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. 

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We highly recommend Dickerson Team and the wonderful work they put in to help us find us forever home. As soon as we were introduced, they secured appointments to view homes and got us in quickly, which made a big difference fo...
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Seller

Keith Dickerson and his team (although we never had to meet his team because the house sold so fast) were everything they promised to be. Keith came to the house and went through the home-selling process carefully with us. He w...
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Dickerson Team was excellent to work with. My husband and I were uncertain about the timing to downsize. Dickerson Team helped us navigate through the opportunities that were available, and understand the pros-cons of proceedin...
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Mr. Dickerson and his team provided a superb representation in advertising and selling my townhome. Being the second agent to have a contract with me his performance was far superior to the first agent. With Mr. Dickerson, my l...
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Buyer & Seller

Our family has worked with Keither to buy our first home, sell it a few years later, and then buy another home. He made each process easy and fun. He is extremely knowledgeable and professional. He is attentive to the client's ...
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Buyer & Seller

Dickerson Team is the kind of team who genuinely cares about his clients, not just in a professional sense but they cares about their personal lives too. They cares if you are struggling with your move or closing time or anythi...
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Buyer

Dickerson Team was awesome. They are very passionate about his work, and the provided exceptional expertise for our home buying experience. Dickerson Team are knowledgeable about the local market and has a knack for anticipatin...
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Brisgette K.

Brisgette K.

If you are looking for a RealtorĀ®, don't look any further. Keith and his team were nothing but professional and fun. I have moved twice and have used Keith's team only. I wouldn't choose anyone else. He sold my home in 3 days a...
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Buyer

Dickerson Team was the most professional RealtorĀ® we have ever worked with. They did not know the areas in which we were looking, but went above and beyond in researching and finding the right home for us. It was refreshing to ...
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Buyer

5-star experience. It was our 3rd time buying a home and this time around it was absolutely flawless. Dickerson Team was very communicative, patient, and knowledgeable. He was always on top of things and is ready to answer any ...
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Claire H.

Claire H.

We've worked with Keith on two purchases and one sale in Downers Grove and Lisle. We met him at a first-time homebuyer seminar and he's educated us, boosted our confidence, and set attainable expectations for the purchases and ...
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Seller

Keith presented a market analysis that was spot on. Not only did my house sell before it was officially on the market but I received the full list price as well. Keith's team did a great job getting us to closing. The sale of m...
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

Keith is a very professional and knowledgable RealtorĀ®. He goes above and beyond to help his clients and is always quick to respond to any questions-concerns. He made the process as smooth and efficient as he possibly could. I ...
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

I have worked with Dickerson Team on several transactions and cannot recommend him highly enough. Dickerson Team works extraordinarily hard to ensure an excellent outcome. Thorough research, prompt responses, and outstanding kn...
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Seller

Keith's entire team worked really hard for both myself, my neighbors and my family. They listed our homes and fought to get us the most equity in our homes. They also helped us get the best price for the homes purchased.
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Buyer & Seller

Buyer & Seller

Keith knows what he's doing. He knows how to negotiate and make his clients happy. I'm more than happy to refer anyone to Keith Dickerson when it comes to buying and selling a home.
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Seller

A pleasure. That is how I would describe our experience with Keith. From the very start, he had fantastic ideas, executed them quickly, and our home sold in less than 48 hours.
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Buyer

Buyer

I just purchased my first home in 15 years. Keith and his team very were professional and my buying and closing experiences were seamless. I highly recommend this team.
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Stacy P.

Stacy P.

Keith and his team has never failed to be there for us. I can honestly say that we wouldn't have sold our house with multiple offers in the first week without them.
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Melissa W.

Within two years we bought 2 houses and sold 1 with the Dickerson team. Always looking out for the best interest of their clients. I wouldn't trust anyone else.
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