The Ultimate Home Buyer Checklist


Are you a first-time home buyer looking to get started? Buying your first home is an exciting, rewarding experience, but it can get tricky, especially if you don’t have a clear picture of what all is involved. Having a home buyer checklist is the key to a seamless and successful home buying experience. 

Here’s what to keep in mind as you being this journey: 


Getting Started: 

Find a realtor you can trust.

Finding a real estate agent you can trust will elevate your home buying experience and help you maintain confidence throughout the process. Realtors help you navigate the tricky paperwork, negotiate the best price, provide insight on the area, and so on. Realtors not only have expert knowledge of the housing market, they also have your best interests in mind. The Ragan Realty Team is dedicated to helping you find the perfect home to fit your lifestyle and budget in today’s real estate market. 

Determine how much you can afford. 

Finding out how much you can afford when buying a home is one of the first things you should do. When taking a loan out for a house payment, your lender will only offer what you can afford, and in order to determine that, they take a look at your DTI (debt to income ratio). To calculate your DTI, add up all of your recurring monthly expenses and divide that number by your total monthly pre-tax income. 

Using a mortgage calculator will also help in determining how much you can afford when beginning the home search process. A mortgage calculator will help you better visualize costs for a down payment and monthly mortgage in addition to your desired loan amount and terms. 

Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. 

There is no sense in beginning the home search process until you know how much of a mortgage loan you can get. Once you’ve done your research on how much you can afford, contact a lender to get pre-approved. These are five things you’ll need to provide your lender in order to get pre-approved: 

  • Proof of income
  • Proof of assets 
  • Good credit 
  • Employment verification 
  • Personal documentation


The Home Buying Process: 

Determine what you’re looking for in a home. 

Buying your first home is a big decision and at times it can be overwhelming with so many options. Narrow down your home search by considering the following: 

  • What type of home best fits your needs? 
  • What features in your home are a must-have? 
  • What kind of area do you want to live in? 

Outlining the answers to these questions early on will help you easily navigate this process and avoid making the wrong decision. 

Begin your home search, tour homes, and visit open houses! 

Now that you’ve determined your budget and home preferences, you can get into the fun of it all. Work with your realtor to find homes that fit your needs and begin reaching out to schedule a tour or visit an open house! 

While pictures do provide value, seeing a home in person will give you a snapshot of what it’s like to live in the home and help you easily identify things features you like and dislike. 

Put in an offer. 

Once you’ve visited a few homes and settled on the one you like best, it’s time to submit an offer. This is where your realtor comes in to work their magic. Your realtor will help prepare your offer, establishing contingencies and obtaining disclosures, and submit it to the seller or seller’s agent. At this time, the seller will either accept your offer or come back with a counter offer. 

If the seller does accept your offer, the process moves into escrow, a short period of time – typically 30 days – in which the home is taken off the market with the contractual expectation that you will buy it. 

Get a home inspection. 

Once you’ve gone under contract, you will need to get the home inspected just to make sure there are no serious issues that need to be addressed prior to closing. This will help you avoid falling into a pit of expensive repairs and you can be sure that you made the right choice. 

A home inspection typically covers these areas: 

  • Roof
  • Insulation
  • Foundation
  • Windows and Doors 
  • Attic 
  • HVAC 
  • Walls, Ceilings, & Floors 
  • Plumbing and Electrical Systems 

Get an appraisal and final mortgage loan approval. 

Most lenders require a formal appraisal prior to issuing a mortgage loan. Following the home inspection, you will need to get the home appraised and provide additional documentation to your lender to secure your loan. 

It’s time to seal the deal! 

Once the home inspection is complete and you have come to a reasonable agreement with the seller, it is now time to close on your first home. Closing on a home is the process of signing various documents in order for the property to be transferred to your name. Once that process is complete, you will officially be a homeowner!

The Ragan Realty team is committed to helping you find the home of your dreams. Contact us today if you’re a first-time home buyer looking to settled down in the Triangle!