Buying a home is often a lengthy process that involves many steps. It’s also time-sensitive: To finalize the purchase, you must complete everything before a specified deadline. To reach that date with everything in order and your sanity in check, it is helpful to create a checklist of what you need to do.
Before Finding Your Home
Before you even begin the process of buying a home, you can take these preliminary steps that will make your home buying experience easier.
- Find a lender and get pre-approved for credit: This should be the very first step, as it will determine how much home you can afford. You’ll need to gather all of your documentation, such as W-2s, bank statements and paycheck stubs. Your lender will help you decide what loan product works best for you.
- Find a real estate agent: Choose an agent who specializes in your target area and has an in-depth knowledge of the local market. He or she can compile listings of properties that match your criteria so you can begin your home search.
- Start looking at homes: Create a list of needs and wants. Keep these features in mind as you visit homes. Don’t lose sight of your budget or must-have items.
Once You Find a Home
When you have selected the home that you want, the real work begins. This portion of the process has several steps.
- Make an offer based on the estimated value of the home and what you qualify for in a loan.
- Find an inspector (you can ask your agent for a referral).
- Review the inspection report and decide on your next course of action.
- Have the property appraised (your lender will handle this step, but you need to be aware of what is going on).
- Choose a provider for title insurance.
Final Steps for Closing
At this point, everything should be in order for closing. However, it is important to stay in communication with your lender to make sure you are on track. You want to be aware of any potential problems early, to prevent them from becoming big issues later.
Also ask your real estate agent to keep you updated if there are any concerns or possible delays on the seller’s side. Be proactive by staying involved.
As your closing date approaches, a few more things must be taken care of before you can call this house your new home.
- Get a homeowner’s insurance policy; you will need this prior to closing.
- Do a walk-through of the property.
- Read the HUD-1 settlement statement to make sure you understand the terms and what money you must bring to closing, if any.
The final step is to sign the papers on closing day and accept the keys to your new home. Congratulations! You are now a homeowner.