Buying a home is one of the most exciting purchases ever! Here is a purchase checklist to guide you through the process.
- Be sure you’re ready to buy a home
- Determine how much you can afford
- Organize your personal information
- Get pre-approved
- Find a real estate agent
- Search for a home
- Research areas and neighborhoods of interest
- Visit selected homes
- Make an offer on the home you want
- Arrange financing
- Schedule a home inspection
- Prepare for closing
Be sure you’re ready to buy a home
- Consider all costs involved, including taxes, homeowner’s insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and utilities.
- Consider the responsibilities of home ownership, from mowing the lawn to maintaining the roof.
Determine how much you can afford
- Consider all costs involved, including upfront costs such as the down payment and closing costs.
- Estimate the monthly mortgage payment.
- Include in your estimates other costs such as taxes and maintenance, as well as insurance and any applicable association fees.
- Tip: Use the mortgage calculator found under each home listing on this site to run the numbers.
Organize your personal information
- Check your credit report to make sure that there are no errors.
- Gather documents such as financial statements and tax forms.
- Make sure to have the following information readily available: the name, address, and Social Security number of all applicants; contact information for your current landlord or mortgage company; a pay stub and employer information; the value of your assets; and the source of your down payment and closing costs.
- Make sure that you have the Social Security numbers of all borrowers involved.
- A pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford, give you the power to negotiate and even make an offer, and show sellers that you’re a qualified buyer.
Find a real estate agent
- Consider special, personal needs with which a real estate professional may be able to help you. Real estate agents can specialize in a variety of areas, including, employee relocation, military markets, or vacation homes.
Search for a home
- Search for properties online to get an idea of the homes that are available in your price range.
- Drive through areas that interest you in order to spot “For Sale” signs and to get a feel for different neighborhoods.
Research areas and neighborhoods of interest
- Try visiting your preferred neighborhoods at different times of the day and at different days of the week to observe patterns of noise and traffic.
- Use our Look tool to find statistics on neighborhoods, schools, and other demographic information important in your search for a home. Your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate agent may also have some of the information you need.
Visit selected homes
- Take your time. Carefully examine both the interior and exterior of each home you consider. You may want to visit more than once if you’re seriously interested.
- Compare the prices of similar homes in the surrounding area. Your real estate agent will supply you with comparable properties (“comps”).
- Tip: If the market is competitive, be prepared to act fast. A pre-approval will give you the ability to make an offer on the home you want and shows the seller you’re financially able to buy the home — and that can give you an advantage over other buyers.
Make an offer on the home you want
- Before deciding on the amount of your offer, consider important factors such as the condition of the home, the competitiveness of the local marketplace, inspections, time restrictions and more.
- Consult with your real estate agent for professional input on determining the amount of your offer.
- Include in your offer provisions for a home inspection and an outline of the actions to be taken if problems arise.
- Tip: Always check with your real estate agent before making an offer — it may be legally binding. Working with a licensed Real Estate agent may be beneficial and make the process smoother.
- Call your mortgage consultant with the property address.
- Your mortgage consultant will explain your options for rates, terms, points and other details about loan programs you may qualify for.
- Sign the necessary documents for application.
Schedule a home inspection
- Ask your real estate agent to help you find a reputable, professional home inspector, and to help schedule the inspection.
- Tip: It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection. It’s an ideal opportunity to ask important questions about the property.
Prepare for closing
- Make sure your closing date is scheduled prior to any rate lock expirations on your mortgage loan.
- If you’re also selling a home and need the cash from the sale, make sure that the closing on your current property is scheduled prior to the closing on your new home.
- Arrange for your real estate agent or an attorney to be present. That will help assure that all closing tasks are completed to your satisfaction.
- Check with your closing agent to find out the amount of certified funds — a cashier’s check or money order — needed for closing.
- Make arrangements for all people needed to sign closing documents to be present. This may include your spouse or any other co-signer.
- Make arrangements at work and with childcare to be absent for 3-4 hours. (Closing normally takes an hour but you should be prepared to spend extra time in case issues arise.)
- Bring along a photo ID — your driver’s license or passport, for example.
- If you haven’t done so already, make sure utilities will be turned on once you take possession of your new home.
When closing is completed:
- Don’t leave without your new keys.
- Congratulations on your new home!
Article by: Sheri Negri, Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate