The Complete and Only First Time Home Buyer Checklist You’ll Ever Need

Are you buying a home for the first time? Home buying power increased by 21% between 2020 and 2021. Before rushing through the process as a first-time home buyer, however, it helps to have a plan.

Otherwise, you might make costly mistakes before signing your papers.

About 5.8 million houses were sold in May 2021 alone. For some buyers, the process is easy and stress-free. For others, it can feel like a hassle.

In fact, about 31% of buyers were first-time buyers like you!

Here are seven tips you can use when buying a home. With these tips, you can simplify the process and avoid unnecessary stress. You can take on the housing market with an efficient, smart plan!

Start searching for the home of your dreams. Discover how to become a smarter first-time buyer with these tips today. 

1. List Priorities

Before rushing to explore the housing market or begin touring properties, it helps to know what you’re looking for. Otherwise, you might fall in love with a property that lacks many of your priority items. You could waste time visiting properties that fail to meet your needs as well.

Make a “want” versus “need” list. Focusing on your needs will help you pinpoint your priorities.

If you find a listing that suits items on your “want” list, even better!

Start by determining whether you want to purchase a brand new property or a previously owned home. Maybe you want to find a fixer-upper that you can spend time customizing yourself. Make sure you have room in your budget to make the necessary repairs.

Consider how many bathrooms and bedrooms you’ll need for your family.

Perhaps you’re more interested in finding homes with updated kitchen appliances. Maybe you’re more interested in having a spacious backyard.

Separating these items between “wants” and “needs” will streamline your search. Remember, you don’t want to waste time visiting inadequate properties. If they don’t meet items on your “needs” list, keep searching.

2. Hire an Agent

You can also streamline your search as a first-time homebuyer by working with an experienced real estate agent. In fact, over 50% of buyers find a real estate agent before discovering their desired property. Another 12% rely on agents to negotiate terms and prices.

It’s important to note that there are now over two million real estate agents across the US. If you want to find the best real estate agent, look for someone with years of experience. Make sure they have experience helping buyers specifically, too.

Their prior experience could simplify the entire process of buying a home. Otherwise, they might make mistakes along the way.

Determine how much experience they have with the local housing market, too.

Someone who is up-to-date with the latest housing market trends will have an easier time helping you. They can steer you in the right direction. They’ll know which neighborhoods to point you toward as well.

Before choosing the best real estate agent on your list, look into their professional history. It’s not enough to find someone with years of experience. How many clients have they helped over the years?

How many of those clients were buyers or sellers?

Ask if you can speak with some of the home buyers they’ve helped in the past year. Ask their clients about the home buying experience. Was the real estate agent able to streamline the process?

Speaking with the agent’s recent clients will help you learn more about them from someone who was once in your position. 

3. Review Your Finances

Don’t rush to start house hunting yet! First, take a moment to sit down and review your finances. Getting a better understanding of your finances will help you set a more informed budget.

Otherwise, you could risk falling in love with a property that’s well outside of your price range.

Determine how much you can afford by gathering your credit report. Check your credit score and make sure you’re paying your bills on time. If you can, improve your credit score before you start house hunting.

Next, gather your pay stubs, W2s, and other documents that prove your income.

Determine what funds you have available to establish a budget for down payments and closing costs, too.

Once you review your finances, try to get pre-approved right away. Getting pre-approved will show homeowners you’re able to afford their asking price. 

Make sure you know these real estate terms before you start searching.

4. Explore Neighborhoods

Talk to your real estate agent about your wants versus needs. Discuss different neighborhoods in the area, too.

Home Buyer Checklist

For example, do you want to find a neighborhood near the best local schools? Perhaps you want to live in a more secluded area. Determine if you want to live in the suburbs, uptown, or downtime.

Consider what’s nearby each neighborhood, too. For example, you might want to look for nearby shops, amenities, or restaurants. 

5. Think Ahead

Start touring homes as a first-time homebuyer to get a better sense of your options. As you explore each property, try to think ahead.

For example, will a loved one move in with you sometime in the near future? Do you plan on expanding your family with children? Make sure you have room for everyone.

Thinking ahead will help you enjoy your new home for as long as possible.

6. Visit More Than Once

Once you begin viewing properties, make an effort to visit more than once. For example, you might want to visit in the morning versus the afternoon. Consider visiting on the weekend and on a Wednesday.

Visiting on different days at times can help you learn about the traffic and noise at different periods. 

7. Request an Inspection

Before buying a home, make sure to request an inspection. Determine if there are any issues that require serious repairs. If the owner isn’t willing to make repairs, they might decide to adjust their asking price instead.

Requesting an inspection will ensure there aren’t any surprises after you become a first-time homebuyer.

Finding Home, Sweet Home: 7 First-Time Home Buyer Tips for Success

Becoming a first-time homebuyer doesn’t have to feel stressful. Instead, use these tips to start your search. With these tips, you can streamline the entire process.

You can take on the real estate market before finding the home of your dreams.

Searching for more tips? You’ve come to the right place.

Explore our latest guides for more.