Home Buying Checklist To Get You Started

Posted by Staff Reporter (media@realtytoday.com) on Jul 22, 2015 06:50 AM EDT
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ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: A cross marks a YES vote on a ballot paper at the count centre for the Scottish referendum on September 18, 2014 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Polls have now closed in the Scottish referendum and the United Kingdom await the results of this historic vote. With a substantial turnout at the polling stations the vote is too close to call and the result is expected in the early hours of Friday morning (Photo : Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Buying a home can be one of the most stressful experiences you will ever be into, especially for first timers. Fortunately, there are now plenty of available resources to help home buyers go through the process as smoothly as possible.

Trulia, a helpful real estate website, offers this free downloadable checklist to help anyone jump-start their real estate journey on a good note. Here are the pro tips and tools you can apply:

Gather Financials

You are always a step ahead by getting everything ready. So before you even begin looking for properties, make sure that you have your financial house in order.

Start with requesting your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Make sure that the reports are accurate and fix errors if there are any.

Then, prepare all the necessary documents that your loan officer may ask from you - from pay stubs, bank statements, and previous years' tax returns.

Research Mortgages

Now that you have your credit score and financial documents ready, this is the time you begin searching for home loan options.

Trulia has an online mortgage tool where you can search and compare a diverse group of reputable lenders in all 50 states encompassing small regional providers and even larger, popular ones like Citi and Bank of America. You can get a personalized quote and even take hint from lender reviews and ratings so you can find the lender that best suits your case.

This is also the stage to find out if you are eligible for a special loan like Veterans Affair (VA) loan or if you qualify for other special home buying financing options either through state or federal programs.

Get prequalified and preapproved to enhance your chances of getting a loan.

Explore Neighborhoods

This is one of the fun parts of home buying - exploring neighborhoods!

See how it is like in the neighborhood of the property you are eyeing. You can use Trulia's local maps to find out commute times, walk score, school ratings, or crime activity. If you find the neighborhood suitable, you may also want to check out bordering neighborhoods and increase your options.

Make A Shopping List

It could get a little overwhelming as you get deeper into the process and to lose track of what really matters is a possibility.

What if you find a home with a nice gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances but it's way above the comfortable high in your price range?

This is where the home buying checklist enters the picture. Allow yourself time to determine your "must-have", "nice-to-have", and "dream features".

Your "must-haves" could be a well-lit kitchen that has sufficient storage space and semi-new appliances. Stainless steel appliance and granite countertops could be in your "nice-to-have" section. While a chef-style gas range and pot filler could go to your "dream-features" section.

By knowing your priorities, you could go through the home buying process more quickly and with less complication.

Find An Agent

One of the most important steps in the home buying checklist is finding the right real estate agent.

The key to a successful home buying process is working with an agent who specializes in the type of home you are looking for and who is knowledgable on your desired neighborhood.

Trulia has an agent directory where you can scan agents' profiles, ratings, and reviews so you get a better sense of their qualifications and specialties. You can also ask your friends and family for recommendations - and make sure to do reference check to know about their experience in the field.

Start House Hunting

You are almost there! And this is where the real action begins.

After you have ticked all the preliminary steps on the checklist, you are now ready to start searching. Thanks to technology, searching for listings is now made easy and convenient. There are plenty of online listings you can browse on different real estate websites - you can sign up and receive alerts whenever a property matches your search.

Attend open houses and ask your agent to setup private showings for properties you are really interested in.  

Have fun house hunting, as the following steps - negotiating with sellers, home inspections, closing costs, and more - are next and they can be challenging.

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