and worked harmoniously as a liaison between all parties. She offered great...

— C. Civil

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Judy was there every step of the way, giving my husband and me her expertise and kindness. We trusted her and the folks she suggested to make selling and then buying our new home a smooth and easy transaction. I can’t think of anyone else I’d recommend. She is amazing!

— S. Yarbrough Smith

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Judy is one of the most detail-oriented and focused Realtors I know. She works tirelessly, puts together winning contracts and fights hard for her clients. I cannot recommend Judy strongly enough. Put your faith in her when buying or selling your next home. She is a real pro.

— G. Smith

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Judy is amazing! She will go above and beyond for you! She is detail oriented, listens to your needs, is knowledgeable, very responsive and creative! We highly recommend her for buying and selling. Our experience with her from start to finish was wonderful!

— A. Chitty

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Buying and/or selling a house is most likely the biggest and most important purchase someone ever makes. It can be a stressful and emotional time, so much so that the Realtor® you choose is a very important decision. Deborah Morton and the whole Clareo Group team couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive. Throughout the process Deborah and her team went above and beyond to make our experience as smo...

— Buyer | Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

As a first time homebuyer I was very nervous about the process and didn’t know what it would all entail. If you are someone similar, or even somebody who has been a homeowner for many years, I can attest there isn’t a better agent or more trustworthy person to have on your side than Kelsey Woodard. My fears about going through this process alone were quickly put to rest when I was introduced to Kelsey, b...

— Nick T.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We cannot recommend Deborah Morton highly enough for her professionalism in selling our home. Her hard work and dedication was second to none. She listened to our concerns and worked hard to meet our needs. Her tenacious negotiating skills are proven in her industry and we could not be more pleased in our choice. From first meeting to closing table, Deborah walked us through each step with ease and profe...

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Deborah was the best partner we could have asked for when selling our home. She asked the right questions and listened to our needs to sell our home quickly for top dollar. We had a limited time to sell our home. With Deborah’s expertise and process driven approach we had multiple offers within two days of listening. As an added bonus Deborah was not only a trusted business partner, but felt like a trust...

— Seller

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Deborah Morton is an exceptional real estate consultant and I highly recommend her. She is knowledgeable, efficient, thorough and patient and, from our first meeting, my husband and I knew she was someone we could have absolute trust in. She was very well acquainted with the neighborhood and was spot-on in her assessment of how we should price our home. In addition, she provided the invaluable service...

— Beverly Mullins

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Chad Hull was great in helping us buy our home!! He was patient with us in the search for just the right home for us. His attention to details and knowledge were very helpful. I loved how wonderful he was in getting back to us with answers to our questions so quickly. I look forward to working with him in the future.

— Phyllis Stanford

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

If I could give more then 5 stars I would! Whitney was the best agent I could have ever asked for. As a first time homeowner I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What I do know is God put Whitney in my families life for a reason. She responded to every call/email/text no matter what silly questions I had and always gave me more to think about. She helped me pick a great lender and truly "held my...

— Cara Hicks

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We worked with Chad Hull. He was fantastic let us know what was needed always responded back. He was super helpful the whole way as it was our first time buying. Would definitely love to work with him and the team anytime in the future

— Eddie Ortega

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

My Agent Whitney Depasquale is nothing short of amazing with Clareo Real Estate! Her high energy and winning personality she puts into her work and finding the best home for her clients is unsurpassed. Whitney has been with me night and day in the process. I could not have chosen a better partner in finding my dream home. I highly recommend! Clareo Real Estate and Whitney Depasquale!!!

— Connie Rose

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Chad was exceptional. He was proactive and communicated well. Always a quick and thorough response to any questions. From beginning to end, I was in good hands and will certainly use his services again. Thank you so much to Chad and his team.

— Mark Anderson

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Very professional company! Thank you so much for everything!

— Corey D

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Kristi with Clareo is an absolute *dream* to work with! I dreaded putting our house on the market because I felt like it was going to be so much work and stress. Kristi had a stager come and walk us through what we needed to do to get the house ready. Her photographer came in and took amazing photos of our house and even used a drone to take pictures of the lot. She walked us through each step of the pro...

— Kayla K.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Deb is awesome! In today’s market you need a realtor that will keep you informed and advocate for you. She’s mastered the art of negotiating the best deal for her clients…

— Lucilia Jean

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

My agent was Chad Hull. He was energetic, knowledgeable, listened to me when I changed my wishes (several times.) He was persistent, and also fun. I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone. The whole team was helpful as well.

— Jan L.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

The thought of selling your home can be overwhelming. Having the right real estate agent can make all the difference. We found that to be true with our real estate agent, Deborah Morton, with The Clareo Group. Deborah took the time to walk us through the selling process to make it less stressful. She worked diligently to provide us valuable staging and market insight in preparing for the sale of our ...

— John G.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Kristi Laughlin and the whole Clareo Group were amazing to work with! Kristi helped us find the perfect home for our family even in the midst of the chaos of the current housing market. She was so knowledgeable, and we felt so confident buying a home with her help. She listened to our needs, and she was determined to find us the best house to meet those needs. If we ever need to sell or buy again, we wil...

— Sarah Smith

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Looking for a new home isn't easy, but Mari was fantastic, she was so helpful and accommodating. She made the process as painless as possible for us. We truly appreciate all her hard work and help. Highly recommended!!!

— Rita

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We met Mari by chance when we toured an open house, and I'm so glad we did! She worked around the clock, sending us properties we might be interested in and following up on questions we had about zoning, utility providers, and county costs for work we were considering. In the end, she found our dream property and also helped us sell our old house in record time. She thinks of everything! Both deals close...

— ksmith

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

OCC Group was an absolute dream to work with throughout the process of selling our home in the Athens Chicopee-Dudley area. All the members of the team are extremely warm and professional. Kelsey is so well-versed with the ins and outs of the entire process and was truly able to provide helpful strategic insight in terms of how to list, when to list, and what price to list our house for at the time. My h...

— Nikki

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Chad was a great realtor and person to work with. As a first time homebuyer he made my experience stress free, easy and enjoyable. He will definitely be realtor going forward for all my home needs.

— Shayla

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We have been blessed with the purchase of our new home but even more so with Whitney as my realtor. Whitney made this process seamless, stress less and her GOD fearing approach to the process immediately made us comfortable with this process. She is a gem and I would recommend her awesomeness and knowledge to friends and family.

— Jones

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

I have utilized Deborah for a few years now. She is absolutely the best and she will sell your home - or help you close the deal on your new home - in short order. She knows the market. She is an expert in the business and bottom line she GETS THE JOB DONE!!! She stays well ahead of her contemporaries in education and new products in the market. Deborah is simply the best and you’ll be glad you...

— David G

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Deborah Morton exceeded all of our expectations when buying our home. Highly professional, we knew what was happening throughout the process, every step of the way until closing. When I called her about the property, she dropped what she was doing and rushed to the home to help us view it and make sure it was "the house" we wanted. She coached us and an offer was made and accepted within 24 hours. Sevent...

— Mark

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

It has taken me a year and a half to write this review because every time I sat down to try, the words just didn’t come out meaningful enough. I probably still don’t have all the words but I need to document my experience so others know the absolute treasure I found in Deborah Morton. I needed to move from Florida to Georgia in 2020. Covid raging, real estate market going off-the-charts and here’s me,...

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Deborah was a pleasure to work with. We knew exactly what we were looking for and Deborah found it lickity split! She kept us on track and we closed very quickly. Deborah is so knowledgeable and steared us towards the right lender and Insurance Company! There wasn't 1 question she couldn't answer!! Our experience couldn't have been any smoother! We HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!! 10 STARS.

— Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Could not have had a more favorable experience. Deborah was professional, trustworthy, and friendly which made the process of buying a house during a pandemic, while living hundreds of miles away, an enjoyable experience.

— susan

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Chad was absolutely amazing through the entire home buying process. From helping us find houses that met all of our needs and wants to be extremely patient until we found the right one. If you are looking for a patient and diligent realtor, I would highly recommend using Chad to help find your next home!

— SIX BAND

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

We’ve worked with Kristi on multiple sales and purchases and have always had a great experience! Highly recommend her as your realtor.

— Heather Poe

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

My husband and I were looking on Zillow for our first home, and Zillow connected us with Chad and Clareo Real Estate. Chad helped us through every part of the home buying process. He offered excellent professional referrals and honest advice. We really appreciated his experience and kindness, as he was always checking in to make sure we were informed and meeting deadlines. Big thanks to Chad and Clareo R...

— Sydney Schoen

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Chad did a great job as our buyer's agent and really went to bat for us when we needed him to. The office has a lot of resources to make the buying process seamless and efficient. We plan to use Chad in the future if we were to buy or sell.

— Daniel F

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Audrey Johnson took the time to assist us even though she knew there was a high probability that we’d land an owner-managed property during our search - meaning the realtor doesn’t get paid in those instances. Audrey was unfazed by the idea of possibly not getting paid for assisting us! That is the epitome of selflessness and kindheartedness. We cannot say enough about how this young woman (who also has ...

— Liza Rouse | Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

After over 50 years of buying & selling all types of real estate, Deborah Morton & her associates are absolutely the best realtors that I have ever utilized. Their market knowledge is superb & they truly provide an unparalleled level of service to their clients.

— Chris Mayo | Buyer

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

I am so glad that I found Lawana! With this being my first experience in home buying, she is exactly who I needed. She is knowledgeable, patient, and quick to respond to my calls and texts. I must say, this has been a great experience with Lawana.

— Wanda George | Recommend Lawana Ludd, Expert Local Realtor In Acworth Georgia

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

"We were randomly matched with Lawana through Zillow, and we are so thankful we were! From the first phone call, she made a personal connection with us and put us at ease with the buying process. She was easy to get a hold of, quick to respond, and genuinely had our best interests in mind. We never felt pressure from her, and she constantly went above and beyond and thought outside of the box when it cam...

— Marita Charron | Would Recommend Lawana Ludd, Top Realtor In Acworth Georgia