Your Home Buying Checklist
Buying a home is an exciting process, but it can also be a stressful one. And with good reason of course! You’re investing your time, energy, and finances to hopefully find that perfect home. It may feel daunting, but we’re here to help! Here are some tips and things to think about when searching for your new home.
Figure Out Your Budget
1. Evaluate Your Finances
Before you begin your search, make sure all your finances are in order. There’s nothing quite as disheartening as falling in love with a house only to realize that the purchase isn’t feasible. Start with requesting your credit score. Make sure to go through all three bureaus, i.e. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Work through what they give you, looking for any potential errors.
2. Gather Documents
Save yourself time and gather all the documents you’ll need when talking to loan officers. This might include pay stubs, any significant bank statements, and your current tax returns.
3. Research Mortgages
Once you’ve gathered important documents and evaluated your finances, get ready to start researching the various options to get a home loan. Research lenders, or if you’re working with a real estate agency, ask them if they have lenders they trust or recommend. Check out the big lenders, as well as the small. From the more well known, to the lesser. The more research you conduct, the more insight you’ll gain. Learn what’s going to work for you, making sure to be looking toward your financial future. If you’ve settled on a lender, get a mortgage pre-approval letter. Having the “go-ahead” from a lender makes you a more competitive buyer overall.
Finding Your Next Home
1. Find Your Dream Neighborhood
Now that you’ve gotten past the initial stage of prepping yourself for your home search, it’s time to find a neighborhood you love. As you begin searching, make a list of important attributes your dream neighborhood might have. It’s also helpful to ask yourself some basic questions. What can you not live without? What’s the most important thing to be within a 5-mile radius from your home? How long of a commute are you willing to have? If you’re moving with others, make sure to ask for their lists as well.
As you narrow your search, there may be important factors you’ve overlooked. It’s reasonable that you’d take into account your commute, your child’s schooling, and perhaps ease of access to convenient locations. However, don’t overlook these either:
- Connectivity. Having high-speed internet and reliable cell service in your new home or neighborhood might not be the ultimatum for whether or not you make the move, but it’s something you should think about. Check out the best service providers in the area.
- Walkability. Don’t underestimate the importance of great locations within walking distance. What’s close to you in the area you’ve settled on? Can you walk, bike, or use public transportation to reach them easily?
- Noise and light. If you’ve found an area that you think you could call home in the future, it’s best to visit it once in the morning, again in the afternoon, and at least once at night. Never be thrown for a loop. You might love a neighborhood on a quiet afternoon, only to realize after a move that you’re not happy with the noise or lights levels at night. Pay close attention to any factors that might cause you to think twice about your move.
2. Build Your Shopping List
So you’ve compiled a list of neighborhoods that will work for you. What next? Now’s the time to build a “shopping list” for the potential home itself.
Try to build two separate lists. First, compile one with the features your new house must have. This will be your “must-haves or can’t live without” list. Take a few days to make sure you’ve thought of everything. Secondly, create a “dream house features or that’d be nice to have” list. This list will mostly consist of features that won’t affect your daily life, but would, of course, be “nice to have”.
Creating these two lists will help you imagine the type of home you see yourself in. They will also come in handy when working with a realtor. Being on the same page about what you can and cannot do without will save you both time and energy.
3. Find Your Agent
If you know ahead of time that you’d like to work with a real estate agent to search for a home, make sure you research them beforehand. As with all professions, certain agents are spectacular in their line of work, and others that aren’t worth working with. Make sure to read reviews, ask for opinions, and read agent profiles extensively before you make your choice. Hire a real estate agent that can skillfully find the type of home you’re looking for, or has experience in the neighborhood you’re looking in.
Once you’ve found an agent that’s right for you, don’t be afraid of open and honest communication. Remember, your agent is there to help you find your dream home. To do that, they’ll need to know your home wants and needs to do their job properly.
4. Start Your Search
Now that you’ve pinpointed what you want or do not want from your next neighborhood and home, it’s time to truly begin your search. Whether you’re working with a realtor or utilizing an online search, don’t be afraid to start broad. You might be surprised to find that what was previously on your list has changed after attending a few open houses. You can always refine your search throughout the process.
5. Be Patient
Lastly, be patient. You might find the home of your dreams after one search, or after ten. If you have the time to peruse the market, don’t settle for a home that only meets a small number of your requirements. Unless you’re open to upgrades, remodeling, or something of the like, find a home that’ll suit you as soon as you move in.
If you’re looking for your next mountain home getaway, Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties has agents and brokers with both the experience and knowledge of the Rocky Mountains to assist you in your next home or land purchase.
By Coldwell Banker