As a first-time homebuyer, there are dozens of things to think about. Between finding the right loan, locating a property you love, arranging a showing, and making an offer, it’s easy to see how so many people get overwhelmed by the process.
Luckily, you can stay organized (and sane) with the help of a simple first-time homebuyer checklist, designed to walk you through every stage of the home buying process.The First-Time Homebuyer Checklist
Keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed during the home-buying process by following this simple checklist:
1. Evaluate your credit report
Before you can purchase your first home, it’s critical to understand your credit score. With this in mind, take the time needed to evaluate your credit score fully. Where does your credit scores currently stand? Most lenders provide the best rates to buyers with credit scores of 720 or above. If your score is lower than this, are there things you can do to improve it? Do you have outstanding debts that need to be paid off before you can pursue the purchase of your first home?
By evaluating all of those things now, you set yourself up to buy your first home more efficiently, while also ensuring you’re making smart financial decisions throughout.
If you’re confused about where to find your credit score, one of the easiest ways to locate it is to get your free FICO score with Discover’s credit score card. You don’t have to be a Discover member to take advantage of the service and it offers a straightforward and streamlined way to track your score.
2. Save for your down payment
While many first-time homebuyer programs allow for a small or nonexistent down payment, it’s still smart to have some money in the bank for your down payment. Remember, the larger the down payment you can provide, the better your loan will be and the faster you’ll be able to pay the home off.
For best results, it’s wise to have at least 20% of the home’s total purchase price in the bank for a down payment. If you absolutely can’t afford this, save as much as you can and look into first-time homebuyer programs in California that can help you save money.
3. Factor in additional expenses
Buying a home is about more than just the down payment, you’ll also have to consider insurance, taxes, and, possibly, homeowner’s association fees. With this in mind, sit down with a financial planner and add up the prospective costs (all of them) of home ownership.
Is this something you can afford on a monthly, yearly basis? If not, which adjustments do you need to make to facilitate the increased expenses? While thinking about your budget in this fashion can be stressful, it’s an essential part of responsible home ownership, and it can go a long way toward streamlining the purchasing process for you.
4. Get your paperwork together
Once you’ve taken a close look at your budget, it’s time to start pulling your needed paperwork together. As anyone who has ever purchased a home can tell you, the whole process can feel like nothing but red tape, at times. With this in mind, pull together the last three years of your tax records, your pay stubs, documentation of your credit card accounts, student loans, and anything else your lender requests.
While it may seem unnecessary to gather these things now, mortgages can take some time to process fully, and having this paperwork organized from the get-go can help hasten the process, which means you’ll get into your new home faster.
5. Hire a real estate professional
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, having an experienced real estate professional to guide you through the home purchasing process will be indispensable. In addition to the fact that these professionals understand the market, they can also help you avoid common pitfalls and find the best first home for your unique circumstances.
Your First-Time Homebuyer Checklist, Made Simple
As a first-time homebuyer, having a checklist to guide you through the process is a great comfort. Regardless of where you’re looking at homes or how soon you’d like to move in, completing every point on this checklist will help ensure that you’re making responsible home ownership decisions, and that you won’t’ run into preventable issues down the road, all of which makes the process of being a first-time homeowner much more fun!
With that in mind, happy (responsible) house hunting!
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