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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Paulina makes the process so fun and easy. She cares and takes so much time on helping you find a home. She has so much knowledge in this department and I recommend her to everyone!

— Lucy P.


Paulina is amazing, made the process so easy, and was so professional and informative! She is the only REALTOR you should hire in Las Vegas when buying or selling your home, period!

— John R.


I have known Paulina for years! She helped us every time we need her advice and guide us when we bought our property, she is always so friendly and patient! And when in doubt she always advises us in our best interest.

— Bianka R.


Paulina is a friendly, knowledgeable professional that is always present throughout the real estate transaction. She very clearly knows how to navigate the process from every angle. Always a pleasure to work with, highly recommend Paulina.

— Stephen K.


I’ve known Paulina for over 10 years and as long as I’ve known her, her passion and professionalism are what sets her apart. She cares deeply for all of her clients and always has their best interests at hand. You are in very good hands working with Paulina as your REALTOR.

— Claudia T.


The house I had been eyeing for 6 years is now mine bc of the quick, savvy, and experienced direction we received from Paulina. We are forever thankful for her expertise that guided us into our dream home when the market was not in our favor. We could not recommend her enough!

— Christina L.


Paulina is extremely passionate about what she does! She truly cares about her clients and their best interests. She goes above and beyond to make sure you understand the process of buying a home from start to finish. An all-around pleasure to work with when it comes to one of the biggest decisions and investments for your future. Thank you!

— Melessa K.


Paulina went above and beyond with the sale of our client's home in Vegas. Sold it in record time for the full value, while correlating it with all our timelines here in California. Couldn’t have asked for a better partner in Las Vegas. She was a breath of fresh air! She’s my go-to for future out-of-state transactions; plus will provide her contact information to fellow agents. Thank u, Paulina!

— Priscilla G.


Paulina helped my family and me find our perfect house. She made the whole process so easy. She was so helpful from our initial meeting to the closing of our home. She explained everything to us and ensured we were well aware of every step. Paulina has the client's best interest. We have referred several friends and family to her and they have also been satisfied and told me how great their experience wa...

— Oscar P.


For over 5 years Paulina Mckinney has assisted with rentals and handled sales for me in a very competent and professional manner. Many top agents in Las Vegas seek to represent properties on my behalf, to no avail. Paulina does a splendid job, is on top of every detail, and is timely in every matter. While nobody is perfect, Paulina is as close to real estate perfection as one can be. I would and do reco...

— Bob C.

Work With Paulina

With the latest marketing campaigns that incorporate direct mail, social media, professional photography, a matterport 3d virtual tour, email, and face-to-face contact I ensure that your home is seen not only locally but out of state too. Contact me today to discuss all your real estate needs!