Your Home Buying Checklist
A good home buying checklist, like any good checklist, can make things go more smoothly. You will have to put your own list together according to what your own needs, but here are some items that will be common to most home buying lists.
___ Prepare. Consider not only what monthly payment you can afford, but how much you want to afford, given your other goals. Check your credit report and take actions to improve your credit score. Make a list of what you want or need in a home, and prioritize it in case you can't get everything.
___ Choose an area in which to focus your search. What do you need in a town or neighborhood? Use online resources to investigate towns. Check crime rates online. Investigate schools. Look at local newspapers online to get a "feel" for a town.
___ Get preapproved. Gather pay stubs for the last few months. Find recent bank statements, tax returns, w-2 forms, proof of other income. Ask questions about loan options (take notes). Make copies of pre-approval letter to submit with offers.
___ Start home shopping. Browse online listings. Look in newspapers, and real estate guides. Find a real estate agent that is active in the area you are interested in, and with the types of houses you are looking for. Consider a buyer's agent. Explain clearly what you are looking for. If the agent shows you homes that clearly don't fit your criteria, fire him. Take notes on homes you see.
___ Look at the homes. Does the home meet your requirements? How does it feel when you walk through it? Look at the neighborhood. Ask the agent about any problems the home may have. Take a photo, or write a description, so you'll remember the home after looking at others. Ask a lot of questions. Use a home inspection checklist, taking notes to pass on to a professional home inspector.
___ Make a decision. Does the home work for you? Find out the appraised value if possible. Find out why the seller is selling. How does the home compare to others you have seen? What is the home worth to you, based on what you know of values at this point? Ask the agent if there have been other offers, and what happened with them.
___ Make an offer. Have the agent help, but don't reveal your thoughts on possible negotiations. Write your earnest money check to an agency, or the real estate broker if they have an escrow account. Be clear in the offer as to what stays with the home. Specify who will pay for each closing cost. Include contingencies for any necessary inspections.
___ Complete the purchase. Arrange inspections as soon as the offer is accepted. Satisfy any other contingencies in the offer. Get a loan commitment from a lender. Get a firm closing date. Buy home owners insurance. Get a closing statement. Obtain the cashiers check for the closing.
___ Prepare for the move. Once closing is certain, arrange for transfer of utilities to your name. Mail change of address forms to post office. Start packing. Hire a mover. Transfer prescriptions. Get kids registered in new schools.
As a final item on your home buying checklist, check out everything thoroughly when you arrive at your new home. It should be in the same (or better) condition as when you made the offer.
About the Author: Copyright Steve Gillman. See a photo of the house we bought for ,500 (home page), get a Home Inspection Checklist, and more, at: http://www.HousesUnderFiftyThousand.com