8 Steps to Buying Your First Home

8 Steps to Buying Your First Home

Let’s be real, buying a home for the first time can be scary! A house is the most expensive thing many of us will ever purchase. But it doesn’t have to be scary, just break it up and tackle each step one at time.

Step 1: You might have guessed… BUDGET

I admit, not the most fun step but EXTREMELY important! You need to know what you can handle. Time for shameless honesty, don’t leave anything out. Yes, a lender is going to approve you for a certain amount but that might assume that you aren’t a foodie that wants to try every restaurant in town at least once… at least. Eat out once a week, cut where you can and create a realistic budget. Now stick to it and remember that house when you feel weak.

Before you finalize that budget, make sure you don’t forget these home buying costs

  • Down Payment- The more the better, but you knew that. Often around 20% of the home’s sale price. Luckily there are options with lower down payments. If you meet the requirements, you could put down less than 5%
  • Closing Costs- Anywhere from 2-5%,

Your lender will help you better estimate both of these in Step 2.

Step 2: Pre-Approval

Pre-approval is not mandatory but there are two reasons why you should not skip this step.

The Right Price Range- Don’t waste your time looking in the wrong price range. Sure it’s fun to daydream about living in a house that is 20 times what you can afford, but it’s not helpful when you are serious about finding a home now.

Serious Offer- In this market houses are going fast and a pre-approval letter tells the seller you are serious and capable of purchasing the property.

Not going to lie, as a first-time home buyer this step made butterflies flutter. Not sure why as this step was fairly painless. The biggest thing is getting your proof of income together. There are many lenders out there and multiple options for a mortgage. Explore and understand your options. Ask questions.

Step 3: Find an Agent

A licensed real estate professional will have access to more information than is available to the public. Let that access work for you and find an agent who you enjoy working with. You might find your dream home right away, but likely you won’t, and you’ll probably be spending some time with this person. You want someone who listens to your feedback and works to find the right house. The seller pays the real estate commissions in a home sale. This means working with a good agent won’t cost you a penny.

Step 4: Let the Search Begin!

Looking online is a great way to narrow down your search. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about yourself during the home search. Maybe you care more about the master bathroom than you thought or you hate to cook and don’t want a big kitchen. And that is OK. Go look at homes and make a list of three things: must-haves, would-like-to-haves, and deal-breakers. Share this with your agent. Your agent needs this information to find you the right home. Don’t be surprised if this list changes after you start viewing homes.

Every home buying experience is different. Parts of it will be fun and some will be frustrating. Don’t get discouraged, the right home is out there. It’s called a search for a reason. Keep looking; you’ll know the one when you see it!

Tip: Try broadening your search to neighboring cities. I am not surprised you want to find a home in Coeur d’Alene; it’s gorgeous! But there is beauty all around this area- look at homes in Post Falls, Hayden and Rathdrum.

Step 5: Make an Offer

Now that you found the home, it’s time to make an offer. Your agent will help you determine how much to offer and which contingencies to include. Your agent will put together a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help you determine the offer price. A CMA will show the list and final sale prices for similar homes that recently sold in that area typically of comparative size.

Once you make your offer, the seller will then review it. The seller will then choose to accept, decline, or submit a counteroffer.

  • Accepted Offer- Great! Move on to the next step.
  • Rejected Offer- Hurts, but make sure you work with your real estate agent to figure out why so you can learn and adjust if needed.
  • Counter Offer- Not uncommon at all! Don’t fret; your agent is there to help you negotiate. Try not to focus only on your final offer price. You can consider increasing your earnest money, waiving contingencies or proposing an earlier closing date.


Step 6: Time to Close

Time; it usually takes 30-45 days to close. At first this seems like FORVER since you just found your home… it’s not. And since time is subjective let me fill you in on what will help make the time pass-

  • Earnest Money
  • Title
  • Home Inspection- This may not be required but recommended as it is important to know what you are buying.
  • Finalize Loan
  • Appraisal
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Lots of paperwork
  • Final Walk Through
  • Down Payment- You’ll want to get a cashier’s check for this
  • Close Escrow
  • Sign, Sign, Sign- you may not even recognize your signature after this… really. Don’t worry; you will still have the ability to sign your lovely signature.

Your real estate agent should be there to guide you along the way.

Step 7: KEYS!

Get your keys! Keys to your new home! Celebrate, jump up and down and take a picture even though you won’t be forgetting this moment anytime soon.

I leave this step short and sweet. Oh so sweet! But you still have one more step…

Step 8: Move

So this was going to be 8 easy steps, but when I got to this step it was very clear that a quick removal of ‘easy’ was necessary. There is no way around it, moving sucks! Packing. Cleaning. Packing. Yes, there is a lot of it, but you just bought your home so it is all worth it!

Tip: Start packing things that you don't need as early as possible. Moving always goes so much smoother in your head. Literally EVERY time.

Who knows… maybe you rocked it on Step 1 and budgeted in a moving company!

And like that, you just bought your first home!



I love working with first time home buyers; there is just something magical about it. If you are thinking about purchasing a home in the Coeur d’Alene area, call me (208)502-0906! I’ll be here to walk you through the steps.

Monica Neglio
Associated Brokers





#1 By Derek Dewitt at 6/20/2018 6:01 AM

My wife and I want to buy a home this year, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about choosing a real estate agent that you get along with. I'll be sure to do this since we'll likely be working together for a long time.

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