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. 

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Peter and Maria truly are the best team in the business. They went above and beyond to make our recent sale and purchase effortless for us. They continued to make sure that we were comfortable throughout the whole process, whil...
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Maria was very helpful several years ago in helping us to find an affordable condo unit still under construction at the time. She went out of her way to accommodate our needs. Great job.
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Maria Brooks and Peter Panagiotakopoulos of Brooks-Panagio Real Estate are a realtor couple who are extremely trustworthy and reliable, super efficient and competent, friendly and caring, very helpful and provide professional g...
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Maria and Peter found our dream home. Their advice and support through closing was invaluable. They was polite, available, friendly, and knowledgable. We could not have done it without them! Thank you!!!
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Maria and Peter are stellar realtors! They are trustworthy, honest, reliable and always do the best possible job for their clients. Their high level of experience shines through in all their recommendations and advice. I have b...
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Maria and Peter are excellent realtors. They managed to move our home when others had failed. They are reliable, honest and trustworthy. Having a strong knowledge of the real estate market and a well connected network helped in...
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Jennifer N

Brooks/Panagio is 100% the reason we were able to purchase our dream house in downtown Toronto in 2021. Starting our search we were daunted by our lack of understanding of the current real estate market, but Maria and Peter mad...
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Benoit M

Maria and Peter helped us to buy a condo and rent it. They were patient, kind, and fun to work with. We spent a lot of time with them and found the perfect condo (for us). Based on their deep knowledge and experience of the Tor...
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Emily M

I have had the pleasure of working with Maria and Peter closely over the last three years. In the time I’ve worked for them Maria and Peter have never showed me anything but kindness, consideration, and respect. When it was tim...
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Madeline B.

Maria is the definition of a real estate rock star. I have had the pleasure of doing business with her for over eight years and buying/selling three different condos. Each time Maria's knowledge of the market, negotiation skill...
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Chris S.

Selling our house and then ultimately purchasing a new home was an extremely emotional experience. Maria and Peter helped us not just with the real estate aspects, but with the emotional aspects of the transaction. Considering ...
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Josh L.

I worked closely with Maria when my partner and I were interested in renting a condominium in downtown Toronto. She is an incredible Realtor®: knowledgeable, attentive, responsive, professional, of the highest integrity, and ki...
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Kris F.

Maria worked with me to find the perfect fit condo for me. I required a large open space, a great managed building, and in only a few select areas of Toronto. She worked with me for several months and in the end found the deal ...
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Jean L.

Maria has taken the time to look for and show me various possibilities. She is most accomodating, professional and personable to work with. She has a good knowledge of the market and the detailed information she readily shared,...
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Michael H.

My experience with Maira and Peter was absolutely excellent. The culmination of prompt professionalism and sheer hustle returned great results. Moreover, Maria is able to exude a no-nonsense business sense with a subtle flare o...
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Mark B.

Maria has a fantastic understanding of Toronto's real estate market and is a great source of advice for those looking to buy or sell the property. She has excellent attention to detail and is great to work with when finding a p...
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Fisher K.

They walked me through the whole process and we found a hidden gem and negotiated a great price. Very happy with the whole transaction and I would recommend that anyone looking into buying real estate should spend time with Mar...
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We have experience in many different areas of real estate and we would be happy to assist you with whatever you need. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or invest, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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