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, urban, suburban, 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!