Buyer's Guide

From developing your budget to signing the closing documents, learn more about the home buying process.

Preparing to buy a home in St. Louis?

Buying a home can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life.  This can be true whether you've purchased several homes of you're preparing to buy for the first time.  With a great  plan and the help of Tracy Hess, your RE/MAX Integrity professional, you will make an informed decision about your next home. When you're trying to find the perfect home, get everything on your wishlist and sticking to your budget, our agents understand how to help you navigate the home buying process.

Our guide breaks down the steps of buying a home so you can start the process feeling confident and prepared.  From developing your budget to signing your name on the dotted line, you'll find helpful tips right here.  Plus, we are here to help every step of the way.  Please feel free to contact our staff with any questions you have about getting your home search started.

Your Home Buying Guide

Budgeting & Saving

The first step is to do your own math and find out what type of home you can afford to buy. Start by examining expenses and income to find our what a comfortable mortgage payment would be, then cut expenses that help you reach your goal. There's a down payment to make, but you also need to be aware of closing costs, moving costs and other expenses that may arise along the way.

Interview Real Estate Agents

The next step in the process is to find an agent that's going to walk you through the process, educate you and advocate for your best interest. To do this, it's smart to interview multiple agents before signing to work exclusively with anyone. Talk with them about your goals and about how they can best help you achieve them.

Get Pre-Approved

Once you've spoken with an agent, it's time to get pre-approved if you haven't been already. This just means that a lender will look at your credit score, income, debt and other factors and come up with an amount that you're pre-approved to spend on a home. This isn't the final approval, but it shows sellers that you're serious and able to purchase.

Start Your Home Search

Once you're pre-approved, you can start your home search knowing that you can pounce when the right home comes along. Your agent will help you set up a digital home search that will show you properties in your criteria, as well as alert you to new properties right as they hit the market!

Offer & Negotiate

Once you find the home you want, your agent will help you put together a competitive offer based on your pre-approved loan terms. The seller can then reject, accept or counter your offer. You may need to do multiple counteroffers before an agreement is reached.

Inspections & Negotiate

After you have an accepted contract, you'll want to order inspections to verify the condition of the property and alert you to any potential problems. The inspections contingency in the sales contract will start another round of negotiations where the buyer can request the seller make repairs to the home. The seller is not required to make these repairs.

Title & Underwriting

After a home is under contract, you'll go through the title and underwriting phase. You'll work with a title company to conduct a title search and ensure that your title will be free of liens, encumbrances, etc. Underwriting is the process the lender goes through to provide final approval for your loan. You may need to verify bank info, keep cash reserves and more to satisfy the terms of the loan.

Final Walk-Through

Final walk-through can take place up to 4 days prior to the closing date. At final walk-through, you'll give the home one last look and verify that proper repairs and corrections have been made before signing on the dotted line.

Closing & Possession

At closing, you'll sign a lot of documents and it's important to listen carefully as they're explained to you. Possession takes place once the keys are turned over to the new owners AFTER the funding as arrived in the seller's accounts.

The Tools to Help You Find Your Home

Once you've defined your home search goals, discussed them with Tracy, and have spoken with a mortgate processional to see what your buying power is - you're ready to find your dream home!  In addtion to our knowledge of the local market, we offer online tools that can help make your initial search as easy as possible.


Use Interactive Search Tools

We know that location plays an important role in the home buying process. Use the pap search available on our website to view homes located in or near the area you love. Create an account and start saving searches to ensure you're always alerted when something with your criteria is listed.


Get to Know the Neighborhood

Feel confident and informed about your neighborhood choice! On any listing page, you can learn more about the communities you are interested in, including a breakdown of the local population, school ratings and more. With these tools, you'll feel like you've lived there for years!


Create Your RE/MAX.COM Account

Sign up for an account on our website to save searches, favorite homes you love, receive real time property alerts and more. RE/MAX is committed to providing consumers with tools that help make searching for homes and navigating the real estate process easier.


Download the RE/MAX App

Available for iOS and Android devices, our app brings the same experience found on our website to your smartphone or tablet. Save searches, favorite listings and schedule showings - all while on the go!

Top Tips for 1st Time Home Buyers

Budget Carefully

Be sure to budget carefully as you prepare to purchase a home. It can be tempting to max-out your budget in search of a large home, but that large home could be difficult to pay for if someone loses an income.

Keep Finances Consistent

When a lender is underwriting your loan, it's important to not make any large financial moves unless asked to do so by the lender. Don't take on new debt, don't make any large payoffs, don't change bank information, etc,

Do Your Research

Before you choose your next home, it's important to research the area to find about schools, crime and other important information. You'll also want to plan out where you'll get groceries, how you'll get to work and more.

Be Patient

In the competitive St. Louis real estate market, it's not uncommon to have an offer or two rejected. Don't get discouraged, the right home will eventually come along.

Attend Inspections

There's a lot to learn about your future home and the inspector can help that process. Attending the inspections will allow you to see any problems first-hand, as well as talk with the inspector about possible repair costs and any other additional issues you may need to worry about. Small details and important information can be missed when you only review the inspection report after-the-fact.

Coordinate Closing & Possession

Closing & posssession are stipulated in the contract. Pay extra attention to this part of the contract when making plans to hire movers, have appliances delievered and other things that may be scheduled for move-in day!

Schedule Utilities in Advance

Save yourself the hassle and schedule your utilities in advance. Call your utility company and have your service turned on or swtiched to your name effective on the closing date. This way, there won't be any time spent in the home without essential utilities such as electricity, gas and water.

Contact me for help with the home buying process.

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