First Time Home Buyer’s Guide

Real Estate Agent with Amanda Fontana Real Estate LLC

Close your eyes and imagine the home of your dreams.


Now open your eyes. Reality hits. How are you going to land that house?


You’ve created Pinterest boards, folded corners of magazines and daydreamed for hours about your forever home, but are you prepared to buy it today? Although home searches and open houses are exciting, the purchase process is more complicated than signing your name on the dotted line.


Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or you’ve been around the block before, you will simplify securing your dream home when you follow these steps:


steps-to-buying-a-home-planSTEP 1: Make a List & Check it Twice

After hours of watching HGTV and scrolling through Moulton Realtor’s properties, it’s no surprise that you have a mile-long “must-have” list. Each of these items may seem non negotiable now, but after you make a list of what you can’t live without, you’ll realize what’s truly important to you.


Jot down details such as:

  • Desired neighborhood

  • School district

  • Lot & property size

  • Security needs

  • Proximity to transport, work and school

  • Amenities


Only include the items you can’t live without and deal breakers you can’t live with. Also, if you’re buying with a partner, parent, or friend, ensure you’re on the same page. Completing this together BEFORE you start the search will allow you to begin with clarity and focus.


STEP 2: Find the Perfect Property Partner

In today’s technology-driven world, buyers often assume they can rely solely on an app or website to purchase a new home. However, this simply isn’t true.


The purchase of a home is a legally binding contract that involves terms and conditions that take years to understand. An experienced realtor is trained to navigate the complicated laws and contracts.


Additionally, as a Des Moines Real Estate agent, I’ve met buyers who search on their own, but when it comes time to buy they overpay by THOUSANDS of dollars. Why? They’re not trained to negotiate. Find an agent who you trust to show you exclusive properties that fit the must-have list you created, but more importantly, work with an agent who will get a dream price on your dream home.


STEP 3: Get Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved is the second most important step, right after finding the best real estate agent. Unlike pre-qualification, pre-approval guarantees that you are financed to buy homes within your set range. It saves time, money, and headaches.


Here’s what you need to get pre-approved for your future dwelling:

  • Pay Stubs

  • Tax Returns

  • Social Security/Disability Statement*

  • Pension Statements*

  • Bank Statements

  • Retirement Statements

  • Drivers License

  • Divorce Decree*


Once you’re pre-approved to buy a house, you’ll know the exact loan amount you’re qualified for to help create a feasible budget. On top of that, pre-approval is a powerful negotiation tool, as it proves seriousness to sellers.


STEP 4: First Comes Love, then Comes Negotiation

Whether you’re a buyer, seller, or both, negotiation is crucial. After your agent finds the house of your dreams, the real work begins.

Your agent will submit an agreed-upon offer to the seller’s agent, and begin the negotiation process. It’s important to hire an experienced real estate agent because the agreement is a legally binding contract that must comply with Iowa’s laws.

*Bonus tip: Increase your negotiation power by submitting a cash offer, getting

pre-approved for a mortgage, or selling your current home before placing an offer.

If a counteroffer occurs, your home-buying partner will continue negotiation and update the offer with the appropriate changes and terms until a final agreement is reached.


first-time-buyers-guideSTEP 5: CLOSED

Now, take a deep breath. Your offer was accepted, and you’re in the home stretch! Pun intended. But...

Before you load up the moving trucks, it’s escrow time.

Escrow includes:

  • Home Inspections: General, termite, sewage, and others depending on your location.

  • Remove Contingencies: If you’re satisfied with inspection results you can remove contingencies from the contract and move forward.

  • Appraisal: Once the contract is agreed upon, your lender will order the appraisal

  • Sign Final Documents: Following the loan approval you’ll meet with escrow to sign final documents and obtain the wire transfer

  • Escrow Closes: After funding is submitted through Title, the did is sent to the county for recording and stamping to finalize the purchase.


CONGRATULATIONS! You did it! You’re a homeowner.

With the right real estate agent, you have a guide to move you through each step of the process and into your dream home. Time to live happily ever after.



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