First Time Home Buyer

Making your FIRST home purchase is an exciting experience, but can be a bit intimidating! Ashley is available to help first time buyer’s through the process by providing plenty of information about the process and creating a comfortable transaction.

See below for First Time Home Buyers’ Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How Do I Determine if I can Afford a Home?

The first step in buying a home is determining what type of home you can afford. The best way to do this is consult a local mortgage loan officer that will discuss with you the amount of cash (down payment and closing costs) that you have available to put into a home, along with your credit score, current interest rates and estimated payment. Along with these items, it is also important to consider the cost of normal maintenance on a home, as well as moving expenses or any desired remodeling expenses. See for more information. And be sure to view Ashley’s recommendations for local lenders in the Auburn and Opelika area.

2. Where Do I Begin?

After determining what type of home you can afford, it is smart to start looking online at homes in this price point. Then, be sure to contact a local REALTOR® in the area in which you plan to make a purchase. Ashley is experienced in the Auburn/Opelika, AL area. A REALTOR® can help enhance your search, and can show you any property in their working area. Identify several properties that best meet your needs, but beware of not viewing too many properties in one day, because this can be overwhelming and confusing. It’s always good to drive by a property and spend time exploring the neighborhood before deciding to view the interior of the property.

3. How do I Choose a REALTOR(R)?

A REALTOR® that is experienced and knowledgeable about the market in which you are buying is crucial. Your REALTOR® will not only help you view properties in the community, but they will also be critical in determining an offer price, negotiating a contract, and getting you to the closing table. Not all REALTORS® are created equal. Be sure to work with a REALTOR® that is active in the marketplace. It’s always best to work with a buyer’s agent to view all properties that interest you, rather than calling each agent that has a home listed. A buyer’s agent will look out for your best interest from beginning to end.

4. What is Pre-qualification and Where do I get this?

Most REALTORS® will ask if you have been pre-qualified prior to showing you property, and most sellers will want to see a pre-qualification letter before accepting an offer on their property. Pre-qualification is when a lender takes a look at your financial status and your credit and makes a decision as to whether or not you have the financial ability to purchase a property, and at what price. A lender normally issues a pre-qualification letter that is subject to underwriting approval, which is the process in which the lender’s company or a third party, review your financial documents to ensure that they can issue the loan. Ashley always recommends working with a local lender in the Auburn/Opelika area to receive pre-qualification. See her list of preferred lenders.

5. What is the Process for the Home Search?

After telling your REALTOR® what your “wish list” and price point is for a home, they can begin to send you listings that meet your needs. Most listings include photos and possibly videos of the property for you to view. Make a list of what hopes interest you most, then your agent will make appointments to show you the properties. It is perfectly reasonable to look at several properties, but be sure to look at properties that are in your price range, so you don’t get your eyes set on a property that is unattainable. Also, don’t make the search harder than it should be. If you find a property that meets your needs early in your search, don’t pass it by, because there’s no promise it will be there at a later date. When you know it’s the one, you know!

6. How do I Make an Offer?

Your REALTOR® should guide you in obtaining and reviewing comparable sold properties that will help you in making an educated offer price. The REALTOR® will also have the appropriate documentation to fill out and and explain to you in order to make an offer on a property.

7. What happens after Making an Offer?

After making an offer, you can work with your agent to negotiate to agreeable terms with the seller. From that point, you and your agent can work through any contingencies or due diligence period that you have negotiated. You should make sure that you hire a licensed professional to inspect the property in your due diligence period.

8. When does My Lender Need to Know About the Contract?

As soon as you have a fully executed real estate contract, you or your agent can send it, along with the property information to your lender. Your lender should advise you as to when you should lock your interest rate, and your lender will order the appraisal on the property. There may be additional documents your lender requests from you through the financing period. Your lender and agent can work with you to determine a closing attorney for the transaction.

9. What Expenses are Required of the Buyer?

In the Auburn/Opelika area, the buyer is normally responsible for their home inspection (paid at the time of service), their lender fees (unless negotiated otherwise), their home owners insurance, any prorated taxes, and any prorated HOA fees. There may be other expenses required of the buyer depending on each specific transaction, so consult your agent for this information.

10. What is Required of the Seller?

In the Auburn/Opelika area, the seller is normally responsible for providing clear title to the property, for providing a clear termite letter, and paying for any fees that the attorney charges for transferring title to the new owner’s name. These fees are subject to change, and there could be other fees depending on each specific transaction, so always consult the closing attorney or agent for more information.

11. What Should I Do to Prepare for Closing?

Pack your belongings and get ready to move! Your REALTOR® should walk you through the steps to closing and the process is normally smooth! Prior to closing, you and your REALTOR® can conduct a final walk through to ensure the property is in the same condition as when you saw the home previously. At closing, the attorney normally asks for a copy of your driver’s license, and most attorneys prefer that your funds be given to them in a certified check from the bank. Prior to closing, your REALTOR® and/or your lender should send you a HUD1/Settlement statement that will show all of the figures that are connected with your home purchase. This document will also show the amount of funds you need to bring to closing. Prior to closing, make arrangements with the various utility companies to switch the utilities into your name on the day of closing, so your move will be a seamless transition with water and power! At closing, you should receive the keys to your new home! Congratulations!


The home buying process can vary in several ways. The First Time Buyer information provided by Ashley is a general understanding of a home purchase process in Auburn or Opelika, AL and it is subject to change at any time. For more accurate information, please contact your REALTOR® , lender, or real estate attorney. For more general information, visit and read a variety of articles about purchasing a home!