Buying A Home Checklist
Whether you are a first-time home buyer or someone who has purchased a home before, it can be a complicated process.
Here’s a checklist to help you stay organized and prepare for the entirety of the home buying process. Want even more information? Read our home buying guide or simply contact us to connect with a real estate agent!
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Figure out your budget and down payment.
What can you truly afford? Knowing your ideal range and absolute maximums not only keep you in a healthy financial state, but also help your real estate agent know your boundaries.
Use an online mortgage calculator, such as one from NerdWallet, and play with the numbers a bit to see what monthly payment you can afford and how much house that will get you.
Nail down your requirements.
Square footage, number of bedrooms, design choices, potential commutes (school, work, etc.), yard size … you know what’s important to you!
List out your must-haves and nice-to-haves, and be honest with yourself. If four bedrooms is a non-negotiable, knowing this upfront is very helpful.
But what about 2 1/2 vs. 3 baths? You may discover you only need two, and anything more is a bonus.
This is a framework, but guides your realtor to a better start on your home search.
Research loan options and get pre-approved
Speaking with multiple mortgage loan offices is always recommended. They’ll be working with you on some of the most important (and sometimes stressful) documentation, so you want someone you like working with.
Understanding your loan options (Conventional? Adjustable rate? Something else?) is also vital. Do some research on the types available to you, and bring those questions to your mortgage lender of choice.
Then, make sure to get pre-approved. This involves your lender going through your financial history, including W2s, to determine what you can afford.
Note you can get pre-qualified (which is less intrusive and time intensive) at this stage, but some sellers prefer offers with an attached letter of pre-approval. In short, pre-approval helps your offer be more attractive.
No matter what, your mortgage lender is a vital partner in this process. Picking the right one is crucial! If you aren’t sure where to start, we can help with that – just ask.
Meet with local real estate agents
Online reviews can be helpful for getting an initial list of agents to contact. A phone call can be a great way to interview a few and determine who you might work best with.
You can ask them questions such as why they love helping buyers, the last home they helped someone purchase, and where things have gone wrong with a client before.
Once you’ve picked a favorite, let them know and they can get to work sending you homes for sale to view and visit!
We have Augusta, Ga agents and Amelia Island agents who work in the surrounding areas as well – even across their state. We hope you’ll interview some of ours as part of your process!
Explore homes for sale
Your agent is your guide, setting up showings and helping you look through each home. They can also provide expert commentary on the surrounding market, what stands out in a given home as good or bad, and help you work through what you’re thinking and feeling.
You can also send along specific homes you find to see if showings are available.
Sometimes it only takes a few days to find the right home, but it can take many weeks. Adjust your schedule accordingly so you have the flexibility to find the right home for you!
Make the offer
Once you’ve found a favorite, your agent will talk through any liens or restrictions with the property. They’ll help you craft the right offer, and you may need to have your mortgage lender provide an updated letter of pre-approval (for a specific amount) as well.
Some other items as part of the offer can include inspection, contingency, and/or damage liquidation clauses and any special requests. For instance, maybe you want the seller to leave a playground in the backyard or a specific item – this is where special requests can come into play as part of the offer.
Earnest money and due diligence
If your offer is accepted (hooray!), you’ll need to provide earnest money. This is a deposit on the property you’re hoping to buy and protects the seller.
During due diligence, an agent keeps your earnest money while you have the home inspected and ask any remaining questions. This allows you to make a final decision on whether you want to go forward with buying the home or not.
If you decide to back out of buying the home during the due diligence period, you get the earnest money back. However, if you back out after the period has ended, the seller keeps your money.
If you decide to move forward, congratulations! It’s time to purchase the home and get other items in place.
An important step! Make sure your insurance agent knows what you’re up to and has the address of the new home you’re hoping to purchase. They’ll provide a quote and information for closing on the house that’s required.
Get final numbers
Monthly costs, mortgage interest rates, taxes, and more now have to be calculated. In addition, closing costs and the initial house down payment (minus earnest money) will be due, so budget accordingly.
Your lender and agent know these processes well, so lean on them both with any questions.
Buy the home
It’s under contract, but you still haven’t bought it yet! Final paperwork has to be completed, including any mortgage paperwork/approvals.
You’ll also set a move-in date so the seller knows when they have to be out of the house.
Once everything is in place, you’ll close on the home by signing paperwork through an approved attorney (real estate agents typically know who’s best to work with).
Congratulations, know it’s time to move in and start a new, exciting chapter!
If any of this sounds daunting, or you’re looking for an agent to help buy or sell, please reach out and we’ll be happy to help.