The 5 Steps of Buying Your First Home

Do you remember your first home purchase?


This was the first home I purchased in Lake Charles, LA  in 1983 and where I started my family. I can remember how rich it felt to have a 3 bedroom 2 bath brick home on a slab with a backyard, in a neighborhood with sidewalks!!!  There are always sweet memories associated with the first home you settle into and this is the story of a memorable Lake Charles home purchase.




I work with first time home buyers all the time and it never gets old for me to share in the excitement of the adventure. This is the story my personal experience assisting Lake Charles First Time Home Buyers who are pretty special to me….my daughter and son-in-law.

After renting a house for several years, like many other young millinieals they decided the time was right to purchase a home and take advantage of low interest rates. Lake Charles continues to experience economic growth and with that our Lake Charles homes have risen in value.  Lake Charles Real Estate  is  currently experiencing a “sellers’ market and there is a lack of homes priced below $200,000. The challenge to find a home in good condition with very little repairs is daunting and many times buyers will run into multiple bids for a property.

 5 Steps of Buying your First Home


When buyers finally obtain a pre approval and decide on their affordability, that is when the Realtor goes to work searching for a match. Sometimes buyers become discouraged in the process when trying to stay within their budget and discover its not as easy as HGTV makes it seem! New construction was not an option given the price point my kids were searching in, so they realized that they would have to look for an older home. Viewing older homes is like visiting your Grandparents house…nothing is updated! So when you find that needle in the haystack and a house pops up that is a one owner home that doesn’t scream 1970’s with shag carpeting, gold/avacado earth tones it stands out as a contender. Thats exactly what happened when I was searching in the MLS and came upon a house that I suggested we go view. Lake Charles homes don’t stay on the market long and as a Mother I was sensitive to the need that my kids wanted to think about it over the weekend. My inner Realtor sense became nervous as I knew showings would continue over the weekend and they could miss out on this home. I always tell people that you just know when its the right house…you get a feeling and it sticks with you. Its like picking out your wedding dress, you just know after trying on 20 which one is going to be right for you.



We excitedly put in an offer on March 17 and I hoped that the “luck of the Irish” would win out and get an accepted contract. St Patrick was working overtime for us that weekend because that weekend we negotiated back and forth with counter offers and by Monday had an accepted contract.







Escrow Deposit Check is Delivered






After a contract is accepted the buyers enter into their inspection period. It stands to reason that a 30-40 year old home is going to have some issues that we cannot see. The inspector discovered in the inspection that the Breaker Box was a Federal Pacific brand. Building codes have evolved over the years and the breaker box is not up to current code. The problem with Federal Pacific is you can no longer obtain parts to replace a breaker, and if you do they are very expensive. The inspector recommended changing/updating the breaker box to avoid a fire/safety overload. The second major thing that can be discovered is an old HVAC unit. It was discovered that the air conditioning was not cooling sufficiently and would not drop below 73. The furnace was also rusted out. Inspectors will usually defer to a professional evaluation of an electrician, roofer, HVAC for further evaluation.



We moved on to obtaining bids to discover what the cost would be for replacing the HVAC and electrical. The buyers submitted their inspection response and then had to wait for the Seller to respond. Air conditioning is important here in in SWLA and we have already experienced days in the 80’s during March/April. Our summer temperatures can get int the 100’s. It was evident that the HVAC needed to be replaced, however the Seller responded with no repairs and offered very little to be used toward closing costs. This was a disappointing blow to the buyers, who have a final response and can choose to withdraw from contract or pursue at this point. I notified the Seller’s agent that no matter what happened with the current contract, if these buyers pulled out the Seller would continue to experience issues with the air conditioning as we approached summer and it would come up in inspection again with another buyer. St. Patrick must have still been working some Irish magic because over the weekend, the Seller asked for an extension to obtain his own bids. This resulted in the same outcome, that the professionals recommended replacement, so our luck held out and the Seller agreed to $8,000 in repairs!!!

Repair allowances have to be handled very delicately. Most lenders will not allow a repair allowance, it raises a red flag. Therefore, the allowance is usually handled as a seller credit (used toward buyer’s closing costs) My buyers were doing FHA financing so they were only allowed a max of $6,500. We didn’t want to leave $1,500 on the table so it was negotiated that the sales price would be reduced. The buyers will have to make the repairs themselves after closing, but they get to keep the money they would have had to bring for closing costs in their pocket, so its a win/win.



After two weeks of inspection dilemmas, appraisal could now be ordered. It was a happy day when the appraisal came in without issue and above the contract price!  At this point the Realtor’s job is finished and we all await the underwriter to give final approval and sign off on the loan.

















On Closing Day, the Loan documents and the closing disclosure (CD) is sent to the Title Company and/or Closing Attorney for the Buyer to complete. The Deed is signed by Buyer/Seller and recorded at the Courthouse along with the Home Loan Promissory Note.  After all the paperwork the new owners get the keys and are proud new homeowners!






As a Century 21 Mike D Bono Realtor for over 10 years, I  have closed hundreds of homes however I never get tired of seeing the excitement and happiness of a first time home buyer.  It is a a rewarding experience to help facilitate a memorable event in someone’s life, especially when its your daughter!!!  Let me help walk you through the process and same excitement of your Lake Charles Home Purchase!

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