Home Buying Checklist
A first-time home buyer checklist is a valuable tool that will help you to focus on the most critical tasks during the home buying process. Buying a house with a checklist can help you contact the right professionals early and avoid common mistakes made by many first-time home buyers. If you would like to learn the most critical steps to buy a house for the first time from a company who’s been in business since 1995, below is our detailed home buying checklist:
1. Choose Your Real Estate AgentIf you’re buying a home for the first time, we highly suggest you consult a real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise are extremely valuable. Your agent will help you through various aspects of the home buying process, including:
- Getting prequalified for a mortgage loan with preferred lenders
- Determining a fair purchase price for the homes your considering
- Looking at the right type of home that fits your needs and budget
- Finding the most suitable location with the potential for increasing value
2. Find a Suitable Mortgage LenderYou should be able to obtain a referral to a good lender from your real estate agent. Your agent will be able to tell you how well various lenders perform. Bear in mind that there are different types of lenders and that, depending on your credit score, your bank may not always be the best place to get a loan. Making a good choice can save you thousands of dollars over the term of the loan. While shopping for a loan, be sure to:
- Obtain your free credit report from a reputable credit reporting agency online – www.annualcreditreport.com
- Study the terms of each lender with your agent and/or accountant
- Choose a lender that offers low closing fees in addition to a relatively low interest rate
- Ask for a Loan Estimate to compare lenders
3. Review Your Finances In-DepthOnce you’ve chosen your lender, they’ll monitor your account. If they discover large amounts of funds have been disbursed from or have come into your account from questionable sources, it may cause you to lose their approval. Preferably, you should have the required down payment in your account and leave it there until closing. Other steps to take include the following:
- Don’t just get pre-qualified — get a loan pre-approval.
- Maintain your cash reserves, and avoid large credit purchases.
- Avoid any financial purchases or transactions that could affect your credit score which could cause your lender to reject your loan.
4. Find the Perfect Location and HomeThe kind of neighborhood you choose can make a big difference when it comes to your lifestyle, your family’s happiness and the equity the property could provide for your future. Find out all you can from your real estate agent about:
- Potential for an increase in the home’s value
- The safety and rate of burglary in the town
- The distance between the neighborhood and the closest bus stops, train stations, shopping malls and hospitals
- The school district, including its quality and ratings online
- Look out for noise, nightlife, traffic and any unruly neighbors.
- Beware of areas with poor drainage, which are liable to flooding.
- Avoid foreclosures and homes sold at rock bottom prices – unless you’re looking for a project.
- Ask your agent to send you new listings via email in the areas you’re considering – this is how you’ll find the most accurate and newest listings.
- Search popular online real estate websites for homes – however, you’ll find that the results aren’t always up-to-date online.
5. Make an OfferTo avoid being rejected by various sellers or losing the home you really want, follow these steps:
- Make an offer to the seller within 24 hours upon finding a home that you would like to buy.
- Listen to the advice of your agent when making your offer, especially for homes with high competition.
- Follow local real estate trends so that you aren’t going against the grain – most sellers don’t like complicated offers that vary from the norm.
6. Prepare in Advance for a Successful Closing ExperienceThe best way to have a smooth and hassle-free closing experience is to work with a title company like Title Partners of South Florida. We’ll help you handle all aspects of the closing process, including:
- Running a title search and examining the title for judgments, liens, encumbrances, etc.
- Issuing you title insurance to protect your investment and ownership in the property
- Providing escrow for the earnest money deposit, all your home closing costs and disbursement of the seller’s proceeds
- Coordinating the closing day and time, as well as the signing of all applicable documents with the buyer and seller
- Providing a professional, engaging and memorable closing experience – not just signing papers