First-Time Homebuyer Journey

Yay, you’ve decided it’s time to buy your first home. You’ve saved for a down payment, home inspection and appraisal fees, and you know your credit score.

Buying a new home is an exhilarating time for you, and I’m sure you’re feeling several emotions and have many questions. Let’s get down to business and talk about what you can do to prepare yourself for becoming a first-time homeowner.

The most important thing you can do during your home buying process is to select a REALTOR®. REALTORS® are experienced guides and negotiators and know what you need to secure a home that is right for you. Take the time to interview several REALTORS®, as this relationship will be critical to a great experience. In most situations, your agent will be paid in a cooperative agreement with the listing agent or home seller, and this will rarely be a direct expense for you.

An excellent REALTOR® will have access to exceptional lenders, home inspectors, closing attorneys and tradespeople, and will know what homes are coming soon. All of these will be important on your journey.

To get the best loan for your home purchase, your REALTOR® will recommend a few lenders — each may offer a variety of options, including down payment assistance or no mortgage insurance. Once you select a lender, you’ll have a preapproval letter that will allow you to offer on a home. In our market, having that letter is key to being able to act quickly on a home you’d like to make yours.

Once you’ve obtained a preapproval letter and know your budget and terms, your REALTOR® will help you narrow down your search and provide access to the homes you select for consideration. It’s essential to visit a home that interests you at various times (nights and weekends, too!) to make sure the neighborhood is a good fit. You can also test your commute and the distance to services, parks, schools or other community amenities.

When you’ve found a home, you’ll work with your REALTOR® to make an offer. They will help you through this process by identifying some common opt-out contingencies and items that you’ll want to be included. Your next steps will be following the terms of the contract. These steps include: delivering earnest/trust money, scheduling your home inspection and appraisal and conducting a final walk-through to ensure everything is working correctly. Congratulations, you’ve conquered the journey that is buying your first home.


Sher Powers is president of Greater Nashville REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribes to its strict code of ethics. Contact her at 615-430-6861 or