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A Complete Guide for First Time Home Buyers

Are you a first-time home buyer looking to put down roots Spokane?

Well, you’re in luck! We have had the privilege of working with 40+ first-time home buyers and helping them navigate the complex process of purchasing their house in Spokane, WA. We love the opportunity to come alongside our new homeowners and assist them from our first meeting, all the way to closing. (Psst: If you have bought a home but forgotten all the little things that go into the process, this guide is for you, too!)

STEP ONE: Meet With Your Local Real Estate Agent

The first step in the home-buying process is to find the perfect real estate agent. Your agent will become one of the most important people to you while you buy your home, so you will want to make sure you trust them and like them! To begin, you should interview a potential real estate agent before hiring them.

Why is this relationship so important? Your agent should be able to tell you what the local market is doing, what homes are for sale within your price range, how aggressive your offer needs to be, and much, much more. You want your real estate agent to be as passionate about your home as you are because they will be with you every step of the way-and beyond! Because you will be interacting with this person so much and since they are helping you make one of the biggest decisions of your life, you want to trust them with your life!

Allow us to introduce ourselves.

We are the faces behind McInturff and Co., Kathryn and Reggie. Kathryn started McInturff and Co. because she loves “home”, and wants to help as many people find their place possible. 

We live in Spokane, WA and believe that this is the best place to live in the world–we’re not kidding! As your real estate professionals, it is our mission to find you the perfect place to live-whether you are a first time home buyer or looking to switch things up. Knowing Spokane like the back of our hands, and working with us means you get not only our passion for finding you a house you can call home, but also our carefully curated relationships with key people in the real estate industry and our deep knowledge of the housing market in Spokane and North Idaho. We promise to do whatever is necessary to get you settled into your future home.

We made our passion for home our full-time careers, and know that we can help you in this home-buying process

STEP TWO: Find a Trusted Local Lender

Once you have your real estate agent, It’s time for Step Two: Get connected with a trusted (local) lender.  A real estate lender is exactly what they sound like, someone who will lend you the money you need to purchase your home! Here at McInturff and Co. we always recommend finding a local lender because it can make communication that much easier, and communication with your lender is key! There will be a lot of back and forth with your lender as they get you ready for pre-approval. Being near your lender will make this easier for you, and for them.

Here is a list of local lenders that we LOVE:

STEP THREE: Pre-Approval

Pre-approval is exactly what it sounds like: You get the green light to receive a loan for your dream house. But what exactly is pre-approval and why do you need it?

There will come a point in your home-buying journey when it is time to start putting offers on houses. Having a pre-approval letter alongside your offer shows the seller that you are serious about buying their property and, even more importantly, that your finances are ready to go. When you have a pre-approval letter you are saying to the seller, “Hey, I am serious about buying your home and I have the money to prove it!” It may not make a difference in some real estate markets, but in a hot housing market, a letter of pre-approval could make all the difference.

STEP FOUR: Start House Hunting!

Okay! You have your realtor, you have your lender ready to give you a crazy amount of money, and you have your pre-approval letter in hand. You are ready to start house hunting in earnest. But in the current market, there are so many different houses to choose from, it is important to start searching with a plan.

Here is our advice after years spent in the real estate market:

  • Decide on your wants, needs, and your deal breakers: This is a list of your personal likes and dislikes in a home as well as the things that you need! Do you need three bedrooms and at least two bathrooms? Is it a deal breaker if a house has one and a half bathrooms, or can you let the half-bath slide? Do you need a fenced yard? Are you dead set on having a west-facing house? Do you like a bay window with a seat? Is it a deal breaker for you if there is no covered garage? Only you can decide on these things. When you begin house hunting with a list of things you’re looking for and a list of things that immediately cross a house off your list, it not only helps you but it helps your real estate agent! Instead of bringing you a never-ending list of houses that are “almost right,” your list of needs and deal breakers will help your real estate agent find you the perfect house even faster!
  • Narrow down the neighborhoods you want to look at. But out of a whole city, how does one decide where to live? There are so many factors going into this. Do you want to live near the closest highway or freeway? Do you want a big yard? Is there a particular school you want your kids to go to? These are all important things to consider as you decide on where you want to live. Your real estate agent will be able to help you narrow this search even more. This is why you want a realtor who knows the community you are looking in! The more they know about the market you are looking to live in, the better they will be able to guide you to the perfect place to live.

As Spokane real estate professionals, we want to help you find the perfect neighborhood for you to live in. Lucky for you, there are so many incredible areas to live in Spokane! Check out our Spokane Neighborhood Spotlights for some information on some of Spokane’s neighborhoods!!

STEP FIVE: Touring

You’ve sent your list of deal breakers and wants for your home. You’ve narrowed down the neighborhoods you want to live in. You have your finances ready to go. Now comes the really fun part: Touring! Your real estate agent will make sure that you are the first to know about any great houses hitting the market. They will send listings your way, and you can decide if you want to see it in person! During this stage, you want to be flexible! You never know, your dream house may not be something you have ever seen before. If you stay open-minded to tour listings in different styles, sizes, and neighborhoods, you may find something you never even dreamed of! This is where it is crucial that you have a great relationship with your real estate agent and that you trust them!

We know that for first time home buyers, the process of house hunting can be overwhelming. It is our goal to take all the stress off your shoulders, but more than that! Searching for your dream home should be FUN! With McInturff and Co. we can guarantee that finding your perfect home is our mission. We are constantly researching up-and-coming neighborhoods and keeping our eye on the local Spokane real estate markets so that you get the most relevant information. We will use your list of wants for your home, but also we can get creative. Because of our relationships within the community, we will be able to find you the best houses on the market in Spokane! Our goal is to get you the perfect house and to have fun doing so!

STEP SIX: Making an Offer!

Writing an offer for a house is a precarious process that requires a delicate touch. You have to walk the line between being aggressive and not breaking the bank. Luckily, McInturff & Co. is on the job! We know that sitting down to write an offer is a big moment for you as a home buyer, and we will walk you through every step of the process. 

First, some terms you should know:

  • Market Analysis: This is a study of your local real estate market to see what houses are valued at. Your realtor will take the house you want to write an offer for and look at similar houses in your market to see what a competitive offer should look like! A Market Analysis ensures you have the best information to write a great offer.
  • Earnest Money: Although this may sound like a complicated thing, earnest money is simply a deposit put down on a house to show that you are serious about purchasing.
  • Offer Price: This is exactly what you think it is! It is the price that you put on your offer for a home. This is determined by looking at a variety of things, like the local real estate market, the price the house is listed at, and whether the house needs a lot of work or not. This is why you want a seasoned real estate agent to help you set the best offer price.
  • Contingencies: Are built conditions that must be met in order for a real estate contract to become binding. Contingencies can be a timeframe, inspection parameters, appraisal values, and much more. Again, navigating contingency clauses can feel overwhelming, and you want someone who knows how these contracts work to help you feel safe as you place an offer on a home.
  • Closing Timelines: Once the seller accepts your offer, you set a closing date when you officially take ownership of your new home (pop the champagne!). But this can be negotiated between you and the seller. Usually, a closing timeline is between 30-60 days.

As you can tell, there is a lot of real estate jargon involved in writing an offer. It is not your job to know all of these terms like the back of your hand, it’s ours! Writing an offer is the perfect example of why you want to have a great real estate agent who can write an offer that is appealing to a seller but also keeps you safe!

Writing your first offer can be intimidating and overwhelming, but a good realtor can make it feel like a breeze. Here at McInturff & Co. we can guarantee that you are in capable hands. We will walk you through this entire process, defining every term, and explaining every detail. It is our goal to make you feel like a real estate expert and like you are writing a great offer on your dream home!

Some people call us “The Negotiators”

No, they don’t really call us this, but wouldn’t that be fun? And it would be a fitting nickname for us! Kathryn and Reggie are fierce negotiators, and will not rest until you have a great offer for the perfect house!

STEP SEVEN: Contracts and Closing

Okay! You have found the house, you’ve written an incredible offer, and the seller ACCEPTED (queue confetti poppers and party music). Now you are officially under contract! Now, whatever contingencies were written into your contract come into play.

  1. You will want to call your local inspector and have the house looked over with an expert eye. Not that you are not an expert, but an inspector looks for different things than open floor plans and great lighting. Your inspector will make sure that everything is sound with the house and help you avoid any nasty surprises upon moving in! McInturff and Co. has done a lot of work to find quality inspectors in the Spokane area. Here is a list of some people we trust!
  2. While you are working with an inspector, the bank that you got your loan through will send an appraiser to check the home. This person will take in a variety of factors and say exactly how much the home is worth. This is for the bank to make sure that their investment with you is sound and that the home is worth the money you are paying for it!
  3. While the inspector and appraiser are doing their thing, your agent will still be hard at work negotiating final closing costs. This could include your home warranty, any major projects that need to be done (like fixing a roof), and so much more! This time may feel like a lot of waiting, but it is well worth it because you will have the keys to your dream home at the end!
  4. While your agent is doing all of that, you will want to look into Home Insurance. This isn’t as scary as it sounds. You can use big-name brands like Progressive or AllState, but we can refer you to some local Spokane insurance agents that we trust! It’s not necessary to use a local home insurance agency, but as you know by now McInturff & Co. is all about local! We love this community and know it can be easier to get a hold of your insurance agent if they are nearby and not tucked in some office thousands of miles away!


Today is the day! You’ve gotten through inspection and appraisal and negotiating all the nitty gritty details. Today you finally get the keys to your dream house! To make sure that this day happens smoothly here are some things you will want to bring:

  1. Your Photo ID
  2. A cashier’s check made out to the closing company
  3. Any documents for your mortgage agent

On your closing day, you will pay any outstanding closing costs and sign a whole mess of papers! Be sure your writing hand is ready and your signature is practiced! After signing more things than you thought humanly possible, the seller will sign transfer documents and the title company will officially put the deed in your name!

And then it’s PARTY TIME!

Welcome to your new home! We know you will love this next season of your life and are so excited that your dream has become a reality!

The McInturff & Co. Guarantee:

Here at McInturff & Co., we can guarantee that we will fight for your home as if it were our own. We believe that every person deserves to have their dream home and we are in your corner. Equipped with killer negotiating skills, the most updated information on local Spokane real estate markets, and the same desire to get you settled as quickly as possible we promise to make the home-buying process as easy as possible for you!


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