Buyer's Checklist

Buyer's Checklist

Buying a home is difficult and complex. It requires careful consideration of points beyond just location and budget. Following a comprehensive buyer's checklist is essential to ensure a smooth and well-informed home-buying process. Here's our 9-point checklist for home buyers. By following this comprehensive buyer's checklist, you can make informed decisions throughout the home-buying process and increase the likelihood of a successful and satisfying home purchase.

Define Your Budget

Knowing your budget is vital to buying the right house. Everything depends on your budget. Before diving into the home-buying process, clearly define your budget. Consider the purchase price and additional costs such as property taxes, insurance, and potential maintenance expenses. Also, consider how much you can put down, knowing that anything less than 20% requires buying costly mortgage insurance. Many online calculators like this can make this process easier ( With your estimated month-to-month payments, prequalify for a mortgage to understand your borrowing capacity. Being prequalified for a home in your price range gives you an advantage in negotiations.

Location, Location, Location

Getting you in the location of your dreams is where your real estate agent shines. They can help you evaluate potential neighborhoods based on your preferences and needs, like proximity to work, schools, public transportation, amenities, and shopping. They can also help you find that "diamond-in-the-rough" location that will only grow in value. Thinking about future home value is very important when considering property prices. Your agent can help you research what local market trends can impact the long-term value of a property. A nearby zoning change can devastate your home value. However, it can also give you better bargaining power in negotiating the price of your potential home.

Type of Property

Decide on the type of property that suits your lifestyle. Choices include single-family homes, condos, townhouses, or apartments. Each option has advantages and drawbacks, so align your choice with your preferences and plans. Consider your first choice in property types, along with a backup option. If affordable single-family homes are unavailable in your desired area, consider a condo or townhouse with growth potential. Letting your agent know your priorities helps your agent keep you in your desired location.

Size and Layout

Assess the size and layout of the home. Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the overall floor plan. Ensure the property meets your current needs and has the potential to accommodate any future changes, such as a growing family or working from home. You should also consider if you have the funds, skills, or time to update your property. It's possible that you can change a less-than-ideal house into an ideal home if you can make some home improvements.

Condition of the Property

Conduct a thorough inspection of the property. Look for any signs of damage or needed repairs. Hire a qualified home inspector to assess the property's structural integrity, plumbing, electrical systems, and overall condition. Finding a quality home inspector is again where your agent shines. They already have solid relationships with qualified home inspectors who know their craft. Getting a lousy inspector costs you well into the future. Work with your real estate agent to find the home inspector who knows your specific type of property.

Legal Considerations

Your agent can also connect you to the right lawyer for your home deal. Through your lawyer, verify the legal status of the property and make sure there are no liens, encumbrances, or legal disputes associated with the property. Have them review property records and zoning regulations to understand any restrictions that might affect your intended use of the property. Also, if your property is part of a homeowner's association, read the bylaws before entering negotiations. Understand how the association may impact your lifestyle and finances. Ensure you are comfortable with the rules and any ongoing obligations. Your agent and your lawyer can both help you understand your HOA rules.

Negotiate the Purchase Price

Always make a point of negotiating with the seller to arrive at a fair purchase price. Your agent will consider market conditions, comparable sales in the area, and any necessary repairs or improvements. Listen and be prepared to counteroffer and reach a mutually beneficial agreement. And, if the deal isn't right, be prepared to walk away. However, leverage your agent's knowledge of the selling process. Know the deadlines for when walking away from a deal means facing significant fees, a loss of your earnest money, or legal issues.

Financing Options and Costs

Once you agree on a price, ensure your deal is contingent on bank financing. Even if you're prequalified for a loan, financing options can change quickly. Mortgage terms you thought you had two months ago may have changed. Explore mortgage options and choose the one that best suits your financial situation. Understand the terms, interest rates, and potential future adjustments. When finalizing financing, ensure you fully understand the closing and insurance costs. These costs can include fees for legal services, title insurance, and property taxes. Factor these costs into your budget to avoid any last-minute financial surprises.

Final Walkthrough

Before closing, conduct a final walkthrough to ensure the property is in the agreed-upon condition. Confirm that any repairs or improvements negotiated with the seller have been completed to your satisfaction. Ensure that appliances you thought were included in the final sale are still on the property. After closing, it will be difficult (or impossible) to renegotiate the home price to reflect missing appliances.