If you’re buying a home for the first time, you could be forgiven for feeling somewhat overwhelmed. From getting your credit in order, to ensuring you have all you need to close the deal, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything.
If you’re in need of a helping hand, we’ve compiled this 2-part ultimate checklist for first-time home buyers. This second part carries on from part 1, and covers everything you need to keep on top of during house hunting, closing a deal and moving in. If you haven’t read the first part yet, check it out to discover all you need to know about planning and financing.
Stage 3: House Hunting
Once you have a clear budget in mind based on your pre-approved mortgage, you can finally begin searching for your future home. Use online listings to get an idea of what’s out there, and search according to the needs and budget you compiled in part 1. Your estate agent will also help you find listings, and can even locate some that aren’t yet publicized on the market.
Make a Shortlist and Visit
Attend as many open houses as you can fit into your schedule and arrange visits to those homes that make your shortlist. Seeing a home in the flesh is very important, and when you find one you really like, it’s worth going back for another look. While visiting homes, look beyond the staging, and be on the lookout for signs of damage and other things that can help you judge what is a fair offer.
Make an Offer and Negotiate
Once you’ve found the home you want, discuss with your estate agent and put an offer in. You can match the listing price in order to close quickly, make a lower offer, or a conditional offer. You may receive a counteroffer and negotiations can begin. Bear in mind, your offer is legally binding, so be sure you can afford it and that you’re happy with the terms. Once you’ve agreed a price and the terms of the sale with the seller, you can begin closing the deal.
Stage 4: Closing the Deal
After such a long journey, you might expect that agreeing a price with the seller would be the end of it, but there’s more to do yet. There are several tasks that must be completed before the sale can close.
Complete an Appraisal and Home Inspection
The lender will require a home appraisal before agreeing to cover the loan. This will typically be arranged by the lender as a security mechanism to ensure they’re not lending more than the perceived value of the property. A home inspection should also be carried out, which protects the buyer by alerting them to evidence of damage and any repairs that the home requires.
Sort Out Home Insurance
You will also need to arrange home insurance before you can close the deal. You can often buy home insurance from your lender, but are not obliged to do so. Shop around to find the best quote. Additionally, most mortgages with a down payment of less than 20% will require mortgage insurance, though this is normally provided automatically by the lender.
Close the Deal
Your estate agent will help you with the paperwork, which must all be legalized by a qualified real estate lawyer. To close the deal, you will need to have paid the down payment into an escrow account, completed an appraisal, obtained insurance and have the funds to pay the final closing costs.
Stage 5: Moving In
Moving in requires a checklist in its own right, but the basics are as follows:
- Once your offer is accepted, employ a moving company, or rent a van if you plan to do it yourself. This is especially important in peak seasons such as spring and summer.
- Organize time off work for the moving period.
- Transfer medical records to a practice in the area where you will be living.
- Cancel subscriptions and local memberships.
- Arrange a forwarding address for mail.
- Organize your belongings, donating or selling what you don’t need.
- Arrange connection of utilities at your new address.
- Pack everything up and move into your new home!
And you’re done! It’s a long journey, but a worthwhile one. Thorough planning and budgeting makes a world of difference, and by taking your time early on, you save time during the stressful searching, negotiating and closing periods. A good estate agent will help the process along, ensuring your dream home doesn’t slip away from you at the last minute!