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Your Home Buying Checklist

By - 2006 - 2014

When you're looking for a new home it's easy to overlook important details. There's just so much going on, so many things to do. But a good checklist can make things go more smoothly. You'll probably want to put your own list together according to your own needs, but the following are some items that will be common to most home buying lists.

___ Start preparations. What monthly payment you can afford,? How much you want to afford, given your other goals? Check your credit report. Take actions to improve your credit score. Make a list of what you need in a home, and prioritize it in case you can't get everything.

___ Choose a town and neighborhood. What are you looking for in a town or neighborhood? Use internet resources to investigate several towns, if you have a choice. Investigate the local schools. Look at newspapers online to get a "feel" for a town.

___ Get a loan pre-approval. Collect your pay stubs from the last few months. Put together any recent bank statements, tax returns, w-2 forms, and proof of other income. Go to a loan officer and ask about loan options (take notes). Get preapproved. Make copies of your pre-approval letter to submit with offers.

___ Start home shopping. Browse the listings online. Look at newspapers, real estate guides, and any other advertisements. Find a real estate agent that is active with the types of houses you are looking for, in the area you are most interested in. Consider using a buyer's agent. Explain clearly what you want. If an agent shows you homes that obviously don't fit your criteria, fire him.

___ Consider each house. Does it meet your requirements? How does it feel when walking through it? What is the neighborhood like? Ask the agent about problems the home may have. Write a description, so you'll remember the home after looking at others (or take photos). Ask many questions. Use a walk-through inspection checklist, taking notes to pass on to a professional home inspector.

___ Investigate and decide. Does the home meet your needs? Find out the appraised value, or figure the market value on your own, if you know how. Why the seller is selling? How does the house compare to others you've seen? What is the home worth to you? Ask the agent if there have been other offers. What happened with them?

___ Make an offer. Don't reveal your thoughts on possible future negotiations. Make out your earnest money check to an agency, or the real estate broker if they have an escrow account. Be clear as to what stays with the home. Specify who pays for each closing cost. Include contingencies for any inspections you'll want done.

___ Complete the process. Arrange for any inspections as soon as your offer is accepted. Quickly satisfy other contingencies in the offer. Get a loan commitment. Set a closing date. Obtain home owners insurance. Get a closing statement from the title company or closing company. Once the figures are in, get the cashier's check for the closing.

___ Start preparations for the move. Arrange for transfer of utilities to your name. Get change of address forms at the post office. Transfer any prescriptions. Get your kids registered in the new schools.

___ Pack and make final arrangements. Compare moving companies. Choose a company and set a date for the final move. Make sure the utilities are turned on at your new home and canceled at your current house.

A final item for your home buying checklist: Check out everything thoroughly when you arrive at your new home. It should be in the same condition as when you made the offer, with everything in working order.

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