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. 

Our Testimonials

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Emin

Alan helped us purchase our first home. As first-time homeowners, we didn't have any experience with the home buying process. He was a great expert who made the entire process seamless. Although we had a couple of small hiccups...
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Nancy M

As a first time homebuyer, Alan was extremely helpful and available to answer any of our questions as they came up. Alan is knowledgeable about the Boston market and put emphasis on properties that were good values. He is confi...
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Ryan A

Alan was extremely helpful every step of the way. He did a great job of going to bat for us to get everything we wanted. Would 100% recommend going through Alan if you are looking for property.
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Jess S

As a first time homebuyer, I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am to have had Alan with me every step of the way. He truly cares about his clients and making sure they are happy. He listened to what my needs were and sele...
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Kristen C

Alan was more than helpful in finding my new condo in Dorchester and helped find me tenants for my prior apartment! He was extremely honest, upfront, and was able to find me a great condo that fit my needs and was within the pr...
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Ryan T

Alan was incredibly helpful throughout the process, from figuring out what my necessities are versus the nice to haves, to identifying neighborhoods to look in, all the way through close. As a first-time homebuyer, this process...
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Mary R.

Star residential, and particularly Brett Star, is fantastic! My boyfriend and I contacted Brett in 2011 looking for what seemed impossible at the time a nice studio or one bed in a convenient location in or around Boston. After...
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Bryan O.

Erik is a great! He makes the process of finding an apartment very easy. He helps walk you through each step of the process and takes time to call and ask questions. He was very helpful in my search for an apartment and did an ...
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Mehreen I.

Brett helped me in renting an amazing studio in Back Bay. I initially found the apartment listing on Craigslist and shortly thereafter was able to set up an appointment to see the studio. Brett was very flexible with scheduling...
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Lindsay W.

Brett is great. We worked with him to rent our beautiful new apartment in the south end. He has a different vibe than the other Realtors® we met with to see other places. He's super casual or chills millennial shows up on a bik...
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Furkan C.

I just signed off on a rental with Erik in Back Bay Boston and had a brilliant experience throughout the whole process. He was very considerate and flexible in finding a time to show the apartment. When we were at the apartment...
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Sherill G.

Brett assisted me in renting an apartment in the South End I was in the process of moving up to Boston from New York and he was so helpful! I had a few packages that were arriving before I actually moved in and he even dropped ...
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KW R.

From start to finish, Brett was professional, prompt, responsive, and honest. Compared to 5 other Realtors® who gave us the run-around, We found an awesome 1 bedroom in the south end for a very reasonable price. Brett is the on...
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Victor D.

Brett was transparent and responsive throughout our entire apartment hunt. He had helpful answers to all our questions and even offered his own tips to make sure we would be as happy as possible in our new place. He truly went ...
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Buyer | Seller

Huge fan of Brett Star and his team. I rent my apartments through them because they are honest, thorough, and responsive. They always match me up with great people. As an owner of a small number of units, in a building where I ...
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Ali B.

I used Star Residential in Oct 2015. Brett Star helped me to rent a beautiful apt in the South end. It was absolutely perfect for me and the entire process was seamless! Very nice to work with a boutique firm with amazing exclu...
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David M.

As a homeowner in Boston, I've had great success with Brett Star and his team. I find them highly reliable and responsive. Just what I was looking for!
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Kurt R.

Brett Star is an excellent and trustworthy Realtor®. I wouldn't do business with anyone else in Boston.
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