Home Buying Checklist To Get You Started

The process of buying your first home can seem overwhelming, and it’s not always clear where to start and what the first step should be. With so many procedures to go through it’s tough to be sure you haven’t missed anything. Things tend to get simpler, however, when you’re able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We’ve broken down the major steps of the home buying process and created an easy-to-use checklist for buying your first home.

Home Buying Process Checklist

Determine What You Can Afford

Determine What You Can Afford

This should be your first step, before looking at any properties or searching for agents. Look at your monthly income, and deduct any debt payments and general cost of living (minus rent). This should give you a rough idea of what you will be able to afford, and enable you to search for homes that fit your budget. Make sure to calculate the upfront and closing costs of buying a house into your budget in the near future, and set aside the approximate amount (3-7% of the purchase price of your future home).
buying your first home checklist

Check Your Credit

Your credit score will have a huge impact on your mortgage prospects. Request your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus and check for any mistakes. Pay off as many outstanding debts as possible to ensure that your debt-to-income ratio is as low as possible before proceeding on your house hunt. Also keep in mind that it’s best to avoid any large purchases on credit from this point and until you’ve closed on your new home.
Real Estate Agent

Find A Real Estate Agent

Agents can not only help you look for your future home – a good agent will also be able to help you with many aspects of the home buying process and answer a lot of questions you may have along the way. A good agent can give you tips on mortgage lenders and help guide you in the right direction throughout the major steps of the home buying process. The best agents are usually found through recommendations, however if this is not possible try to choose an experience agent with a relatively small number of current clients.
home buying process checklist

Start Shopping For A Mortgage

Shopping around for a mortgage is one of the most important steps in the home buying process, and will have long-term effects over the lifetime of your mortgage. Determine if you qualify for various types of mortgages (FHA, VA, USDA) and which one is right for you. If you opt for a private mortgage make sure you shop around with various lenders (a good rule of thumb is to check with a minimum of three lenders) and brokers for the mortgage that best suits your needs and financial situation.
home buying process checklist

Get Pre-Approved

Once you’ve found a suitable mortgage, make sure you get preapproved. This will help you once you’ve found a home you would like to place an offer on by giving your offers more weight in the eyes of the seller. Remember that the mortgage you’ve been preapproved for is a maximum, not a goal. If you’ve determined that you can afford a certain monthly payment, don’t let the monthly payment calculated from the preapproval sway your decision.
home buying checklist

Begin Looking For Homes

With the help of your agent, armed with a solid knowledge of what you can afford, and with preapproval paperwork in hand, you can now start shopping around for a home. Remember that you are buying a home to live in, and that means more than just the layout of the house – take into account the local amenities, schools (even if you don’t have or don’t plan on having children – schools have a huge impact on the home’s value), local infrastructure, and the neighborhood in general. Making sure the neighborhood suits your lifestyle is key, as it ensures that you select a home that you will actually love to live in. On average, future homeowners will spend 10 weeks searching for a home, so be patient. Buying a home is a big step, so don’t rush it.

Make an Offer

Make An Offer

Finally, once you’ve found a home, you can make an offer. Listen to your agent, as they will have more experience and a broader knowledge of the market. Keep the offer slightly lower than what you would like to pay, but don’t lowball. Keep in mind that your offer may be met with a counteroffer from the seller. Be prepared to negotiate, but also be prepared to walk away if you find yourself being dragged towards a price you will not be able to realistically afford.
Home Inspection

Get A Home Inspection

Home inspections are a must – just because a house looks nice from the outside doesn’t mean there aren’t hidden (and often costly) issues. Your offer should be contingent on a professional home inspection, and if any issues do arise check with the seller to see if they are willing to complete the repairs before the sale or deduct their estimated costs from the sale price. Check with your agent for recommendations here too – they may be able to refer you to an inspector and possibly even contractors for any necessary repairs.

Move In

Close On Your Home And Move In

After you’ve agreed on a price with the seller, the inspection has been completed, and any issues with the house fixed, you can close the deal on your home. This process takes time, and your real estate agent should be able to give you updates and a general idea of what kind of timeframe you can expect. Once everything has been finalized you will receive the keys to your new home. You can now begin painting or any other renovations you have planned and move in to your new home.