First Time Homebuyer Checklist

Owning your first home is an exciting step in anyone’s life. It can also be one of the most daunting experiences for anyone not fully prepared for what awaits. Luckily, we’ve put together a handy homebuyer checklist outlining some of the more important things you can do in order to make the entire process go easier.

Before You Shop

Build your credit

The better your credit, the better your chances of getting not just a loan but a suitable loan. There are a few things you can do to make this happen. For starters, you can review your credit score with the three major agencies. You’re entitled, by law, to pull your credit reports once a year for free. Look for any incorrect charges and dispute them. From there, If you have multiple loans or credit cards, consolidate them. Fewer debts can increase your chances.

Determine How Much You Can Afford 

This is a big one. You need to have an idea of what you’ll be paying on a monthly basis when you’re going into this entire process. Use our helpful mortgage calculator you’ll find on the front page of our site and figure out what you can afford and live comfortably in combination with your current bills. US News and World Report also has a helpful guide for finding out what qualifies as “too much house.”

Money in the Bank

Not all loans will require a down payment, but since you don’t know what you’ll need, it’s a good idea to build your savings. There is no exact percentage or number required, but a good rule of thumb is 20% of the purchase price. 

Find a Realtor

This one may seem like a no-brainer but it’s not as simple as you’d think. Don’t choose the first realtor you see. Do your research. Read reviews. Ask friends and family about the realtors they’ve used. The wrong realtor can get you in an uncomfortable situation pretty quickly. The right retailer can suggest a loan officer, a real estate attorney, home inspector and many other people involved with your purchase, acting as an agent for your needs. 

The Loan Process

Find the Right Mortgage

Like many other financial options, there is more than one kind of mortgage with different terms, conditions and applications. They include a conventional mortgage, an FHA loan, a USDA loan and a VA loan. There are also different loan terms, from 15- to 30-year loans. Do your research and find out what works best for you.

Gather Documents

Applying for and getting a mortgage will require a lot of financial information. The necessary documents are too numerous to list here, but you can count on needing your federal income tax from the past few years, recent paycheck stubs, proof of current rent and utility payments, credit card statements and student loan account information (if you have any). Your realtor will be able to help you determine what exactly you need.

Get a Preapproval Letter

A preapproval letter is basically a lender offering to loan you money and the terms required. It lets sellers know you’re ready to make a move. Apply for the preapproval when you’re about to start looking for a home. You can apply for preapprovals from multiple lenders in a limited amount of time without any damage to your credit score.

Home Sweet Home

Find a Home

This one isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right home aside from considering the neighborhoods and school districts. You need to know, going into the process, what is the right amount of home for your needs both present and future. Turn your realtor loose, it’s what you hired them for. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions about a home you’re viewing.

Make an Offer

Once you’ve found that dream house, you need to make an offer. Your realtor will help you prepare the offer with things that include your price, the contingencies, disclosures and a closing date. You should be prepared for a counteroffer from the seller.

Get an Appraisal

This is another important step. An appraiser is used by lenders before issuing your mortgage. It’s basically an estimate of a home’s value. Make sure it is done by a professional appraiser. Usually your realtor can suggest one with a good track record.

Get an Inspection

Here’s where you eliminate any potential surprises. A home inspection is a way to determine if there are any necessary repairs or problems that need to be taken care of before closing. A home inspector will look at things like the roof, insulation, the foundation, plumbing and so on. Again, your realtor can recommend a reputable inspector.


Based on what your home inspector finds, you’ll want to possibly renegotiate the home’s purchase price based on the necessary repairs. If the seller can’t or won’t pay for the repairs, ask them to change the price. Again, your realtor will be a great source of advice in this situation. 

Closing Time

The end is in sight. On your closing day, all the involved parties sign documents that make the deal official and the property will be transferred to you. You’ll sign things like the promissory note, the deed of trust or mortgage, the settlement statement if there is one and the deed itself! You’re now officially a homeowner!

Trust Tthe Home Loan Expert

When you’re ready to start buying your home, turn to the team at The Home Loan Expert. We’ve helped buyers like you get the best possible loan rates for more than 15 years. With years of combined experience, we know how to streamline the loan process and remove the stress, too!
Ready to start? Contact us today and let’s talk.


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