A Step-by-Step 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 buyer’s guide will help reduce the stress of buying a home and help provide insights so that you enjoy the journey as much as possible.


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.


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 expenses 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 landscaping, pest control service, water utilities, or HOA fees that could easily put you outside your comfortable budget.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Please read my review to the end and then give Pamela Hoffman a call – you will not be disappointed. We highly recommend her and consider ourselves extremely lucky and blessed to know her. Pamela Hoffman is so much more than a realtor. We felt as if we were working with a longtime friend or family member. You will not go wrong by using Pamela to help you buy or sell your home. How did we find such a gem?...

— Donna & Philip S. | Buyer

Local knowledge, Process expertise, Responsiveness, and Negotiation skills Pamela was such an amazing realtor. Not only was she patient with my Wife and I, really taking the time to show us around Jacksonville, give us a taste for the personality of the many different neighborhoods within Jacksonville. She went way above and beyond our expectations throughout every step of the process; Negotiating betwee...

— Nathan W. | Buyer

Pamela is the best realtor we have ever had the pleasure of working with to buy a home. We bought new construction in FL but lived in NJ. When we first meet Pamela, she listened and asked great questions to get an idea of what we had in our old house and what we wanted in a new house. She is extremely personable and easy to talk to about your dream house. Her knowledge of St. John’s, FL is outstanding. S...

— Maria & Tim S. | Buyer

A month ago Highly recommend Pam. I have never met a more caring, knowledgeable and personable realtor. She is caring, passionate, realistic and helped us achieve our real estate goals. Both what we needed and wanted. My husband and I had a chaotic year, having to remove our listing due to unforseen medical issues then relist months later. While we were very very nervous to disappoint or upset her with o...

— Cara L. | Seller

Working with Pamela was a pleasure. She is very knowledgeable and had a great deal of insight to offer. This housing market was a challenge to say the least, but Pamela was patient with us and made herself available to answer any questions we had with honesty and professionalism which was extremely beneficial. We relocated to Saint Johns from New York. Pre-move Pamela visited homes on our behalf and took...

— John & Maria S. | Buyer

Pamela is the full package and everything you would want in a realtor. She is poised, professional, quick to respond, easy to get a hold of, knowledgeable, patient, and sharp. She knew what needed to be done to sell our townhome and with her expertise as well as her utilization of professional photography and online platforms that broadened the exposure to potential buyers, our property had an offer on D...

— Jevie S. | Seller

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Pamela Hoffman is a top-performing real estate advisor and licensed broker associate who can expertly guide you through your real estate journey. With over 25 years of sales, leadership, and service experience, Pamela provides exceptional service while also making the real estate process fun.

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