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 our team 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 we 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 agents like us to take much of the stress off your shoulders? Not only will we help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and ultimately handle the offer process, but we also have knowledge of the market that you don’t possess. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where our expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let us show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

Our 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!). We 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. We 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. We 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. 

Testimonials

Jack B

Jack B

Denise is exceptional in every way. She not only found the perfect waterfront lot for us, but also recommend a very good builder. Denise worked with us all the way - right up to closing on our new build. Her knowledge of Sou...
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Marc

Marc

Superb service and fast turnaround with proceeds we expected from our sale. Highly recommended. Denise Heath is one of the best RE agents I have dealt with in a long time. Give her a try. You won't be disappointed.
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Marylyn

Marylyn

Denise is the best! Her work ethic brought us over the finish line much earlier then anticipated and with the proceeds from our sale we anticipated! Highly recommended!!!
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Tonya

Tonya

From the moment I read Denise's profile, I knew she was the one to assist my out-of-state client in selling her properties. Denise's follow-up is impeccable and she stays on the task, what seems 24/7, to provide excellent clie...
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Lauren

Lauren

Denise is amazing! We contacted her after finding her on a google search when we wanted to buy a vacation home in the Port Charlotte/Englewood area. We were on a short trip and she was great at making the most of the time we ...
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Sandra

Sandra

Denise was AMAZING!! Got back to me on a timely manner, explained everything to me and just overall thorough. I am so glad my sister in law referred her to me.
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Gary G

Gary G

Denise is an A++ Realtor! Knowledge. Experience. Communication skills. Passion for success. Unmatched Ethics. Driven to unrivaled levels. Sincere. Finalizer. None better! A true Pro’s Pro! 10/10…all facets!
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David

David

I have been absolutely delighted with your service! - I believe you guided us to the right listing prices. Not too high, not too low. - You were right on the spot for getting the prospective buyers interested in the proper...
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Davis Family

Davis Family

We are very thankful to have been able to work with Denise, as we were out-of-state home buyers for our new construction home build. Denise was extremely dedicated and transparent every step of the way for our new home build. S...
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Donald

Donald

Denise helped us with our search for investment properties in Port Charlotte, Florida. She worked diligently, gave us the guidance we needed without any pressure, was very responsive throughout the process, and was an absolute ...
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Lucy

Lucy

I have personally used Denise Heath for multiple real estate transactions in the Cape Haze and Rotonda areas. She tackles each transaction as if it were her own. She has gone above and beyond to help me make informed decisions ...
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Tatyana

Tatyana

Very happy we went with Denise to list a few of our vacant lots in South Gulf Cove. She was able to get both of them sold fairly, quickly, and painlessly in the market which was not the best at that time. Denise knows the area ...
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April

April

Denise is very knowledgeable and does a great job helping her clients every step of the way! If you are looking to buy or sell a home and need an expert Realtor in Port Charlotte FL or the surrounding area, I would highly recom...
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Bernice

Bernice

Denise was awesome! She was very helpful and always returned our calls promptly. Had great insight. Being from out of the state of Florida, she made the process of buying our new construction home smooth and easy. Thank you, De...
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Suhail

Suhail

Denise is an amazing Realtor. She is the best! Extremely helpful, professional, responsible, and also a great person. I am glad I found her. She provided amazing services to help me sell the land I once owned Thank you, Denise!
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Ryan

Ryan

Denise was amazing throughout this whole process. We were first-time home buyers in Venice Florida and had many questions. She always took the time to explain things and was super helpful. 10/10 would recommend it!
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Laura

Laura

Denise helped me find my dream home, she was there to answer all my concerns and walk me through the process, highly recommended her and her team to help you find your dream home!
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J & L

J & L

I would use both Jay and Denise again. I have both listed and sold properties with them and feel they understood my needs. Highly recommend!
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Eileen

Eileen

Denise not only got our North Port house sold, but she was also very supportive and accommodating to our specific needs. She was great!
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Joe

Joe

Quick to respond, very personable, and great to work with!
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Whether you are considering a move to Florida, or relocating to another state, we always consider it a privilege to serve your real estate needs and welcome you to the Live Love Paradise® family.

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