So you’re thinking of buying a new home? Before you begin searching for your new home, make a list of all of the things that are important to you, both in your home and in the location of your home. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? How big of a garage? How many closets? Then consider the location. How long will your commute be? What are the schools like in the area?

Then take a deep breath and consider which things are absolute necessities and which things could you live without. In other words, if you could find everything else that you want in a house, but it doesn’t have an indoor basketball court, is that a deal breaker? Now, be prepared to spell this out to your favorite real estate agent and get feedback on whether your expectations meet your budget. Now you’re ready to begin.

Buyers Checklist

  1. Sign paperwork with your favorite real estate agent. Make sure you discuss your needs and that your agent fully understands what type of home will best suit you.
  2. Find a lender and become pre-approved for a mortgage. Maybe your favorite real estate agent can recommend a lender? Or maybe you already have a lender who you’ve worked with in the past. Your lender will help you determine the maximum amount you can afford to borrow and how much your monthly payments will be. Depending on your personal situation, you may or may not want to borrow all that you qualify to borrow. Consider your personal situation carefully and then be prepared to discuss your limitations.
  3. Begin searching for your new home. Sometimes it helps to follow that market for awhile on the internet. You’ll start to see patterns of homes that sell quickly and others that seem to linger. Keep track of where you’ve been and which homes measure up to your expectation. Keep careful track and take notes on which homes you’ve viewed and why they would or wouldn’t work for you. If you’re organized, you will be able to more easily make decisions about which houses fit your needs and how they compare with each other. As you are looking at homes, your Realtor will be researching prices and comparable homes to ensure that you’re viewing homes that are valued with the market. Ask your Realtor to run a net sheet for you so that you’ll have a close estimate of what closing costs will likely be for the homes you’re looking at.
  4. After finding the perfect home for you, submit an offer through your agent for the seller to review and then take a deep breath and try to relax while you wait to hear back. Your offer will most likely include a pre-qualification letter from your lender and a copy of an earnest money check. Depending on how the overall market is doing, you can often expect a process of counter-offers and negotiation before settling on a final purchase price. Once your offer is accepted you’ll need to quickly give your Realtor the earnest money check which will be held by a third party until the transaction closes or otherwise ends.
  5. At this point, you will start the process of filling out endless amounts of paperwork for your lender. We joke that it’s like a scavenger hunt where the lenders are competing to see how many rocks you’ll turn over while searching for obscure pieces of information ie.. find and send the receipt for your Biology textbook from your sophomore year in college, what brand of windshield wipers are on your car, how much did you pay for your living room lamps, what size shoes does your Uncle Ben wear? You’ll continue to send answers and paperwork to your lender until right up to closing, so try to have good humor and know that it’s just part of the process.
  6. Get a home inspection. Get a home inspection. Get a home inspection! It is well worth your $250-400 investment to get a home inspection to ensure the condition and structural soundness of your investment. Nightmares happen when people find out after moving in that there are unexpected repairs or damage to their dream home, and there is often little recourse.
  7. Close on your home. Bring a cashier’s check for the amount of money (if any) that you need to bring to closing. Move in! Take another deep breath and start unpacking…