The Buyers Experience

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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. 

My Testimonials

See why my clients love working with me.

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Jay C.

We interviewed several potential real estate candidates for the sale of our home and decided on Andy for the following reasons: 1) The home appraisal process to establish the value of our real estate was detailed, leading to th...
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Buyer

Angela Mathias is an extremely dedicated and hard-working Realtor® who will do anything in her power to assist in both buying and selling your home. She is very knowledgeable in all areas of real estate; she also has multiple r...
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Buyer

Andy is one of the most effective professional Realtors® we have ever worked with. That compares to numerous real estate transactions over the last 45 years. He is an excellent communicator and employs superb judgment that exhi...
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Denise & Rick G.

We recently sold our condo property with the assistance and guidance of Libby Salamone and her team. Libby is a seasoned professional with in-depth knowledge of the Tierra Verde/St Pete real estate market. She utilized high-cal...
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B

Buyer

Andy is a genuinely nice person. He is personable, professional, and interested in the people he meets in his profession. He builds relationships. He was readily available in making appointments to view houses. He was committed...
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Adam R.

I interviewed several Realtors® when I decided to sell my home, and selected Andy because he was the most knowledgeable, professional, and personable. I never questioned the decision, and he was great throughout the entire proc...
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Seller

Angela is a stellar Real Estate Agent. She doesn't just hear she listens to her clients. By being a great listener Angela is able to maximize all the resources available to achieve the best outcome for her clients. She responds...
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James H.

Not often are my expectations exceeded however, I can honestly say Andy zoomed way past my expectations. In the first week I lost count of the number of showings and Andy had a contract with the eventual buyer, at a price I tho...
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Hany D.

Andrew is a gentleman. Quick to respond, honest, gives good advice when you need it, very knowledgable, especially in the legal aspects of real estate, he’s not pushy, he’s patient, passionate, a hard worker, and he’s become a ...
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Kathy K.

Libby is the best agent I've had the pleasure to work with. She is very knowledgeable and intuitive. She knows how to read people very well and always seemed to anticipate our needs. Her attention to detail and regular communic...
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Adam S.

I can't say enough good things about Angela. She guided me through the process from start to finish, was always patient and able to answer my questions, and ultimately went to bat for me to make the deal happen. I don't think w...
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Jill T.

Andy and his team were fantastic! We sold our home and purchase a new home with Andy and he took care of everything! He went above and beyond during the whole process. I can not say enough about the service. I highly recommend ...
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Marlene S.

Andy is an excellent individual to work with! Highly impressive in his ability to listen to your needs and deliver satisfaction. One of the most honest individuals that I have worked with. Eager to provide you with the best cus...
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Seller

Libby is a seasoned professional. She has been selling real estate in the St Pete area for many years. She knows the market. No high pressure, will listen and give proper advise. She has your interest at heart. You will not be ...
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Buyer

Andy is the best. We had to move out of state for a job opportunity, and Andy handled everything. Within a few short weeks, we accepted an offer and closed quickly. With all the stress associated with a long-distance move and s...
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Joanne R.

I enjoyed working with Andrew He was professional and helpful throughout the process and made it fun to house hunt I give him 5 stars and would highly recommend him as a Realtor®. He made the whole experience from looking to se...
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Buyer

Everything about our experience with Angela was exceptional. Besides having great knowledge of the local market, she was personable. She responded to our questions and concerns quickly. It was a pleasure working with her.
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Buyer

Angela is one of the most professional, knowledgeable, and hard-working Realtors® in the field. She worked with our family in both selling and buying and was there from the start to the finish! Highly recommend Angela.
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Buyer

Andy found us the perfect property and advised us throughout the negotiations till the closing. He is professional and personable. He made the whole process a pleasure.
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Buyer

Andy went out of his way to help us. He definitely went above and beyond expectations for us. He was an excellent negotiator and just an overall good person.
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