7-Point Checklist to Follow Before Buying Your New Home

Emilie Cole  |  August 9, 2022

Winnetka, IL Condos For Sale

For many buyers, a new home is one of the most significant investments they will ever make. Whether you're buying your own home for the first time or if you aren’t a stranger to the real estate scene, there are several items you may need to check off your list to make sure everything goes smoothly.
I will support you and streamline the homebuying process to make it as stress-free as possible for you. From the coast to the lakes, we have all the resources to help you with every step. Read on for a checklist to make it easy!

1. Prepare financially

There are several financial factors that determine your readiness for a home purchase. Many people assume that if they've been making rent payments on time, that means they're ready to commit to buying a house. However, this isn’t always true, as a home purchase can be a big step.

Check your credit

Evaluate your credit report (and your partner’s if you’re buying together). While bad credit isn't always a deal-breaker when it comes time to purchasing a house, it can make it much more difficult for you to get a reasonable rate on a loan. Knowing your credit report ahead of time can give you a better idea of what you're getting into.

Evaluate your debt

A home purchase may be one of the most considerable debts you will take on in your lifetime. However, if you have a great deal of other debt, you may find it more challenging to secure a good loan for your home purchase. Furthermore, you may find it more difficult to take on a mortgage if you have numerous debts. Consider whether you may need to pay down your debts before you buy a home.

Check your savings

In addition to your credit and debt, consider the amount of savings you have available toward your home purchase. In addition to a down payment on the property, consider:
  • Closing costs
  • Moving costs (such as hiring a moving company, renting a van, and other charges)
  • The cost of any renovations you may need to perform on the house
  • The cost of any furniture you may need to purchase as you move into your new property
Carefully consider the savings you have on hand and whether they are sufficient for buying (and moving into) the property.

Set a budget

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Consider how much house you can really afford and the long-term impact it will have on your finances. Remember that, as a homeowner, unlike a renter, you may have to take on additional costs for upkeep and other expenses. For example, you may need to consider the cost of:
  • Your insurance policy
  • Maintenance and home repairs
  • Increased utility costs
Carefully calculate a budget that includes your monthly payments, and leave wiggle room for unexpected expenses that may crop up due to homeownership.

2. Get preapproved for a loan

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Often, getting preapproved for a loan can make it easier for you to shop within your budget, especially if you aren't sure how high of a mortgage the bank will likely approve. Do some comparison shopping to find a lender that fits your needs. Remember that mortgage preapproval does not necessarily mean that the bank will automatically approve that amount. If the home isn’t appraised for the value of the loan, your bank may refuse to go above that value.

3. Find a local real estate agent

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Finding the perfect property on your own is like looking for a needle in a haystack. That’s where your real estate agent comes in! A skilled agent will provide essential insights into property rates and neighborhoods in the area and guide you through the buying process until you find a home that fits your needs. They can help you:
  • Detach from the emotion involved to make a more practical decision about the property.
  • Ensure that you understand the terms of the contract you're signing.
  • Put you in touch with professionals that can help you handle every aspect of the buying process, from inspection or repair professionals who can help you take care of repairs before you move in, real estate attorneys, designers and more.
Work with a local real estate agent who knows the area and will listen to your list of “must-haves” to achieve your home buying goals.

4. Create a list of what you want in your home

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Take the time to sit down and think about what you want in a home. If you have a partner, clearly discuss your wishlist so that you are both on the same page as you choose your home.
Ideally, you should have both a “must-have” list and a "want" list. Your “must-have” list includes features like the property’s location and school district, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the yard, and any other elements of the home that you just couldn’t live without. Do you want to grow your family? Do you have an aging parent who will likely move in with you in the near future? Do you plan to have any pets?
On the other hand, your “want” list includes your wishlist of features that your dream home would have, such as gorgeous fireplaces, waterfront views, or an in-ground swimming pool. Dream big, because you may be able to achieve some of these wishlist features after all.
Also, consider whether any aspects of the home would be a deal-breaker, such as repairs or renovations you might need to perform.
By clearly laying out your list, you'll have a better idea of what the perfect home for your needs looks like.

5. Shop around to find the perfect home

Your real estate agent is a vital resource for finding home listings that fit your needs. With online photos, videos, and virtual 3D tours, you can sometimes rule out (or rule in) a home based on its online listing alone. Of course, if you find a home that appeals to you online, the next step is to tour it in person.
However, don't feel pressured to jump into a home that doesn't work for you! You may be in this home for several years, so you want to make sure that it continues to fit your needs over time. Your real estate agent can provide you with more information about what you can realistically expect from a property based on your budget and your desires.

6. TIP: Schedule an inspection while touring

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No one wants to be blindsided by repair needs as they’re moving into a new place. A home inspection while you tour will ensure that you’re aware of any current or potential issues that need to be addressed, from structural problems to minor repair concerns. Completing a home inspection will put your mind at ease and instill seller confidence when making a competitive offer in a tight market.

7. Put together a compelling purchase offer

Your real estate agent will advise you on the current state of the market and on what terms and conditions will be competitive in your offer. Make sure you include:
  • Whether you want the sellers to address any problems discovered during the inspection. This may involve the sellers’ completing repairs or reducing the asking price.
  • The price you want to pay for the property and any contingencies regarding purchase.
  • Who pays closing costs and other expenses.
A smart offer will consider all those elements while clearly establishing your expectations. It will also incorporate your budget and your plans. Remember, while your real estate agent is an excellent resource in creating your offer, you will ultimately be the one who needs to take care of payments, maintenance, and repairs on the property.

Are you looking for a new home in the Portland area?

No matter which stage of the homebuying process you’re in, Emilie Cole will be your guide from start to finish. As one of Maine's top 5% real estate agents, Emilie is an agent you can trust every time. Whether you’re looking for properties in Falmouth Foreside, Cape Elizabeth, Portland, or Cumberland, you can count on her to help you find the home you’ve been waiting for!

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