As a first time home buyer, you quickly learn there are many options available to you. To help reduce the overwhelming excitement and help stay on track, create a house hunting checklist. You’ll be glad you did.
Below are some checklist ideas from experience.
1. Gather Your Financials
Before you even start researching anything that will require a loan, you must check your credit. All financial institutes will check your credit score and income to debt ratio. It’s best to start this as soon as possible so you have time to fix any problems. There are various free credit report website available to do this.
Have bank and retirement account information, pay stubs and debt accounts ready. This is part of calculating your debt to income ratio.
2. Research Mortgage Rates
Ask for lender referrals from friends and family. This would be the trustworthiest information due to their experience. But at the same time, do your own research. It’s best to research a handful of lenders, which may seem a lot, but you’ll feel better knowing you reduced the possibility of missing better lending opportunities.
Calculate your down payment. Lending restrictions have eased up a bit since the subprime mortgage crisis, but it’s still difficult to get similar loans that were available pre-crisis. Expect a required down payment.
Get quotes from 3 different lenders to compare.
3. Create a Shopping List
As you view more homes, you get to see many upgrades, which increase the home cost. You will need to decide if that upgrade kitchen with top of the line appliances is worth busting your budget. This is where a shopping list comes in handy.
Take some time to create a list of must-haves/needs, wants, and “would be awesome to have” features. For example, a large, open kitchen could be considered as a must, but upgrade appliances could a want.
Budget Idea: consider features that you may not want now, but are easy to change later. Example, kitchen cabinets would be difficult and expensive to change later, while countertops and appliances would be easier.
4. Research/Get an Agent
Do research on several real estate agents. Be sure to choose one that has your best interests in mind, not theirs. Choosing the right real estate agent is important. Consider agents with experience in home types you are considering. If you are reading this, then you are considering a new build home. You can also use one of our real estate agents who as experience with our homes.
5. Start Touring Homes
Visit several home developments and models. Take notes, photos, or video the home and document the pros and cons. In some cases, revisit the community and home a few times, at different hours of the day and weekends and weekdays.
Idea: visit a community during the day and night, on the weekend and weekdays to get an idea how the community really lives. You will find a community more active during the evening after work and weekends.
6. Make an Offer
Once you narrow your decision to your future home, make an offer. However, an offer on an existing home will be easier than on a newly built home. But don’t let this discourage you from buying the new home. You have a better chance of increased equity and value on new over existing.