This first home checklist post is sponsored by Homes.com; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
As a Realtor and a busy mom who just purchased a new home, I can attest that purchasing a home can be a daunting task. There are so many elements to consider and so many things to do. It can easily be overwhelming if you don’t have the right support or resources at your fingertips. However, it can be a fun, exciting experience that can bring great enjoyment when you move in your first home. I’m hoping I can make things easier for you by sharing my ultimate first home checklist!
Before you can start the process of shopping for a new home, you need to determine the must-have things you are looking for and the things that would be nice but you can overlook if needed. Before meeting with a Realtor, make a list of the features you are most interested in, including how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and the amount of living space you need. For us, we knew we needed a large backyard and a playroom for the kids to have room to grow and be able to play together, so those two things were non-negotiable for us.
Gather important documents such as your tax records and check stubs which your loan officer will need in order to assess your income to debt ratio.
Save for down payment. Depending on which loan you are seeking, you might need 10-20% as a down payment. In addition, you will have closing costs, insurance and tax fees due at closing. Your Realtor can help get you a closing statement in advance, but you’ll want to be prepared to cover these costs.
Remove any unnecessary debt. As your loan officer is assessing your debt to income ratio, any outstanding debt like student loans, credit cards balances, or car notes will be noted. If you can pay off any of these debts in advance it will benefit you when purchasing a home.
A resource I love using is Homes.com can help you on your journey to homeownership from start to finish. Their “How To” section breaks down everything you need to know about being a homeowner in an easy format.
As I mentioned above, you will want to discuss your financial status with a loan officer. If you do not have a loan officer, you can ask your Realtor for recommendations. Your loan officer will need tax documents as well as a check stub and potentially more detailed information about your income over the past year. This information will help determine your budget for your house and will provide you with the costs per month. Your loan officer can then provide you with a letter stating that you are pre-approved for the purchase price, which many Real Estate companies and sellers are now requiring before accepting an offer.
SET YOUR BUDGET
When setting your budget, you want to consider costs associated with neighborhood memberships or pools, upkeep, and maintenance throughout the year. We asked for a list of average utility costs to help us determine monthly expenses.
CHOOSING YOUR REALTOR
Homes.com can help connect you with a real estate professional in your area who can help you assess the amount of house you can afford. One of the first questions I ask my real estate clients is about their budget range, and then we discuss the square footage and room needs. When choosing a Realtor, you want to ask what services their office provides, and when they are typically available to show houses. Ask about their experience and credentials. Take a look at their current listings to see how they handled the description, photos, and other details. You can ask to get permission to speak with a former client. Show your Realtor some of your favorite homes you’ve pinned to Pinterest so he or she can get an idea on what you are looking for!
SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT HOME
Homes.com is such a great resource for finding the perfect home. Their Snap & Search feature can help find that dream house that you have been pinning! All you have to do is take a photo or upload a photo to the website and it will provide you with an array of homes in the same architectural style to choose from AND in your preferred location. How cool is that?
Homes.com Match is such a great tool! You simply let them know what matters most, and they will help you compare your “must-haves” against what’s “nice-to-have” and giving personalized scores for every home in your results – rather than the daunting scroll, filter, scroll process. This not only saves time but will help you narrow down the homes you want to see!
MAKING AN OFFER
Your Realtor can provide you with a list of comparable properties so you can see what houses are listing for initially and selling for, including how many days the home has been on the market!! There are many factors when considering an offer. You don’t want your offer to be so low it’s offensive, so a great rule of thumb is to craft your offer based on the comparables and then add or subtract depending on the condition of the home. A home is supposed to be in good working order when sold, so you can adjust if there are necessary repairs or updates, and add to the comparable number if they have extra features, amenities, or updates. You want the offer to be good enough for sellers to either accept or want to negotiate, but cover your costs for any repairs or other expenses associated with purchasing the home.
I hope this first home checklist provides a good start to the process of buying a home. Check out my tips for moving a house and don’t forget to save this for later!