Buying a House Checklist: It's Not as Difficult as You Think

If you dream of owning a home of your own but are intimidated by the home buying process, don't be! While there is a lot of paperwork and verification involved, it is not as difficult as you may think. If you work with an experienced realtor and a knowledgeable mortgage lender, the home buying process can be a breeze! 

 According to, approximately 65 percent of Americans are homeowners. Are you ready to join them? Below is a home buying checklist that will help you prepare to buy a home.

Buying a House Checklist 

☑Check Your Credit Score

The first step in preparing to buy a home is to ensure your credit score is sufficient to obtain financing from your bank. Having a good credit score means that you have proven yourself to be "creditworthy," and it may also determine your home loan percentage rate.

Having a higher credit score typically leads to a lower interest rate, which could save you money over the life of the loan. Your credit score is so crucial for buying a house that before you even begin to look at homes for sale, be sure to obtain a copy of your credit report, so you know exactly where you stand. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, requires the three nationwide credit reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.  

☑Report and Fix Credit Issues

Once you receive your credit report, read it thoroughly to check for any errors. It is common for there to be minor errors on the report, which can be corrected by contacting the reporting credit bureau directly. Errors need to be addressed before you apply for a home loan.

☑Choose a Mortgage Lender

Once you have checked your credit score, disputed any incorrect information, and decided on the price range you'd like to stay in for your home purchase, the next step is to secure a lender. Choosing an experienced mortgage lender is crucial for a stress-free home buying process and should be taken very seriously. 

A local bank is an excellent choice for a mortgage lender. They typically have great rates and experienced loan officers that can help make the process a smooth one.

Mortgage Specialists

☑ How Much Home Can You Afford?

Next, make sure you are clear on how much home you can afford. Consider your income, current debt, and other personal finances to determine how much you can comfortably afford to pay each month for housing. Your mortgage lender can help determine what your monthly mortgage payment will be, considering variables such as down payment amount, type of mortgage, interest rates, etc.

☑Obtain a Pre-Approval or Get Pre-Qualified for Your Mortgage

Your loan officer can pre-qualify you for a mortgage and let you know how much you can spend on a home, based on your credit score, income, debt, etc. 

Once your loan limit has been determined, they will give you a letter that indicates that you are qualified to purchase a home for a specific amount. This letter lets the seller know that you are ready, willing, and qualified to buy their home. It also gives you the freedom to make offers when you see homes that meet your criteria.

☑Down Payment on Your New Home

Homebuyers get the best rates when they have at least a 20% down payment on their new home. In reality, not all of us have access to that kind of cash. No worries, as this is not mandatory to receive a home mortgage, and homebuyers can typically put down less. Check with your lender to see if you may qualify for any special programs that are in place. 

☑Be Aware of Changes in Finances

Once you have decided to purchase a home, it is crucial to be aware that changes to your finances can jeopardize the approval of your home loan. Even the smallest changes can negatively affect your credit score and prevent you from closing on the purchase. 

You should not change jobs, buy a car, or apply for a new credit card when shopping for a new home or waiting to close on your mortgage. Having a credit card company or automotive dealer pull your credit score can cause your loan to be declined or require additional review. 

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☑Select a Realtor

Choosing an experienced real estate professional to assist you with your home buying purchase is essential. It not only helps to make the process easier, but it also puts someone in your corner to work and negotiate on your behalf. Realtors have access to all local homes for sale and likely have inside information about the local market, which can come in handy if you need to negotiate. 

☑New Home Preferences and Needs

We all have a wish list of what we want on our new house checklist, and we all have a list of must-haves. Decide early on and be realistic about what criteria you are willing to live without and what items are non-negotiable. 

Consider specific school districts, number of bedrooms, street location, neighborhood, a fenced yard for kids or pets, etc. It is a good idea to narrow the criteria down into three lists such as non-negotiable items, nice to have things that you can live without and extra wish-list features. Share this list with your real estate agent so that they can search for the perfect home for you.

☑Check Out Home Listings Online

The internet is a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to helping you buy a home. Use it to your advantage to browse houses for sale in your ideal areas. 

Customize your search to include the desired number of bedrooms, price, location, view, and more. Searching for homes online is such a convenient way to narrow down your house hunting and save valuable time by checking out homes for sale from the comfort of your couch!

financing cta☑Attend Frequent Open Houses

While it is convenient to look at homes for sale online to narrow down your search, it is also a good idea to visit as many open houses as you can. Attending open houses helps you get a better feel for a home when you see it in person. 

Open houses offer a convenient and stress-free way to see many homes in a short amount of time. Make a list of open houses located in neighborhoods of interest, making sure to take notes and pictures of each home so that you can discuss their features later.

☑Location, Location, Location

It truly is all about location when creating your "buying a house checklist." When you buy a home, you purchase the actual residence and the community in which the home is located. Take some time to scope out local amenities, shopping, restaurants, schools, and even the neighbors. 

Just because you love a home does not mean that the community is a good match for you. It is a good idea to visit the area at various times during the day and evening to get a good feel of what the neighborhood has to offer. 

Buying a home is an exciting adventure and not as difficult as you might think. It's just a matter of having the right team to help you get the job done. Following this "home buying checklist" can give you a head start on the home buying process and ensure you the best possible chance of finding the home of your dreams.

If you have enjoyed our buying a house checklist, be sure to review our comprehensive guide "Complete Home Buying Checklist: 10 Steps to Buying A House!"

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