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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: Define Your Maine Dream Home

Buying a home is exciting! But before diving in, you’ll want to map out your dream home and timeline. Decide on your location preferences, property type, size, and features. These can change over time as you learn more about the market. You’ll also want to figure out what your timeline looks like. Are you casually looking and won’t need to move for a year or more, or is it crunch time?  Pro Tip: Develop a "must-have" and "wish list" to prioritize what truly matters. Be open to this list changing as you learn more.


Step 2: Find Your Maine Real Estate Agent Partner

Maine is a unique market, and navigating it alone can be difficult. Unless you know the area you're looking in, the market, and the process of buying real estate like the back of your hand, I recommend working with an experienced real estate agent to represent you. Their local knowledge, market expertise, and negotiation skills will be key assets for you as you enter a competitive marketplace. The right real estate agent will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities, and will help you find the right home, at the right price, while mitigating risk and stress.


Step 3: Deep Dive with Your Agent

A good real estate agent will start with an in-depth conversation to understand your budget and search criteria. Together, you'll determine if your dream home aligns with reality, and if not, what you might need to be flexible on. This is where it’s important to have clarity on your “must have” and “nice to have” list.


Step 4: Set up Your Search

The Maine real estate market moves fast, so I’d recommend setting up a search that will alert you to any new listings that match your criteria. You can set one up yourself online, or your agent can set up a customized search in the MLS. Your agent will look for properties for you as well. Pro Tip: Set the search up to deliver new listings to your email inbox every day. This will help you avoid endless Zillow scrolling, but still ensure that you’re seeing everything that might be of interest.

My goal is to provide you with the most personalized service that is designed to help you buy your dream home.


Step 5: Show Your Strength as a Buyer

If financing your purchase, get prequalified for a mortgage. In this competitive market, a pre-qualification letter from a reputable lender is an essential part of a strong offer. I can connect you with reputable lenders if you do not already have one you trust. Pro Tip: Talk to more than one lender and compare rates. A prequalification letter from a Maine lender can often be superior to one from an out-of-state lender in the eyes of a seller.


Step 6: Explore and Refine Your Vision

Start seeing properties. Looking at homes online is great, but seeing them in person is even better. Even if a home isn't perfect, it provides valuable insight about the market and will help you refine your criteria as you see features you like and don’t like.


Step 7: Make Your Move – Craft a Winning Offer

With the guidance of your real estate agent and your growing market knowledge, you'll be able to craft a competitive offer when you find the right home. Your can run a comparative market analysis (CMA) to bring objective data to bear on the question of the right offer amount. Your agent should talk you through the offer document you’ll be submitting, and will give you advice on how to structure the other components of the offer such as due diligence period, earnest money deposit, closing timeline, and seller concessions. Pro Tip: When crafting an offer, keep in mind that there are a lot of important features over and above the price you’re willing to pay. Consider each variable carefully, as they can make or break a deal.


Step 8: Under Contract

Once under contract, your agent will guide you through the process of having the property inspected, getting financing when applicable, and negotiating any terms that might need to change as a result of your due diligence process. A good agent will be organized and systematic in their approach to this process and will make it easy for you to stay on track. Pro Tip: If you are financing, 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. Your agent and lender can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each loan type.


Step 9: Closing

Your agent will ensure that you understand all the details of the transaction and associated costs, and will be there with you at the closing table to ensure they can answer any last minute questions you may have. Your agent should be able to help you find movers and contractors to ensure a smooth transition and make your new home a 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.

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Ryan was a great agent. He gave me a good tour to orient me to the area I was looking to buy a property and never pushed any property hard. When it came to negotiating as a buyer he had good instincts and, well, our offer was accepted. Plus easy company thought out the process of hunting for real estate, with good humor and plenty of energy. Knowledgeable.

— Joan | A Great Agent


Ryan was the selling agent for our lakefront home. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to go the extra mile to ensure we received the best possible outcome. He offered valuable suggestions and provided emotional support during the waiting period. He checked in regularly and was prompt in returning our calls. We have worked with other realtor, and Ryan was by far the best! I would not hesit...

— Patti | You Won't Find Better


Ryan is a highly skilled real estate professional and an absolute pleasure to work with! He recently represented us in our home search and purchase and helped make the process smooth and manageable from start to finish. He has a wealth of knowledge about Maine real estate. Ryan brings balance, perspective, and patience to the inherently-stressful process of finding and buying a home. He also brings a sha...

— Matt & Chris | A Fantastic Realtor®


I recently had the pleasure of working with Ryan on the purchase of my new home in Cape Elizabeth, ME. Throughout a lengthy search in a competitive buying environment, Ryan provided incredible value at every step of the process. Being new to the area, Ryan's extensive knowledge of Southern Maine provided me with great insight and confidence in understanding the market. Ryan has an eye for detail and an i...

— Dan | The Easiest and most Enjoyable Home Buying Process I've Experienced


We feel so fortunate to have worked with Ryan to purchase our first home! We especially appreciated his attentiveness to our interests in a home, endurance with our year-long search, advocacy during the offer period, and consistent responsiveness. He went above and beyond in his role to make sure we were informed and supported throughout the entire process. He is great at his job and a great human too.

— Amy & Jess | Highly Recommend!


Top notch. Ryan helped us realize a dream of ours. We definitely put him through the ringer through our process. We had extremely tight parameters on price, home type, location and pet situations. It took a year and a fair amount of offers but in the end Ryan found us a home. He expertise and patience through out the entire scope was exceptional.

— Michael | Top Notch


We used Ryan FitzGerald from Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty to make an out of state purchase. Ryan contacted us about properties that came up for sale as well as we contacted him for properties we found. Ryan went to each of the properties and zoom’d when possible. With the Market as busy as it was, we looked at a number of homes. Ryan listened to our wants and needs; as there were cert...

— Michele | Highly recommend