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Ready to Buy? Home Buying Checklist

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Congratulations! You found your home! Keep these tips in mind and breeze through the home buying process:

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Ask for referrals: Ask friends, family, your real estate agent, or loan officer for recommendations for lenders.

Calculate your down payment: Can you pay at least 20 percent of the purchase price before closing costs? Investigate mortgage options to pay a lesser down payment.

Obtain quotes from a few lenders: Consult with both mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers to get the best interest rate.

Decide if you want to pay points to lower your rate: Sometimes a bank will let you pay upfront to lower your interest rate, but it can get expensive.

Make an Offer and Negotiate the Close

Bid smart: Ask your real estate agent for prices of comparable homes in the area that have recently sold, and use those figures to determine your initial offer.

Make clear demands: Be up-front about extras, such as curtains or light fixtures, that you want included with the house.

Use the closing date as a negotiating point: If you don’t have to move by a certain date be flexible on when you move into your new home. You might be able to get other concessions from the sellers.

Ask the seller to buy a home warranty: A good one will cost about $400 and can cover the cost of any major repairs for a year after closing.

Get a Home Inspection

Find a qualified inspector: Contact one of the professional organizations to find an accredited, self-employed expert who has performed at least 1,000 inspections. Expect to pay about $300 to $750 for a general inspection.

Consider additional assessments: Ask your real estate agent if they recommend additional inspections above and beyond the standard one. This will depend on the style of the house and when it was built.

Attend the inspection: This is your opportunity to ask questions about the infrastructure of the house. Be sure to learn about the operation and locations of the gas and water shut-off valves and the breaker box.

Get Ready for Closing

Consider hiring an attorney: Lawyers aren’t always necessary for residential purchases, but if your situation is complicated or if you’re buying a foreclosure, it’s a good idea to hire one.

Lock in your interest rate: Do so 30 to 45 days before your close. Rates aren’t expected to rise significantly for at least the next year and a half.

Obtain a detailed list of closing costs from your lender: Besides the expense tied to your loan, you may have additional fees, such as title services and transfer taxes.

Next Buyers and Sellers can Both Survive the Home Inspection
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