A Complete Checklist for Buying a House for the First Time

No matter your age, whether you are single or married, or whether you have children or a furry best friend, buying your very first home is an exciting time. You get to browse listings, look at prospective neighborhoods, and view properties. Whether you are looking for a high-rise condo, a two-story suburban house, or a rural farmhouse, looking for your dream home can be a lot of fun.


However, there is so muchthat goes into buying your first home that it can easily become overwhelming, turning what should be a wonderful time in your life into something that is unnecessarily stressful.With this in mind, we have put together a complete checklist for buying a house for the first time. This checklist will help ensure you know exactly what you need to do and when. Let’s take a look.


A Checklist for Buying a House for the First Time

The items presented in this checklist for buying a house for the first time are presented in the order in which they should be completed. After all, there is no point in getting a realtor onboard or seeing properties if you don’t even know if you are financially ready to buy a new home or pre-approved for a mortgage. With this in mind, here is our checklist for buying a house for the first time:


1. Make sure you can afford it

This is where you make sure your finances are in order and that buying a home is realistic. That means making sure you have enough set aside for your down payment, that you have job security and an income high enough to be able to make your mortgage payments, and that you have a high enough credit score. This will require you to set a budget that will take into account your living expenses and any expenses related to home ownership, including maintenance and repairs.


Keep in mind that although there is a minimum down payment of anywhere from 3.5% to 10% for new homebuyers (this may vary depending on where you live), it is ideal to have at least 20% of the purchase cost as a down payment. This will allow you to avoid paying mortgage insurance.


2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

With your finances in order, it’s time to look for a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Keep in mind that pre-qualifying isn’t the same as being pre-approved. Pre-qualification means the lender is taking your word for it when it comes to your income and finances, whereas pre-approval means all of your information has been verified by the lender and they provide you with a maximum amount they will lend you.


If you have a preferred lender already in mind, that’s great. However, it’s not necessarily best to go with your bank or with someone a friend or family member recommends. Do your research into multiple lenders to determine the various mortgage rates, terms, and qualification requirements. Ask as many questions as you can and check the lenders’ ratings and client feedback.


3. Get a real estate agent

With your pre-approval in-hand, it’s time to find a real estate agent who can help you find homes in your price range. You will want an agent who is familiar with the area in which you are buying, is familiar with the market, and has a good track record.


4. View properties

Once you and your real estate agent have narrowed down the possibilities, it’s time to go and see the homes you’re interested in. Your real estate agent will be able to let you know about new listings, set up your viewings, and when the time comes, negotiate the purchase of your home.


5. Make an offer

Once you have chosen the home you want to buy, you will submit an offer through your real estate agent. This offer will include:


  • Your pre-approval
  • The price you are offering to pay
  • The amount of your initial deposit (earnest money)
  • Your closing details
  • A list of contingencies, which are the things (such as repairs) that need to be taken care of for the offer to go through (the inspection and appraisal often catch these contingencies)
  • When the offer will expire (typically 24 to 48 hours)


Keep in mind that the initial offer is often met with a counteroffer. There may some back and forth until you and the seller agree on a price and the other details of the offer.


6. Get a home inspection

Once your offer is accepted, you will need to have the property inspected. This will ensure that the price you are paying for the home is fair and that there are no repairs that need to be made that may affect the value of the home or that were not accounted for in the original list price.


This is a critical step that more and more people are waiving their right to. But you could find out the home has asbestos, bare wiring, or termites after you take possession. At that point it becomes your responsibility. If the results of the inspection are not in line with what you expected, you may be able to renegotiate the offer, either having the seller make certain repairs or lower the sale price.


7. Close the sale

This is when the final paperwork and legal processes are completed so that you can take possession of your new home, and it usually takes place 30 to 45 days after your offer is accepted and the purchase contract is received by your lender. Your down payment and additional fees (inspection, administrative, title transfer) will be made at this time and your mortgage and sales agreement will be finalized. A date will be set on which you will be given the keys.


Whether you are buying a new home, or the home is a resale, you will want to follow this checklist for buying a house for the first time to the letter. Complete the steps in order and don’t skip any. Each one is critical to the successful, low-stress purchase of your new home.


Ready to buy your new home? Reach out to Centex today to learn more about the steps you need to take to buy your first home.



Looking for more Foundation tips and learning? Return Home here.

Published 12.30.21

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