12-Point Checklist to Follow Before Buying Your New Home

Gregg Fletcher


Buying a home isn't like running out to the mall to select a new dress or suit. For one thing, it costs a lot more money, and it's going to affect your life for many years to come. This makes it essential that you make all the right moves before buying your new home.

From hiring Gregg Fletcher, a realtor, to knowing exactly how much money you can spend, you need to be ready to buy a home and ensure you don't forget any important steps or information. It's easy to get excited when you're shopping for a home, but you need to remain focused on buying your home.

This 12-point checklist to follow before buying your new home can help you remain on task and end up in a beautiful new house:

Lockdown an interest rate and pre-approval for a mortgage

While you have a good idea of how much house you can afford, you need to lock down your interest rate and get pre-approved for a mortgage. This first step is essential, and you can use your pre-approval status to help when making an offer and choosing properties to tour.

You do need to understand that pre-approved isn't the final approval, and you'll need to circle back to your financing later in the process. In some cases, a real estate agent won't show you homes until you're pre-approved because you want to know when you make an offer you'll be able to buy the home.

Determine your budget

Once you know how much you can mortgage on a home, it's time to set your budget. This includes the amount of the mortgage and any money you have for a down payment or excess from the sale of your last home. You might even have some cash reserves you might be tempted to use.

This is the time to set your budget. Once you set the budget, don't be tempted to exceed it. You might think you can afford more money on a house if you stop eating out or make other sacrifices, but 30 years is a long time.

Generate a list of must-haves and would-likes

The perfect home is a pleasant dream but seldom a reality. You might find a home that has everything on your list except it's short one bathroom, or the kitchen doesn't have the right layout. It's always beneficial before you look at the first home online or in-person to make two lists.

The first includes things you must have in the home, such as the minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a deck, a garage, a separate dining room, or whatever is a deal-breaker for you. The second list is things you'd like in a home, but you're more flexible on.

Choose a real estate agent

Your choice of a real estate agent can make the home buying process a breeze or a stressful adventure. It's a good idea to talk to a few before making your final decision. You want to work with an agent who listens to your wants and needs and then finds homes with the most potential to show you.

You also want to ensure you choose an agent who understands the local real estate market and has a network in place to find the home you want. Negotiating skills are also essential in the right agent, so you get the best deal possible.

Scout out neighborhoods

If you have children, you might start by looking at area schools to determine the best fit. Your daily commute to work can also play a part in selecting the best neighborhood. Do you want to be close to the shops and restaurants? Or a little further away?

You can drive through local neighborhoods in the evening to get a feel of the vibe of each of them. As you scout the area, make notes of any neighborhoods that appeal to you.

View homes

Armed with your two lists, a budget, and a few neighborhoods you favor, it's time to start looking at houses. House hunting can quickly become a blur of bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. You might consider carrying a notebook with you and jotting down a few notes about the last house before stopping at the next one.

You can give your overall impressions and make note of anything unique. You want a way to trigger your memory when it's time to make a decision. It's possible to revisit homes, but this might require scheduling the showing with the homeowner.

Make an offer

Once you've narrowed the possibilities down to one, it's time to make an offer. The offer includes the price you're willing to pay, who pays the closing costs, the date the sale closes, and other pertinent information. Make sure you read the offer before you hand over an earnest money check and sign.

There might be some back and forth as you and the seller negotiate the price and terms. Your real estate agent's skills at negotiating play an important role at this point. Finally, there will come a time when you have an accepted offer, but you aren't a homeowner yet.

Pay attention to deadlines

Between an accepted offer and the closing date, you'll face a series of deadlines. Your mortgage company will require certain documents and statements for the underwriters to complete your financing. There will be a deadline to supply this information to the financing company, so your mortgage is ready by the closing date.

The inspection, appraisal, and insurance will need to be done by a certain date. You can't miss any of these deadlines because if you do, it might throw the sale of the home into disarray, and you might lose out on the house you want.

Arrange for a home inspection, appraisal, and insurance

You will need to arrange to have the home inspected to ensure there isn't hidden damage or issues. Your real estate agent probably has a firm they work with and can provide you with the contact info. You'll also need an appraisal on the home for your mortgage broker.

It's essential during this time that you choose and purchase a homeowner's insurance policy so it's in place on the day you close. There will probably be deadlines for completing these tasks, so make sure you don't miss any and place the sale of the home in jeopardy.

Renegotiate the offer

Sometimes, the home inspection turns up serious issues that need to be addressed before the home closes. You and the seller can renegotiate the offer. This might be a lower price to offset the expense of the repairs, or it might require the seller to make certain repairs ahead of the closing date. For example, if the roof needs to be replaced immediately, the seller might opt to knock $3,000 off the purchase price instead of replacing it themselves. You and the seller can get creative and make whatever compromises work for both of you.

Get ready to close on your new home

As the closing date draws near, it's time to take care of some loose ends. A day or two before the closing, you'll need to do another walk-through of the home. This is to ensure that there hasn't been any damage to the property since you offered to buy it.

This is the time to go ahead and open the utility accounts. In many cases, it's a simple matter of switching the existing service into your name on the closing date. You'll also need to go ahead and submit a change of address form to the post office and start notifying important companies, such as your bank.

Be prepared for and close on the home

It's here! The day of your closing is a busy one. You'll need to take everything you need with you, such as your ID. You might need to bring your check from the bank. Both you and the seller, along with your real estate agents, will meet at an attorney's office to sign all the paperwork.

Expect this process to take around two hours. You might need to make arrangements for your children during this time. This is also your last chance to ask the seller any questions you might have about the home or the property.

Find the partner you deserve on your home buying journey

Whether it's your first time buying a home or your 10th time, it's always better to find a real estate agent that feels like a friend and partner in the process. There's a lot of room for error and missteps, and your real estate agent can help you stay on course and end up in the home of your dreams.

Gregg Fletcher & Associates is the right group for the job. From your first phone call to the day you get your keys, Gegg works for you, finding properties that meet your specifications and negotiating the deal. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.

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Gregg’s extensive market contacts and rich local knowledge help ensure consistently successful transactions. His clients, many of whom are celebrities, business leaders, notable personalities, and local families, benefit from his strict adherence to confidentiality and professionalism.

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