Buying a first home is one of life’s greatest achievements. Like many achievements, though, it comes with hard work and perseverance. In the span of just a few months, you must find a home, qualify for a mortgage, make an offer, and close on the property.

You may find yourself asking: What exactly am I doing?

Luckily, there are some easy first steps to set yourself up for success.

Step 1: Identify Your Budget Range

The best action you can take when purchasing your first home is figuring out what you are capable of affording. Before you go to a bank or contact a real estate agent, you need to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. To calculate, divide your total debt by gross monthly income. This ratio is what banks will look at when you try to qualify for a mortgage.

If your percentage is especially high (greater than 43%), you may want to consider paying off more debt before moving further along in the process.

Step 2: Getting Your Finances in Order

Once you calculate your debt-to-income ratio, it is time to prepare for a mortgage. As a first-time homebuyer, you may qualify for a unique financing program such as down payment assistance or lower interest rates. This varies state by state.

The best way to qualify for a mortgage is to get pre-approved. A mortgage pre-approval requires you to supply a lending company with some basic financial information, and they will let you know what mortgage you may be eligible for. Some of the information you will need to provide to the lender are proof of employment, income statements, bank statements, and tax forms. Lenders will potentially want proof of rent payment or bankruptcy or foreclosure documents. While this process can be tedious, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is towards the goal of buying your first home.

Step 3: Find a Real Estate Agent

A qualified professional is the best person to get a job done, and homebuying is no different. You will want to find a qualified real estate agent or Realtor (official designation by the National Association of Realtors) in your area to help you find and close on a home. Realtors have deep knowledge of submarkets, school districts, neighborhood cultures, and house design. Unless you happen to be a real estate agent, it is next to impossible to replicate that knowledge.

Need a real estate agent in Hampton Roads, Virginia? Call the ProActive Team (Billy Wilson and Gary Layne) today at (757) 383-9510 or check out our website.

Once you have selected an agent, you will want to have a preliminary meeting. In the meeting, you will need to cover your priorities for the home and the budget you are working within. If you would like a specific style home or a certain sized yard, you need to let your real estate agent know. They are the ones best equipped to find what you are looking for.

Real estate agents also help you with the upcoming steps that finalize your purchase.

Step 4: Find a House, Make an Offer

Let us say you find the house that you are ready to make into a home. The next step to securing the purchase is to make an offer. Typically, when you make the offer, you will put 0.5%-3% into an escrow account while closing happens. This small deposit is known as earnest money, which demonstrates the buyer’s good faith, and may vary depending on the size of the home. Like other deals, if you pull out of the offer with no contractual reason, you will lose this deposit.

An experienced real estate agent or Realtor is key here, as they will help word the offer in a way that protects your interest. For example, you want to leave yourself leeway if your potential property does not pass a full home inspection. A good agent will know to write a clause in the offer that requires the property to pass full inspection or have all issues fixed.

During this part of the buying process, you will most likely be asked by the bank to pay for an appraisal of the property. An appraisal is a valuation of your property relative to the value of other properties recently sold. The cost of both an appraisal and home inspection vary by locality, but should be around $500 each. Your real estate agent should know respected appraisers and home inspectors and help set up appointments for you.

Step 5: Closing on Your Dream Home

If everything goes well with your appraisal and inspection, then you will begin the closing process. This will probably take between 30-45 days from when the lender starts processing the loan. You will receive a closing disclosure which documents the terms of your mortgage. This document will tell you what you owe at closing. To avoid delays, you should be ready to bring a cashier’s check or proof of wire transfer to a closing meeting. An agent will lead the closing process and help you sign all requisite paperwork. After all this is completed, the home is yours!

Final Thoughts

While this process is stressful, it is always worth it in the end. A place to call home is one of the safest comforts one can have. To deal with the stress of the homebuying process, be sure to use a qualified agent or Realtor. They will have your best interest in mind and a better understanding of the journey that is buying a home. We wish you lots of luck and hope you soon buy the house of your dreams!

Craig Champagne

Field Inspector/Real Estate Agent

Craig joined the ProActive Team in 2021 as a Field Inspector and Real Estate Agent. Originally from Waterbury, CT, Craig moved to Hampton Roads in 2015. As a talented small engine and electronics specialist, he previously owned his own business before entering the real estate industry. In his role as a field inspector and agent, Craig conducts on-site inspections after move-outs and before move-ins and shows properties to prospective tenants and buyers. In every interaction, Craig is committed to diligent research, honest communication, and thorough work for clients and customers.

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Nichole "Nickiey" Crosby

Maintenance/Contractor Supervisor

Nickiey joined the ProActive Team in 2022, having previously worked in property management for eight years. As Maintenance/Contractor Supervisor, she is responsible for all property inspections, maintenance requests, and coordinating workstreams across team members and third-party contractors. Born in Texas and raised in Virginia, Nickiey is the mother of three children, two boys and a girl.

Kandy FulliloveKandy Fullilove

REALTOR® and Military Relocation Professional

Kandy has lived in Norfolk since 1991 where she received her first orders as a Navy Seaman.  A proud military spouse of 30 years with 2 boys who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and now serving, Kandy can tell you a few things about the Hampton Roads area and military life.  Her own experiences as a home buyer and investor for over 20 years gives expertise to educating a buyer or seller on their many options in selecting the right home, building their wealth portfolio, and knowing when to sell to maximize their investment.  She has been in real estate since 2015.  She joined ProActive Real Estate to have the benefits of a full-service brokerage.  She always prides herself on integrity throughout the transaction and is here to help with all your real estate needs.


Karen DanielKaren Daniel

Associate Broker/Office Manager

Licensed in Virginia, Karen is our Office Manager and holds an Associate Broker designation.  Karen oversees all transactional operations and communications over our team of real estate agents, leasing specialists and maintenance crews. Karen has been a resident of Hampton Roads for over 40 years. Karen is also a seasoned real estate professional and is well versed in all the intricacies of the buying and selling process.


Joe LeeJoseph “Joe” Lee

Real Estate Agent

Joe Lee joined the ProActive Team in 2022 as a Real Estate Agent. Prior to joining the team, he was an Associate Real Estate Broker and Real Estate Appraiser, practicing residential and commercial real estate in the Tidewater, Virginia area for 45 years. His service areas include the South Side of Hampton Roads, the Peninsula, and Suffolk. In addition to his experience as an agent, Joe is a veteran of the United States Army and received his B.S. in Finance from Old Dominion University.


Bob JohnsonRobert “Bob” Johnson

Maintenance Coordinator

Bob Johnson has been with ProActive since 2019. A seasoned client relationship executive, he troubleshoots and manages tenants’ maintenance needs. He has spent several years painting, managing small electric projects, troubleshooting HVAC, and plumbing, as well as providing a detailed eye for general property aesthetics. He enjoys getting to know the ProActive tenants and strives to build long term success for both the valued tenants and property owners.


Hal DunkelHarold "Hal" Dunkel

Commercial Real Estate Agent

Hal Dunkel joined the ProActive Team in 2022 as a Real Estate Agent. Prior to ProActive, Hal was a Senior Associate for Statewide Commercial, Hal was responsible for representing office and industrial clients of all types, from tenants, landlords, purchasers and sellers, as well as multi-family developers, sellers and investors.

Chris OslanderChris Olander

Real Estate Agent and Maintenance Manager

A proud Texas native and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Chris became a Naval Aviator in 2012. Over the next nine years, he accumulated over 1,700 hours as a helicopter pilot and instructor pilot. In 2017, following the birth of his daughter, Chris became a licensed Realtor to help his wife, Nina, with her business anytime he wasn't flying. He worked behind the scenes becoming an expert in business finance while managing his family's personal investment properties. Chris considers his experience with managing his personal investments as the spark that launched him into full time property management for his clients. He cares for each of his owner's properties as if it were his own which has led to his exponential growth. When not at work, you’ll probably find Chris out on his mountain bike, praying for snow in the mountains so he can get out his snowboard, or at the rock climbing gym with his daughter.

Fouad Mohit

Sr. Business Broker/Commercial Real Estate Agent

For the past 35 plus years, Fouad Mohit has invested his time in the ownership and sale of business and commercial real estate in the greater Hampton Roads area. Through his personal experiences in a wide breadth of industries, including gas stations, convenient stores, grocery stores, both franchise and non-franchise restaurants, Mr. Mohit has honed his expertise in Main street business operations. With the divestiture of his business obligations in 2002, Mr. Mohit joined the Sunbelt team to supplement the global Network of Brokers with his know how and insights in the local market. Over years Mr. Mohit has helped Sunbelt transfer restaurants, retail stores, fitness centers, electrical companies, educational establishments, publishers, medical practices, production companies, and much more. His fundamental understanding of the main street structure gives Mr. Mohit the tools to, confidentially and with keen attention to detail, take the business and commercial real estate to close giving the highest yield and security to his clients. It is of the utmost importance that the longevity of the business and the stability of the community remain intact by allowing a new owner in the market with the business and the real estate. His experience in commercial real estate brings much knowledge to the ProActive Team.

Kingna Scott

Transaction Coordinator

Kingna “Scottie” Scott, a native of Farmville, VA, has always loved to assist people. She began her formal education at her alma mater, Norfolk State University, while also attending Old Dominion University, as well as TCC, to receive her Bachelor of Arts in 2009. Scottie has always been driven by an autonomous, enthusiastic passion to do her best, whenever and wherever. She is down to earth and has the gift of communication; relating with people from all walks of life. On her downtime she’s either creating music, studying, or spending time with her pets outdoors.

Laura Bazemore


Owner of Chesapeake Bay Bookkeeping & Accounting Services, LLC and a graduate of Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a minor in Information Systems Technology, Laura has many years of experience as a staff accountant in various fields such as restaurants, retail, healthcare and contracting. Because of her vast experience, she has a broad knowledge base to meet the needs of many different clients.  In her spare time, she enjoys country music, going to concerts with her friends and loves taking care of her rescue puppies!  Working with ProActive Real Estate Services has opened her eyes in all aspects of real estate transactions.

Gary Layne

Owner/Realtor ®(Residential/Commercial)

In today's competitive market, you need a passionate, local advisor that can help you navigate the residential/commercial selling and buying process. As a valued client, you'll receive:

  • Local market knowledge
  • Access to industry-leading real estate tools to determine your property value or customize your real estate search
  • A proven negotiator who will be with you every step of the way
  • A trusted and knowledgeable partner through closing and beyond


A resident of the Hampton Roads area for many years, and graduate of Old Dominion University, I have been engaged with this real estate market as a homeowner, business owner and investor for over 35 years. Presently residing in Norfolk, VA, and part owner of ProActive Real Estate Services, I specialize in residential & commercial real estate along with property management.  I am also associated with Sunbelt Business Brokers which allows me to assist business owners in listing their business for sale or assist those looking to purchase a business.  As a business owner and real estate agent, my goal is to provide strong customer service with open communication to obtain the goals of sellers and buyers in this market.

Direct: (757) 652-1225
Office: (757) 383-9510

Billy Wilson


A serial entrepreneur, Billy has launched and sold multiple successful businesses over the course of his career, but real estate has always been his passion. A lifelong Norfolk resident and graduate of Old Dominion University, Billy brings a wealth of valuable experience to the ProActive Team. From property management and flipping, to traditional listings and sales, Billy relies on years of experience to advise his clients in making the right buying or selling decisions. Billy loves to play tennis, “Old Boys” rugby, and spend time with his wife of 26 years, Anna. Billy’s daughter, Elise, is a teacher in Washington State, and his son, Will, attends Hampden Sydney College.

Direct: (757) 724-1793
Office: (757) 383-9510