Buyer's Guide

A Step-by-Step First Time 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. I may be able to steer you away from certain homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.

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. 

My Testimonials

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Emilia A.

D'Ann helped us buy a house in MD, where we spent much of the house-hunting time at our home in CA. We needed to move very quickly, and within, I think, 2 months we were closing on a house, despite the crazy housing market. She...
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Suzula B.

D’Ann is the best real estate agent I’ve worked with. She is professional, responsive, patient, proactive, and an excellent listener. I moved to the area from out of state. We met and I explained what I was looking for, and wha...
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Nick W.

D’Ann was incredible to work with. Her responsiveness and dedication to her work is unparalleled. D’Ann actively worked through contract negotiations while attending World Series games and even promptly responded to emails the ...
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Ryan P.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with D'Ann. She was purely professional from the start to end. I was purchasing a house from another state, but she made everything easy despite the time difference and geogr...
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Matthew P.

Our Realtor® D’Ann was more than an agent she was our counselor, our confidant, and our trusted ally. She saw us through challenging times and things out of the left-field that couldn’t be controlled or planned for. Even at our...
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Carey M.

When we purchased our townhouse with D'Ann in 2007 we knew when we were ready to sell it one day she would be the only agent we would use. We listed the house this year and she got us over the asking price with an easy, fast se...
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Landon M.

My husband and I had a wonderful experience selling our home with D’Ann. She was very prompt in meeting with us and extremely thorough in presenting a concise plan for the sale of our home grounded in her track record of sales ...
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Neal B.

Never in my life have I worked with someone who is so client-centric. D'Ann responds immediately to texts, emails, and phone calls, and she goes out of her way to do the things that need to be done to make her client's travails...
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Rachel G.

Working with D'Ann was an absolute dream for me and my husband. D'Ann was so responsive, thoughtful, and helpful throughout the entire home buying process. In the current crazy market, D'Ann helped educate us as first-time home...
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Kathy V.

D'Ann found us the perfect 2nd home in Maryland. We so trusted her instincts and professionalism we bought it sight unseen and have not been sorry. She went out of her way to make the long-distance purchase easy. She gave us in...
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Theresa L.

3,000 miles, a pandemic, and a street name mishap, Realtor® D'Ann Melnick helped me navigate these obstacles and never missed a beat! She was responsive to my many questions, no matter how outrageous, and always provided a solu...
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Kerry B.

Working with D'Ann was incredible! She made the first-time home-buying experience a breeze. She is extremely knowledgeable about real estate in the DMV area and was able to answer any questions that I had. She was very communic...
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Joy L.

D’Ann is a consummate professional. She is extremely knowledgeable about the real estate business and the properties in the DC metro area. She helped me buy one property and sell two others in record time. Each time she was hel...
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Paul W.

D'Ann did an extraordinary job working for us as our buyers' agent in the purchase of a new home in North Bethesda. She was organized and professional, on top of all the details of the transaction. She gave us great recommendat...
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Jake C.

D'Ann was super helpful and very quick to respond throughout the entire process! Provided good advice and recommendations to a first-time home buyer! She is very knowledgeable about the market and always provided great advice! ...
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Lauren W.

D’Ann has been beyond helpful! She helped me find my rental and when it was time to buy, she was the best person for the job! She helped me get the first place I found and put an offer in for. She also helped my friend do the s...
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Lily B.

D’Ann made the home buying experience really easy and straight forward. She was honest, responsive, and on top of everything! Couldn’t imagine going through the process without her. Even after purchasing, she still checks in an...
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Reza M.

D'Ann earned my trust the very first time we met and helped me make all the right decisions. Worked with her to buy my first home in the brutal market of 2021. She was very knowledgeable and super responsive and helped me navig...
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Shawn D.

D'Ann made my potentially overwhelming experience as a first-time homebuyer go super smoothly. She anticipated my questions and was there to address my concerns, no matter how trivial. She knows the market, the numbers, and the...
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Meg P.

D’Ann exceeded all of my expectations. She was very knowledgeable of the area And knew every detail of the buying process. She was incredibly responsive and professional. She was there every step of the way and made it a seamle...
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D’Ann Melnick has worked in the real estate industry for more than 20 years and has amassed a renowned class of clientele and unmatched experience.

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