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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. Finding the perfect home can be a daunting task, this is where my expertise and wealth of knowledge come into play. Let me show you around some homes that meet your dream home criteria so you can find the one that's right for you.

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.


Justyn LeFebvre is the best in the business. Justyn mobilized a team that did painting, repairs, pictures, advertising, staging, and listing. His operation was so smooth, that by the time we listed, we had offers waiting. His pricing was perfect to create interest but also right in the sweet spot to bid up. Our home in Travis Heights was sold in less than a week and I still can't believe the final sales ...

— Don H.


Justyn LeFebvre was my REALTOR and he went above and beyond in every way imaginable. He helped me sell my condo and buy another, evaluate offers for both sale and purchase, and helped us look and find just the right place. He really took the time to know what was important to us and find just the right place. I dreaded the entire thing because Austin real estate is just dumb right now, but Justyn made it...

— Christopher H.


Justyn is wonderful to work with! I began working with Justyn remotely before relocating to Austin, immediately he was able to work with my hectic schedule. After relocating to Austin from across the country, he was the first person to greet me upon my arrival. Justyn has an intimate knowledge of the city of Austin, as well as, the surrounding areas which make him an extremely valuable resource when find...

— Kevin B.


Working with Justyn has been an absolute pleasure, and we couldn't be more satisfied with the outstanding level of service he has provided us over the years. We have purchased not one, not two, but three properties with Justyn, and every time he has gone above and beyond to help us find the perfect home/property. He is truly an expert in his field and has made our transition from San Francisco, CA to Au...

— Kevin M.


Justyn Lefebvre is amazing! We relocated to the Austin area from out of state and from the very beginning Justyn went over and above to make sure we found the perfect house for us. We would email him with lists of housing development areas and home plans we were interested in and he would go out and meet with the builders and walk through the models so that he could give us more details. Justyn helped us...

— Colleen N.


Justyn Lefebvre is a terrific REALTOR. I was a first-time homebuyer, new to everything, and Justyn was always there to guide me through everything. I had a lot of trouble deciding on which house to buy, and ended up visiting many, with Justyn–some we visited three or four times. Justyn was right there with me, genially indulging my lack of decisiveness. After many such visits, Justyn had a better sense o...

— Kevin H.


Being a first-time home buyer, the Austin market was very intimidating for me. Working with another agent from another firm a couple of years back and after multiple bidding wars with no success, I took my frustrations and decided to take a break from house hunting. A couple of years pass and I decided to give it another go with a new agent. A couple of internet searches later I came across Strüb Residen...

— Ben S.


A first-time home buyer, new to the Austin area, and only in Austin part-time during my house hunt: I worked with Justyn and without him, who knows where I would be living right now? Alas, we closed on a perfect home in early March, making it through aggressive competition, and I could not be happier and more optimistic about my future in Austin. It is clear now, especially for a 1st-time buyer, that you...

— Kevin P.


Justyn’s professionalism and knowledge of Austin housing trends helped us renovate and sell our home in an extremely challenging market. His natural sociability and compassionate demeanor helped us broker a great deal with great people! We are not wealthy, and our house was nothing fancy, but Justyn went far above and beyond to help us navigate the process successfully. We recommend him without hesitatio...

— Bug D.


Justyn was the best!! He found us our dream home. He made the process easy and painless, answered all of our questions, and gave us advice and assistance throughout every step of the process. Would highly recommend Justyn for your real estate needs.

— Mark M.


Justyn has been an amazing realtor advisor throughout our process of buying a home in the Austin area. Being new to the state, he drove us around to visit different communities to get an understanding of what we liked. We wanted to build a home and he was there at every walkthrough appt with the home builders and at the home interior/ exterior finish selections at the design center. I was so comfortable ...

— Sandy B


Justyn is an exceptional agent. He is extremely knowledgable and detail oriented. Justyn first helped us map out and narrow down an area over the course of a day as we are not very familiar with Austin. He then ensured we were continually updated on new listings in that area, based on our criteria. Justyn visited each listing with us and his responsiveness, quick turnaround and great negotiation skills h...

— Sona V


I’ve been working with Justyn for the last 4 years and he’s a fantastic realtor. He makes the home buying process smooth and is always on top of everything. Always makes sure to answer all of your questions and feels that you two are truly a team, which adds on a personal touch. I definitely recommend Justyn!

— Omar G


Finding an agent who not only understands the market but also genuinely cares about your journey is hard to come by! Justyn was our trusted buyers agent and now also our trusted sellers agent. Justyn isn't your average agent, he guides and supports his clients throughout every step of the process. His wealth of knowledge and experience ensured that our home was positioned optimally in the market, attract...

— Mike & Glenn


Justyn is a top-notch real estate agent, and we highly recommend him. Working with him was a fantastic experience, his knowledge of the market was impressive, and he was always able to provide valuable insights and advice. He paid close attention to every detail, ensuring that nothing was overlooked. What we appreciated most was his patience in dealing with all our questions and concerns. He took the tim...

— Gio & Werner

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