So, you're thinking about buying a home! Congratulations. Whether this is your first home or not, it's important to make sure you go through this process carefully. There's a lot to do! Follow our checklist to guide you through this process.
- Make sure you don't have a lot of debt to your name. This can make it difficult to get a mortgage at a favorable rate, or at all.
- Check out the neighborhoods you're thinking of. Are they safe? How good are their schools? How far are they from important locations, such as grocery stores?
- Think about how much you can afford to pay for a home, and how much you're willing to spend.
Home Buying Checklist
- Get a copy of your credit report and correct any errors.
- Reduce your consumer debt – pay down any credit card balances, and continue paying down car loans and student loans.
- Assemble a cash down payment.
- Determine how much you can afford to pay for a home.
- Decide how much you are willing to spend for a home (different from how much you can afford).
- Get familiar with basic mortgage terms.
- Shop for a mortgage loan on the Internet.
- Get pre-approved or at least pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.
- Investigate neighborhoods where you want to look for a house.
- Consider neighborhood school quality and crime rates.
- Select two or three neighborhoods that meet your requirements.
When you're ready to shop:
- Find a real estate agent who specializes in the neighborhoods where you want to live.
- Work with your agent but also shop for a home at Internet sites such as HomeAdvisor and Realtor.com.
- Visit homes for sale and make notes.
- Get your agent's help in evaluating the asking price of homes you like.
- With the help of your real estate agent, write an Offer to Purchase.
- Complete all mortgage loan application requirements
Once you find a home:
- Hire an inspector to examine your prospective home.
- Accompany your inspector during the inspection.
- Get agreement on repairs to be made by the seller.
- Inspect repairs and handle other details prior to closing day.
- Hand over a certified check for the down payment and pick up the deed for your home.
After purchasing a home:
- Arrange for your items to be moved into your new home, either by yourself or by movers. Keep in mind that movers will be expensive, especially if you're making a move to another state or have a lot of items.
- Change the locks on your doors. Previous owners, or individuals who knew the owners, may have copies of the keys. For your safety, it's best to change the locks. Do this even if the previous owners seemed trustworthy; not everyone is who they seem. Don't forget about any locks on the garage, the yard, or any external buildings.
- Take care of any renovations or updates prior to moving your items in. It will be a lot easier to make these adjustments when you don't have to account for furniture and other items.
- Notify necessary parties of your address change. Make sure you update any government documents as needed.
- Get to know your neighbors! Pay your next-door neighbors a visit when you can. Ask them about the neighborhood, invite them over for dinner if they seem nice, and talk to them about anything you want to know about life in your new area.