The Home Buying Experience

Real Estate Survival Guide: Buyer’s Checklist

Refer to this handy list to get you through the buying process.

1. Figure out how much house you can afford.

  • Calculate your monthly income and debt.
  • Check your credit report and FICO score.
  • Prepare to put down an earnest money deposit for your purchase.
  • Set aside cash for the closing costs and down payment.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

  • Choose a type of mortgage; Conventional, FHA, VA, RD
  • Speak to several lenders and mortgage brokers.
  • Shop for the best interest rates and programs.

3. Determine what you want and need in a home.

  • Choose a location (downtown, urbansuburban, or rural).
  • Choose a type (single-family, townhouse, or condo).
  • Choose a price range.
  • Choose a size (how many bedrooms & baths).
  • Choose an architectural style.

4. Search for homes in the MLS.

  • Ask your agent to set up tours of homes that fit your criteria.
  • Have them add you to an auto-email search.
  • Pick up flyers and attend open houses.

5. Research each home you want to buy.

  • Ask your agent for comparables to estimate the property’s current market value.
  • Ask the seller’s reason for selling.
  • Review all property disclosures.
  • Find out about liens, easements or other restrictions.
  • Find out about associations and dues.
  • Review taxes and utility information.

6. Make an offer and negotiate.

  • Determine the purchase price.
  • Include contingencies, such as financial & inspection.
  • Spell out any special requests (furnishings) and repairs you want included in the sale.
  • Determine an earnest money amount; about 1% of the purchase price
  • Define a move-in date.

7. Finalize the deal.

  • Get a licensed professional home inspection.
  • Get the house appraised (your lender will facilitate this).
  • Consider getting specific inspections for structural engineering, roof, mold, well, and septic.
  • Use the appraisal and inspection reports to re-negotiate if necessary.
  • Choose a home insurance company.
  • Complete the loan process with the lender.
  • Do a walk-through inspection prior to closing.

8. Close the purchase.

  • Review the settlement document at least 10 days before closing to see how funds will be collected and distributed.
  • Get a cashier’s check or wiring instructions for the amount you need to bring to closing, including the down payment and closing costs.
  • Close the sale and move in!
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