Steps to Buying a Home

Everyone dreams of owning their own home. Searching for the perfect home for your family can be a very exciting, yet anxiety-filled experience. However, if you know what to expect during the home buying process you will be more relaxed and comfortable knowing that we will be by your side every step of the way guiding you through it and looking out for your best interests. Below are the steps to selling to help you visualize what this process looks like. Don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions and remember we will be there for you every step of the way!


Before the house hunting process begins, it is important to know how much you can afford. Expenses to consider include the down payment, monthly expenses, property taxes, and any home insurance costs. These will all have to be considered before the home buying process begins as they are typically included in your new monthly payment. Since a person’s credit score determines their interest rate, knowing your score ahead of time can help you decide if now is a good time to buy or not. An individual’s debt-to-income ratio must also fall within acceptable limits of the home’s cost. Once you have determined these things, and if you feel that your budget has enough room to afford a new home, then it’s time to look for the right loan.


Different banks and companies will offer different loan origination fees and by shopping around you can oftentimes save yourself a lot of money. Get multiple quotes so you can make sure you get the best rate and terms. Be sure to also check your loan officer’s website for testimonials and information. A good loan officer will offer you many online resources and tools. Before you lock in your rate, be sure to check the daily rate with the rate your loan officer gives you to ensure you are getting the lowest rate possible. Interest rates will determine how much a mortgage will cost each month and come in fixed or adjustable terms. Mortgage lengths can range from 15 years to 30 years. The longer the repayment term, the lower the payments will be. However, the interest accrued will also be higher on a longer loan. Don’t forget to ask for a pre-approval letter so you can include this with any offers you make.


Before you start your home search, it is important to find a buyer’s agent that will be looking out for your best interests so you don’t fall into a money pit or end up paying too much for your new home. A good buyer’s agent will help guide you through the home buying process and can also save you TONS of time and money on the road to your new home. Buyer’s agents are legally bound to help buyers, whereas listing agents—the real estate agent representing the home listing—have a fiduciary duty to the home seller. Your buyer’s agent will also set up home tours, give you insight on any homes you like that you may not be aware of, have knowledge of upcoming listings not yet on the market, help you negotiate the best terms, protect your part in the deal, and give you invaluable advice throughout the process.


Start your home search by using your agent’s website (like this one!) to search the MLS for homes. Agents have a direct line to the MLS, so their websites often update with the newest properties faster than the ‘big name’ sites out there. It also has a My Listing Manager tool that keeps you both in the loop. You can start your search and begin saving your favorite properties to your account and even set up alerts to get new homes and price changes emailed to you. Your agent can then see the properties you have liked and can send potential new properties directly into your listing manager that they think you may be interested in. It’s a WIN-WIN!


There is an art to making an offer on a home. Your buyer’s agent will help you choose the right terms for your offer and will be watching for signs of problems in the home. Listen closely and be sure to ask questions. Be sure to ask for an inspection contingency so if there are major problems, you can back out of the deal without losing your earnest money. A home warranty is also a valuable part of your contract and is a sign of good faith on the seller’s part. You want to make sure all of your bases are covered. That’s where having a buyer’s agent is most valuable: so your rights and interests are protected. With their experience on your side, they will be able to help you negotiate a lower price that sometimes includes concessions or closing costs. Their job is to protect YOU in the contract.


Once your offer has been accepted, you will need a home appraisal. Banks require this so they can make sure the home is worth as much money as they are lending you. You may also need some inspections depending on your loan type. FHA and VA loans have more requirements than conventional loans. This is also the time to have a full home inspection, even if it is not required. A home inspector will go through the home and specifically look for problems and provide you with a full report on everything they find. This will give you the opportunity to avoid major problems and back out of the sale or negotiate repairs without losing your earnest money.


Once the inspections are done, you will more than likely ask the seller to fix some of the issues you found. Keep in mind that they are only required to fix something if the loan terms require it. Be reasonable but firm in your requests. If your seller rejects your request, then it is up to you to decide how to proceed.


The final walk-through is an important last step, even if you are positive you are going to go through with the sale. Walk through and check the agreed upon repairs, make sure everything is in working order and new issues have not popped up. This is your last opportunity to back out. If everything looks good, then it’s time to go to closing!


Before the home is legally transferred to you, the closing process must occur. During this phase, you will sign all of the mortgage documents, pay closing costs, and sign various other legal documents. Your buyer’s agent will be at the closing with you to help you through it all. Once all of the papers are signed and monies are transferred, the keys to your new home are yours! The only thing left to do is move into your humble abode. This may occur immediately after the closing or at the date set in the closing documents.


Depending on how far you’re moving or how much stuff you have, you may require a moving company or a moving truck. Professional movers may seem pricey at first, but when you look at the time and money to get similar results, you may re-consider. Call and set your moving date and start packing! Many places like U-HAUL sell moving boxes that are made to make your move easier. Label everything with what is inside it and what room it goes in. Recruit friends and family if needed.

Bonus Buyer Tips

See What Our Clients are Saying:


They made me feel very comfortable

I’ve already been telling everyone I know how happy I was with the experience I had working with the Paul & Susanna Madden. They made me feel very comfortable in buying my first home…and then selling it for me!


Always available to us

The Maddens were so professional and respectful of our limited time. Always available to us, even with the crazy time zones. We were just amazed at the quality service and responsiveness. We were and continue to be thrilled at home much we love our home and we are grateful PAUL & SUSANNA MADDEN made that possible.

K and D D

professionalism, personality, courtesy

The best thing about working with Paul & Susanna Madden was their professionalism, personality, courtesy for us and the other home owners, and able to support us in any decision no matter what it may have been without being judgmental or forceful…much more, I could go on forever. We would not think of using anyone else except the Maddens to buy or sell a home. Thank you!


Productive, effective and seamless

Working with the Maddens was productive, effective and seamless. They understood our goals, showed us properties that were a fit, and supported us through the offer and closing process, with no problems or hassles. I will us them as my REALTORS every time, and absolutely, I have already referred them and will continue to do so.

D & V A

Made the process simple.

Working with the Maddens was something that was easy to do. We had never purchased a home before so we had a lot of questions. When our first pick was purchased out from under us they helped us work out the deal on another home in the same area, and it worked out better.
The Maddens are a joy to work with and they made the process simple.

Carl C

He made every effort to accommodate my needs

It was a pleasure meeting you during my home search with Charlie; it looks like you have the foundation of a very effective enterprise. A case in point is my three day visit with Charlie. As it turns out, not only did I get to see ample examples of homes, I also had a personal lesson in Customer Service. Charlie not only took into consideration my housing needs, he also shuttled me to the local elementary schools to capture much needed information in regards to my son. On top of that, he cordially returned with me to a particular home three additional times at my request. I know that these requests cut into his schedule, however he made every effort to accommodate my needs. Outstanding. 

I look forward to acquiring a property through your firm. 

Have a great day! 

Don and Kathy F

Honest, conscientious, loyal, hard working, resourceful

Charlie Bodine—so many words can describe him: honest, conscientious, loyal, hard working, resourceful, but most of all friend.  Charlie Bodine has been our realtor for six years.  After moving here from Michigan and not knowing the area, he helped us find the perfect home with all of our wants, needs, wishes and more!!!   Throughout the years, Charlie and his family have become very close friends.  He is a wonderful resource person for everything from real estate, to home repair, to the finest restaurants in town.   After six years in our beautiful home, we decided to follow our dream of living on the beach.  Again, Charlie helped us through the sale of our home and the relocation to our dream.  He is indeed a wonderful realtor—but most of all Friend.
Thanks Charlie from the Bottom of our Hearts

The Smiths

You helped us find not just a great house, but a home

Where do we begin to thank you for all that you did for us? You helped us find not just a great house, but a home. We are so delighted with our new neighborhood and the peaceful, quiet street. Your knowledge and love of this area really made us so comfortable with Westchase.…..Thank you so much.

Palms Q.

Michelle Was Awesome

Michelle was awesome. She listed and sold our house in 2010 and then helped us negotiate an awesome deal on a house in 2011. We were extremely impressed with her entire team. Very professional, knowledgeable and a real pleasure to work with. We highly recommend Michelle and her team.

Zillow User

Michelle Went Above and Beyond

Michelle went above and beyond her work to make sure I make the right choices when purchasing my first home. She genuinely cares about her clients and will point out any problems she sees with the house. She even talked me out on a few offers! Not many realtors will do that. Even when I had problems with my lender, she took the initiative to help me resolve it! I couldn’t ask for a better realtor.

Amanda I.

We Consider Her a Valuable Resource

Sold a Single Family home in 2014 for approximately $300K in Lutz, FL.
In a matter of 10 years, we have used Michelle to purchase 2 homes and sell another. We wouldn’t consider using anyone else. We always felt that she had our best interests at heart. Michelle always gives great advice and has tremendous insight on the market. Many times if my wife and I could not decide on something we would use Michelle’s input as the deciding factor. We consider her a valuable resource and a friend in the industry.

Jan H.

Michelle is Very Experienced

Sold a Single Family home in 2015 for approximately $425K in Lutz, FL.
Michelle is very experienced and guided us through the process of selling our old home and finding a new one. Within a few weeks we had an offer on our old house and were able to enter a contract on a new house. She is extremely dedicated and was a huge advocate for us. We had issues at the eleventh hour with our closing of the new house and Michelle went to bat for us and held firm. In the end we were able to close on our new house without issue. We have already recommended her to others.
Thank you Michelle for being with us every step of the way!

Zillow User

She Made the Process a Lot of Fun

Bought a Single Family home in 2015 for approximately $225K in Tampa, FL.
As a first time homebuyer it was important to me that I found a realtor who had my best interest, someone I could trust and would provide me with all the knowledge I needed to be a homeowner. Michelle, was all of the above and more. She gained my trust the fist time I spoke with her via phone. My gut told me that she was the one I needed to lead me on this journey.
Anytime I had a question or needed help, she was there. Michelle is truly dedicated to her craft. Most realtors just want you to buy “a” house. Michelle wants you to buy “thee”house. Many times we would go to houses and she would say “you can keep looking, but I’m not letting you buy this house.” She knew what properties would be a good investment and which ones were bad and always had facts and reason to back it up. That was important to me.
At one point during the process I came across a lender that didn’t have my best interest. He was trying to take advantage of me due to my lack of knowledge on the loan process. He had prepared documents for the wrong type of loan, but insisted that I go that route because it would be better for me, all because he didn’t want to take the time to do his work over again. Because of Michelle’s vast knowledge she was able to see what this guy was trying to pull over on me. He was shady, lazy and had a temper. She intervened and refused to let this guy take advantage of me. In a pinch she got me in contact with a lender that couldn’t have been any nicer and easy to work with.
Not only did Michelle get us into a house we are excited to call home, she made the process a lot of fun. I can’t thank her enough.
Zillow Testimonial

Brittany C.

Makes the Process of Purchasing a Home so Much Fun

Bought a Condo home in 2014 for approximately $175K in Bayshore Beautiful, Tampa, FL.
I had the pleasure of working with Michelle exactly a year ago when I was in the process of buying my first home. She was absolutely incredible! I would never have been able to follow through without her help and guidance. She has a thorough understanding of the industry and the market and taught me so much throughout the process. She always made me feel like a priority and I don’t know how she managed to do that while also juggling several other clients. Michelle is professsional but also makes the process of purchasing a home so much fun.

Zack L

Always reachable whenever

Thank you for helping us find our first home. We really appreciate all of your hard work. We could not have been happier with the service that you provided for us. You made yourself available for us and you were always reachable whenever we had a question.