How to Buy a Home: A First-Time Home Buyer's Guide, Part 1

Real Estate Agent with Beringer Realty

How to Buy a Home: A First-Time Home Buyer's Guide, Part 1

It’s no secret that I love working with first-time homebuyers in Champaign-Urbana, IL. I love seeing their excitement in finding the right home and eventually, finally getting the keys handed to them. I also thoroughly enjoy being the one to explain the "ins and outs" of the home buying process to them, and often I discover during our initial consultation that the first-time home buyer isn't really sure where to start.

If you’re thinking about buying your first home, but you don’t know where to start, then this series of articles is for you! We’ll start with Part 1 today, and every day or two I’ll post the next step until the keys are in the buyer’s hand:)


Champaign IL Homes

Part 1: Finding a Real Estate Agent to Represent YOU!

A good real estate agent will guide you through the home buying process from start to finish and be there at every step along the way to answer your questions, help solve problems, and make recommendations that will be in YOUR best interest!

Your real estate agent's responsibilities will include:

  • explaining the benefits AND the downsides of home ownership so that you understand the decision that you're making
  • counseling you on the homes available that fit your criteria & budget
  • recommending lenders and other local professionals you will need during the process
  • assisting you with all contracts, disclosures, and decisions to be made
  • negotiating on your behalf for the best price and terms
  • making recommendations involving the home inspection
  • following-up with your lender and the listing agent to make sure contingencies are met and the transaction is kept on schedule
  • and advising you during any problems or issues that are encountered on the way to closing.

While it may be tempting to jump right into looking at homes, it would be wiser to begin the home buying process by researching real estate agents in your area. A good agent should be willing, even excited, to meet with you for an initial consultation where this person will ask you lots of questions about your situation and give you the opportunity to ask your own questions, as well.

It’s important that you find an agent to work with who you trust and get along with, because you will end up spending quite a bit of time with this person over the coming months...

How do I find a reputable agent?

The easiest place to begin looking is online. These days, most real estate agents have their own websites and often are active bloggers or participate in social media. You can do a search for real estate agents in your area, and you can search for neighborhoods that interest you to see which agents provide information, and are therefore probably more knowledgeable, about your preferred locations.

Another great option is to ask friends and family if they would recommend a real estate agent that they've worked with in the past. If they had a good experience (or even if they had a bad one) I'm sure they'll be happy to share!

When you've found an agent you like, simply give that person a call or send an email, and ask to get together. A good agent will be delighted to assist!

Why not just contact the listing agent when you want to look at a home?

The dilemma is that the listing agent works for the seller. Therefore, anything you say and any enthusiasm you show will be relayed to the seller. If you decide to purchase a home shown to you by the listing agent, your negotiating position may have been compromised.

By hiring your own reputable agent to work with before you start looking at homes, you can rest easy knowing that this person represents YOU. Any confidential information you share with your agent remains confidential. Your agent will be the one to show you any and all homes you are interested in seeing, and that means you can ask questions, show enthusiasm, and express concerns freely.

Ready to get started?

You’re probably aware that the purchase of a home may be the largest investment you’ll ever make. So do your homework and find an agent who will help you make good decisions and protect your interests throughout the transaction. After all, that's what we're here to do!

Any questions about the first step? Let me know! Otherwise, continue on with part 2

*This home buying guide is specific to the Champaign-Urbana, IL area. Practices may vary in other locations.

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Shannon Lewis is a Realtor® and broker at Beringer Realty located in Urbana, Illinois. She and her partner, Debbie Hensleigh, help home buyers and sellers in Urbana, Champaign, Savoy, and many other surrounding communities.

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To contact Shannon with a question, for real estate assistance, or just to say "hey!":

call 217-552-8059, or email

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