Buyer's Guide

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. Use our calculator below to help determine your budget. 

Mortgage Calculator

Estimate your monthly mortgage payment, including the principal and interest, property taxes, and HOA. Adjust the values to generate a more accurate rate.
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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. I may be able to steer you away from certain homes or neighborhoods, suggest hidden gems, or give you pointers that will help you find your dream home for the right price.

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

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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. 

Our Testimonials

See why our clients love working with the CSG team.


Mario Huffman

Jon is the best of the best. From the moment we expressed our desires, to the day we found the perfect home! There is not a more knowledgeable real estate agent in the Greater RVA area who will seek to understand your vision ...
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Dr. Iris Martin

Working with Jon was such a pleasure. This was my first time buying a home and he really took the time to answer all my questions and explained each step of the process along the way. On top of that, the CSG team utilizes a p...
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Kebrah Jefferson

Great business and we really enjoyed working with Jon Bibbs! He showed us homes located in our preferred areas and all the homes met the majority of our wish list. He also moved the home buying process along quickly and efficie...
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Mary Blankinship

Jon was so personal and thoughtful with each step & detail! He answered any and all questions we had (we had a lot as new home buyers) but he always thoroughly responded and would be available whenever we needed him! Get this g...
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Dr. Cheri Bridgeforth

What a smooth and positive experience working with CSG. Jonathan Bibbs was the realtor for the sale of our house, and he treated us as if we were his only clients. Jonathan took care of details, provided his expert knowledge on...
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Aaron Forrester

It was a pleasure working with Jon. He was knowledgable and interested in helping my wife and I find the right house for us. I didn't feel pressured or rushed. I would recommend John to anyone looking for a house in the Richmon...
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Abel Gebremichael

Jonathan Did excellent work start to finish. i have interviewed 4 agent and he was the one who stood out because he not only was familiar with the area but also he worked hard to get the property ready, negotiated strongly with...
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Billie Jenkins

I learned so much from Jon in such a short amount of time. I told him I wanted my house sold fast and he delivered on that promise. I couldn’t be happier with the buyer or any of our terms. This is my 3rd property transaction a...
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Jon Bibbs, ABR®, SRS®

Jon Bibbs, ABR®, SRS®

Realtor®️ / Sr. CSG Advisor™️

Get to Know Me

Jon is a lifelong Richmond resident with a unique understanding of the entire Richmond metro area, including Chesterfield County and Henrico County. As the crossroads of the East Coast and the Commonwealth of Virginia capital, Richmond is a vibrant city teeming with amazing art, music, food, festivals, and fascinating culture. It has also evolved into a burgeoning business hub home to some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the east and multiple Fortune 500 companies. 

Not only is Jon an area expert, but he is well-connected and provides a great network of support. Relentless, focused, and hard-working, Jon leverages those connections to serve his clients better. 

For Jon, the most exciting aspect of his work as a realtor is the opportunity to meet a diverse range of people from all walks of life. He looks forward to expanding his knowledge of this beautiful historic and metro area. As a Richmond native, Jon dedicates himself to helping his clients get the best out of this incredible city. They can count on him to represent their best interests. 

Jon leads with optimism and diligence in everything he does. He often says, "we're all overcoming something," which is why he takes so much pride in sharing that resilience with others and encouraging his clients to persevere even in the face of hardships. 

Using his personal experience, he gives his clients the professional and flexible execution of tricky real estate transactions and the patience and compassion essential to helping people navigate what can be an emotionally taxing time. 

Jon is a highly regarded singer and songwriter and received his Doctor of Fine Arts (Honoris Causa) from the Virginia University of Lynchburg in 2012 in recognition of his musical work. He cares deeply about his community and serves on several boards and commissions in the city, including "Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth" Advisory Council, “Get Lit” Advisory Board for Richmond Public Library, and the East Marshall Street Well Project at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a devoted member of the executive leadership of Richmond Prep and regularly volunteers at faith communities throughout the city.

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