Are You Ready for Home Ownership? A First-Time Homebuyer's Guide to Real Estate Professionals

If this is your first time buying a home, get to know all the real estate professionals and key players who will be involved in your homebuying journey.

Real estate agent and happy couple. Professionals in the homebuying process

What We'll Cover

  • The 9 key players involved in the homebuying process
  • The difference between a listing agent and a buyer’s agent
  • How to find your real estate agent and other homebuying professionals

If you’re ready to buy your first home, know that you won’t be alone in the homebuying process. In fact, you’ll have enough professionals involved to field a baseball team! All these titles and roles might seem intimidating, but they’re here to help you with each important step of your homebuying journey.

Just like the players on a baseball team, each real estate professional has its “position” in the homebuying process. Let’s look at each of the parties involved, how they help you, and how you can find the right professionals to help you build a winning homebuying team.


9 Real Estate Professionals for Your First-Time Homebuying Process

Here are the 9 key players involved in the homebuying process that you’ll want to get familiar with.

Real Estate Professionals and Their Roles
Listing Real Estate Agent
Represents the homeowner who is selling their property
Buyer’s Real Estate Agent
Represents the homebuyer and assists with arranging showings and communicating offers
Mortgage Lender
Helps homebuyers secure a home loan
Home Insurance Agent
Helps you find the right insurance for your home (which is a requirement for lenders)
Escrow Agent
Serves as a neutral intermediary between the buyer, seller and other parties involved
Title Officer
Runs a title search to ensure there are no other claims to your property
Property Inspector
Conducts a thorough assessment of the home you’re buying to detect any major problems
Assesses the home’s value in the neighborhood
Notary Signing Agent
Witnesses the signing of documents, notarizes the documents and sends them to the state

1. Listing Real Estate Agent

A listing agent represents the homeowner who is selling their property. They will work with the homeowner to determine a listing price based on comparable neighborhood sales activity and local market trends. They list the home and market it, which can involve buying digital ads, sending mailers to the community and hosting open houses. When an offer is made on the home, the listing agent negotiates on the owner’s behalf with the buyer’s agent and assists the homeowners through the closing process.

2. Buyer’s Real Estate Agent

The buyer’s agent, on the other hand, represents the interests of the person buying a home – that's you! With the homebuyer’s price range, needs and goals in mind, the agent will find homes that might be a good fit, then arrange showings. Once the buyer finds the right home, the buyer’s agent will help determine an offer price, draft a purchase contract and negotiate on their behalf.

In some cases, the same agent represents both the seller and the buyer. This is called “dual agency.”

Pro Tip: A buyer’s agent is also known as a real estate agent or realtor.

While it is possible to buy a home without the assistance of an agent, there is immense value in working with a professional. Because of their education and experience, realtors have expertise in the workings of the real estate market that the average consumer simply can’t match. Your realtor can help you search through listings and may be aware of listings you don’t see online because of their network. The right realtor will act as a trusted expert who will guide you through the entire homebuying process.

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3. Mortgage Lender

One of the key real estate professionals in the homebuying process is the mortgage lender; they represent the institution that finances your mortgage. At OneAZ, we have mortgage loan officers that help homebuyers through the financial process. They’ll walk you through the application process, help you get prequalified for a home loan, and will help determine the best financing option for you. They’ll help you understand how much you can afford when buying a home. The mortgage lender – or one of our mortgage loan officers – is the person you’ll turn to with all financial questions in the homebuying process.

4. Home Insurance Agent

You are required to purchase home insurance when obtaining a mortgage loan. Since your home is such a valuable asset, you’ll want to shop around and find the right homeowners insurance company. Take into account the home’s location, condition and age when selecting the type of insurance to go with.


5. Escrow Agent

An escrow agent serves as a neutral intermediary between the buyer, seller and other parties involved in the homebuying process. When buying a home, you’ll likely put down earnest money, or a good faith deposit that ensures your commitment to buying the home to the seller. The escrow agent holds the money deposit in a secure escrow account, ensuring that it’s protected until the transaction is successfully completed.

Additionally, an escrow agent reviews and verifies all necessary documents to ensure they’re accurate and in compliance with the agreed-upon terms. The agent also coordinates with the mortgage lender, ensuring all financial requirements are met and the necessary funds are available for closing. This person serves as a point of contact for you and helps streamline the transaction of buying a home.

6. Title Officer

The title company is a key player in the homebuying process who works in the background to protect your investment. They’ll run a title search on your property to review public records and ensure there are no outstanding liens, overdue taxes, zoning restrictions, mortgages against it or other issues that might get in the way. The title officer will schedule your closing date and facilitate the closing. They will also issue a title insurance policy for you and the mortgage lender, protecting both parties if someone claims to have rights to the property down the line.

Your mortgage lender will likely defer to title agents and companies they’ve used in the past, but you can also choose your own title company if you wish.


7. Property Inspector

A property inspector does a thorough assessment of the home you’re buying to detect any major problems. They look at a home from top to bottom, assessing for major foundational concerns as well as smaller issues that require quick repair. This person is responsible for detecting and communicating any repairs needed in the home. They help you determine whether required repairs are a deal breaker or negotiable before purchasing.

It is the buyer’s responsibility to find a home inspector to conduct the home inspection, so you’ll want to search for a credible company. Your mortgage lender or real estate agent can likely recommend companies for you.

8. Appraiser

You will need to have a home appraisal done to confirm the value of the home you’re buying prior to closing. This protects you and the mortgage lender from financing more than the home is worth. Your mortgage lender will select an appraisal company, but the cost falls on the buyer.

The appraiser does a home visit to assess the property and determines the value of the home by assessing the value of other homes in the neighborhood. That means comparing your future home to recently sold homes in the neighborhood and comparing features. In cases where the home appraises for less than expected, you may need to negotiate the home price with the seller.


9. Notary Signing Agent

The notary signing agent is a third party who acts as a witness while you sign the closing documents. This person will help ensure that you know and understand what you’re signing. They will notarize the documents and mail them for official recording.

Key Takeaways

  • The right realtor will act as a trusted expert who will guide you through the entire homebuying process.
  • Mortgage loan officers walk you through the application process, help you get prequalified for a home loan, and will help determine the best mortgage option for you.
  • You are required to purchase home insurance when obtaining a mortgage loan.

Quite a few real estate professionals are involved in your first-time homebuying process from beginning to end. While all these roles can be intimidating, they’re all here to help ensure a smooth and honest transaction for you and the seller. Lean on your real estate agent or mortgage lender for referrals on hiring companies or individuals for these roles. These professionals have experience in the business and know who serves the local area, so let them help you find the right people.

Now that you know what real estate professionals you’ll need on your team, are you ready for home ownership? Contact our mortgage team today to get prequalified.

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