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We prepared this list to help make you comfortable with the home buying process. After all, this is an exciting time in your life, and we want to help you enjoy it. Read through the checklist, then call a mortgage professional for more information. Of course, purchase transactions can vary, but this “typical” list should help jumpstart your thinking.
- Be sure you’re ready to buy a home
- Determine how much you can afford
- Organize your personal information
- Get pre-approved
- Find a real estate agent
- Search for a home
- Research areas and neighborhoods of interest
- Visit selected homes
- Make an offer on the home you want
- Arrange financing
- Schedule a home inspection
- Prepare for closing
Be sure you’re ready to buy a home
- Consider all costs involved, including taxes, homeowner’s insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and utilities.
- Consider the responsibilities of home ownership, from mowing the lawn to maintaining the roof.
Determine how much you can afford
- Consider all costs involved, including upfront costs such as the down payment and closing costs.
- Estimate the monthly mortgage payment.
- Include in your estimates other costs such as taxes and maintenance, as well as insurance and any applicable association fees.
- Tip: Use the mortgage calculator found under each home listing on this site to run the numbers.
Organize your personal information
- Check your credit report to make sure that there are no errors.
- Gather documents such as financial statements and tax forms.
- Make sure to have the following information readily available: the name, address, and Social Security number of all applicants; contact information for your current landlord or mortgage company; a pay stub and employer information; the value of your assets; and the source of your down payment and closing costs.
- Make sure that you have the Social Security numbers of all borrowers involved.
- A pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford, give you the power to negotiate and even make an offer, and show sellers that you’re a qualified buyer.
Find a real estate agent
- Consider special, personal needs with which a real estate professional may be able to help you. Real estate agents can specialize in a variety of areas, including, employee relocation, military markets, or vacation homes.
- Go to Find an Agent to begin a search for an agent who specializes in your areas of interest and who suits your needs.
Search for a home
- Search for properties online to get an idea of the homes that are available in your price range.
- Drive through areas that interest you in order to spot “For Sale” signs and to get a feel for different neighborhoods.
Research areas and neighborhoods of interest
- Try visiting your preferred neighborhoods at different times of the day and at different days of the week to observe patterns of noise and traffic.
- Use our Look tool to find statistics on neighborhoods, schools, and other demographic information important in your search for a home. Your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate agent may also have some of the information you need.
Visit selected homes
- Take your time. Carefully examine both the interior and exterior of each home you consider. You may want to visit more than once if you’re seriously interested.
- Compare the prices of similar homes in the surrounding area. Your real estate agent will supply you with comparable properties (“comps”).
- Tip: If the market is competitive, be prepared to act fast. A pre-approval will give you the ability to make an offer on the home you want and shows the seller you’re financially able to buy the home — and that can give you an advantage over other buyers.
Make an offer on the home you want
- Before deciding on the amount of your offer, consider important factors such as the condition of the home, the competitiveness of the local marketplace, inspections, time restrictions and more.
- Consult with your real estate agent for professional input on determining the amount of your offer.
- Include in your offer provisions for a home inspection and an outline of the actions to be taken if problems arise.
- Tip: Always check with your real estate agent before making an offer — it may be legally binding. Working with a licensed Real Estate agent may be beneficial and make the process smoother.
- Call your mortgage consultant with the property address.
- Your mortgage consultant will explain your options for rates, terms, points and other details about loan programs you may qualify for.
- Sign the necessary documents for application.
Schedule a home inspection
- Ask your real estate agent to help you find a reputable, professional home inspector, and to help schedule the inspection.
- Tip: It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection. It’s an ideal opportunity to ask important questions about the property.
Prepare for closing
- Make sure your closing date is scheduled prior to any rate lock expirations on your mortgage loan.
- If you’re also selling a home and need the cash from the sale, make sure that the closing on your current property is scheduled prior to the closing on your new home.
- Arrange for your real estate agent or an attorney to be present. That will help assure that all closing tasks are completed to your satisfaction.
- Check with your closing agent to find out the amount of certified funds — a cashier’s check or money order — needed for closing.
- Make arrangements for all people needed to sign closing documents to be present. This may include your spouse or any other co-signer.
- Make arrangements at work and with childcare to be absent for 3-4 hours. (Closing normally takes an hour but you should be prepared to spend extra time in case issues arise.)
- Bring along a photo ID — your driver’s license or passport, for example.
- If you haven’t done so already, make sure utilities will be turned on once you take possession of your new home.
When closing is completed:
- Don’t leave without your new keys.
- Congratulations on your new home!