Are you ready to start looking for a new home? You need a solid mortgage checklist to ensure you have everything you need. If you’ve never bought property before, it’s going to feel overwhelming, having to do everything at once.
That’s why this mortgage checklist has been put together. It will walk you through the house buying process so you know exactly what to expect.
Follow this guide as you start your journey towards homeownership, and you’ll be ready for whatever comes next.
Table of Contents
Getting Ready To Buy
The first item in the mortgage checklist? All the things you need to start preparing to buy your first home. You’ll do this before you even step foot in any home to take a look at it.
Here’s what you need to do at this stage to be ready to buy a home.
Decide on what you want in a home
It’s hard to start looking for a new home if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s why it’s important to consider what you want from that home.
Start with the home itself. Ask yourself basic questions, such as how many bedrooms you want and how large the home needs to be.
Also, consider the condition of the home. Do you want a home that’s in great condition, or are you prepared to do some work on it?
Now, think about the home’s location. Do you want to live somewhere close to family and friends, or somewhere with good transport links?
Think about the future too, as you do this. Right now, for example, you don’t have kids, but you’ll need a home with bedrooms for them and a good school close by.
Think about all these things before you get started. Be ready to change your mind on a few things, as they may change when you start looking at homes.
It always pays to be flexible in what you want. Consider what you must have and what you can be flexible about.
Work out what you can afford
This first step is crucial. You need to work out just what you can put down on a home and afford it.
Before you even think about looking at homes for sale, you need to start going through your finances with a fine-tooth comb. What do you currently pay out now, and what are you bringing in?
You’ll want to look at your income first. What is it that you and any other applicants are bringing in every month?
Once you know that, you’ll be ready to look at your debt. What are you paying out every month on things like your auto insurance, utilities, and so on?
You want to see what your debt-to-income ratio looks like. Do you have a good balance here?
You also want to look at your credit score, which you can do on many different sites. See if are there are any errors on the report, which you can correct if you spot them.
Also, consider paying down as much debt as you can. This will improve to debt to income ratio and make you more attractive to lenders.
Look into pre-approval for a mortgage
Pre-approval is when a lender looks at these aspects and conditionally agrees to a loan at a set amount of money. This is a good idea, as you’ll then have an idea of what kind of home you can afford.
You’ll need several things for pre-approval, such as a good credit rating, proof of income, proof of assets, employment verification, and identity documentation.
Start the search
Now you’re ready to start looking for your perfect home. If you’ve gone through the pre-approval stage, you’ll be able to see what you can afford.
These days, it’s always easy to see what’s available in a given area, as many websites list these homes for you. Take a look at these first to get an initial impression of the home.
It’s also a good idea to drive through the neighborhood at different times of day to see what it’s like. Talk to neighbors or any friends you know who live there to get an impression of how it is to live in the area.
Don’t forget to check out what’s nearby, too. Is there anything you want near the home, such as good schools or stores?
Hire a realtor
As a first-time buyer, it’s always a good idea to work with a realtor. They have experience and will be able to advocate for you throughout the process.
If you want to find a realtor, then you can look for one online. There’s also an option to talk to friends and family, as they may well have recommendations for you.
Make sure you choose a realtor with plenty of experience who can guide you through the buying process. A good realtor will work with you and help you find what you’re looking for in a home.
Start touring homes
Found some homes that look interesting online? Then you can start touring them, to see if they’re for you.
It’s always recommended that you tour the homes you’re interested in, as photos will never be able to show exactly what they’re like. As you tour homes, never be afraid to ask questions about them, so you can see if the home is for you.
Do be aware that it’s easy to get emotionally attached to a home at this stage. Keep a clear head, and instead, look for features that would work for you.
You can even bring a tape measure with you to measure aspects of the home and see whether there’s enough space for your needs.
On average, first-time buyers look at 10 homes, and it takes 10 weeks for them to do. Set aside plenty of time for your search, and be patient as you do so.
Starting The Buying Process
Found the right home for you? Then the next several items in your mortgage checklist are to ensure you’re ready to move into negotiations.
This is the part that’s rather intimidating for many first-time buyers. If you’ve been following this guide so far, though, you don’t need to worry.
With a realtor, you’ll find this easier than you’d think. Follow their advice, and you’ll be ready to start the buying process.
Submit an offer on the home
Now you’ve found the home you want, you’ll need to submit an offer on it. This is where it pays to have a realtor on your side, as they can help you prepare for this.
There are several things to be considered during this stage. For example, you’ll need an offer price, obtain disclosures, and establish a closing timeline.
Remember that the owner can send a counteroffer your way. Have a plan in place, should they do this.
It’s recommended that you send an offer as soon as you can. You don’t want someone else getting in there and getting the house before you.
Also, never skip inspections. These are vital, as they’ll tell you more about the home and warn you of any issues before you go ahead and close.
Finally, ensure the offer is just right. An offer that’s too low may be dismissed, and one that’s too high could leave you out of pocket.
Start the home inspection
Now you’re ready to have the home inspected, ready for sale. It’s hard to overstate how important this is, as it will tell you everything you need to know about the home.
For example, the inspection will check out the structure from top to bottom, including the attic, windows and doors, interior plumbing, and electrical, are more. The inspector will alert you to any problems they may find.
These problems can be anything from issues with the foundation to insufficient insulation and damaged roofing.
Be aware that the inspection will not cover the septic system, air ducts, pests, odors, or irrigation.
It’s important to know all this, as you need to know what you’ll be paying for in improvements and repairs. This may affect your offer, so be prepared for this.
Closing On Your New Home
Now you’ve been through all this, you’re ready to start closing on that new home. These final items on your mortgage checklist are essential. Here’s what you’ll need to do so you can sign on the dotted line.
Get an appraisal
This is something you need to do before you can get the mortgage for your home. You’ll need a professional appraiser to come and take a look at the home to assess the value.
They will be looking at things like amenities, square footage, condition, appearance, and comps. ‘Comps’ means ‘comparable sales’ and refers to the prices of other similar homes recently sold.
Through the inspection and appraisal processes, there may have been problems that have popped up. It’s worth preparing for this, as no home is perfect.
If there have been problems that have cropped up, you may want to renegotiate the price. Again, this is something that your realtor can help you with if need be.
During this stage, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in the price of the house. That should offset any repairs that you’ll need to make when you move in.
Sometimes reducing the price of the home won’t be an option. In this case, there may be room to ask the owners to pay for repairs themselves.
You don’t always have to renegotiate the price of a home. If the inspection has only come back with minor issues, then you may decide that you’ll go ahead with the purchase at the original price.
There’s the option to request repairs or a reduced price so you can pay for them yourself. If the seller won’t budge and the repairs are costly, don’t be afraid to back down from the deal.
Remember, you want a home that’s perfect for you. If the seller won’t move, then you’re better off continuing the search for your new home.
Apply for your home loan
Now the price is set, and the appraiser has seen the home, you’re ready to apply for that mortgage. If you’ve been pre-approved already, then it won’t take long for you to get started.
You will need a certain amount of documents when you apply for that loan. That will include proof of income, tax returns, and so on.
If you have been pre-approved, though, then you’ll be able to sail through this part rather quickly. The lender will walk you through what you need to do, so follow their lead.
Close the sale
Everything has been organized, so now you’re ready to sign the papers and officially become the owner of your new home.
There are several documents that you’ll need to sign. These include the settlement statement, which summarizes all the final fees and charges.
The promissory note also acts as an ‘IOU.’ This has the home loan terms, the payment dates, and where those payments must be sent.
You’ll also need to sign the deed of trust or mortgage. This is where you agree to the lien on your property as security for the loan repayment.
Finally, for the last item in your mortgage checklist, you’ll need to sign the deed itself. This transfers the ownership of the home from the seller to you.
Your mortgage checklist is done!
That’s it; now that everything has been signed, the home is legally yours as of the transfer date! You can start getting ready by packing up and arranging the movers.
With this timeline, you can see that buying your first home isn’t as overwhelming as it feels. Follow this guide, and have a professional like a realtor on your side.
Once you do, you’ll be able to secure your first home. Get ready to own your own home for the very first time.
Now you know the timeline for buying your very first home. If you follow this mortgage checklist and work with the experts, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all.
If you’re ready to get buying, start at the top of your mortgage checklist and start working your way down. Soon, you’ll have the keys to your very own home.