Real Estate Survival Guide: Buyer's Checklist

Refer to this 10-step checklist to get you through the homebuying process.
Homeowners with Sold Sign

Homeowners with Sold Sign

1. Figure out how much house you can afford.

  • Calculate your monthly income and debt.
  • Check your credit report and FICO score.
  • Use FrontDoor's mortgage calculator.
  • Figure out your down payment.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

  • Choose a type of mortgage.
  • Speak to at least five lenders and mortgage brokers.
  • Shop for the best interest rates and programs.

3. Determine what you want and need in a home.

  • Choose a location (downtown, urban, suburban, rural).
  • Choose a type (single family, townhouse, condo, loft).
  • Choose a price range.
  • Choose a size.
  • Choose an architectural style.

4. Research your target neighborhoods.

  • Look online for information on schools, crime rate, traffic and zoning.
  • Determine your work commute.
  • Scout local amenities, such as parks, shops and restaurants.

5. Work with a buyer's agent who knows the neighborhood.

  • Get referrals.
  • Consider working with an exclusive buyer's agent.
  • Interview at least three agents.
  • Look for experience and good chemistry.

6. Search for homes in the MLS and For Sale By Owner (FSBO).

  • Browse listings online, including FrontDoor.com.
  • Ask your agent to set up tours of homes that fit your criteria.
  • Check local newspapers.
  • Pick up flyers and attend open houses.

7. Research each home you want to buy.

  • Ask your agent for comps to estimate the property's fair market value.
  • Ask the seller's reason for selling.
  • Review all property disclosures.
  • Find out about liens, easements or other restrictions.

8. Make an offer and negotiate.

  • Determine the purchase price.
  • Include contingencies, such as financial, inspection or purchase.
  • Spell out any special requests and repairs you want included in the sale.
  • Determine an earnest money amount.
  • Define a move-in date.
  • Once both parties agree to the terms, sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

9. Finalize the deal.

  • Get the house appraised.
  • Get a professional home inspection.
  • Consider getting specific inspections for structural engineering, roof and termites.
  • Use the appraisal and inspection reports to re-negotiate if necessary.
  • Choose a home insurance company.
  • Complete the loan process with the lender.
  • Do a walk-through inspection prior to closing.
  • Set aside cash for the closing costs and down payment.

10. Close the purchase.

  • Review the settlement document at least 2 days before closing to see how funds will be collected and distributed.
  • Get a cashier's check for the amount you need to bring to closing, including the down payment and closing costs.
Keep Reading

Next Up

Real Estate Survival Guide: Seller's Checklist

Refer to this 10-step checklist to get you through the home-selling process.

Real Estate Investing

Before you invest in real estate, it's important to look at carrying costs, closing costs, commissions and capital gains taxes. Here's why.

Campus Cribs: Buying Real Estate Property for Your College Student

Buying a space for your student could turn out to be a great investment.

Take Better Real Estate Photos

Attract web-savvy homebuyers with quality shots.

Casting Home Buyers and Dynamic Realtors for Real Estate Show

Are you a home buyer or a dynamic realtor? Apply now to be a part of this new real estate show!

A Buyer's Guide to Open House Etiquette

Master these dos and don'ts of house hunting.

The Buyer's Field Guide to the Open House

Arm yourself with these expert tips and advice when braving the Sunday open house. Learn more on HGTV.com.

The Ultimate Staging Guide Checklist

Ready, set, stage! This checklist will take you through every step of the way.

Homebuying Dos and Don'ts

Take in these 8 tips for house hunting success.

Flooring Buyer's Guide

Given the wide array of flooring options available, you're bound to find one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Learn about 10 popular flooring types to find your match.

On TV

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.