Home Buying Checklist

Factors to consider and steps to take on the road to your next dream house.

  1. Check Decide how much you can spend.

    For a convenient worksheet, go to

  2. Check Check your credit reports to find out your status.

    Your credit report affects a lender’s willingness to give you a loan, and if there’s a mistake that negatively impacts you, you can try to correct it.

  3. Check Get an idea of how much you can borrow.

    Real estate agents and lenders can help with this, or use one of the mortgage calculators on the Web (such as on

  4. Check Shop for a mortgage lender.

    Look for the best rates and terms and a good-faith estimate of closing costs.

  5. Check Consider getting preapproved for a loan.

    You won’t waste time looking at houses you can’t afford. Plus, a preapproval letter will demonstrate your viability as a buyer (a good edge, when you bid on a house, if there are multiple offers), and you’ll save time once a bid is accepted.

  6. Check Find a real estate agent.

    An agent, who will be paid by the seller, can do a lot of the legwork for you. To find an agent, ask friends and family, interview several candidates (make sure they’re licensed and have access to Multiple Listing Service). Decide who you’re most comfortable with, and contact references if possible.

  7. Check Research potential neighborhoods.

    Investigate issues like crime rate, schools, local services, proximity to museums or other institutions that are important to you, commuting distance, ethnic diversity, and property taxes.

  8. Check Make a list of features you want in a house.

    Divide it into must-haves and like-to-haves.

  9. Check Go house hunting.

    Read the newspaper real-estate section, check out online sources (like, go to open houses, and use your agent. Print out a checklist of things to look for in each home you tour at

  10. Check Make an offer.

    But it should be contingent on the results of a home inspection and your ability to secure a mortgage.

  11. Check Get an inspection.

    To find a qualified inspector, ask for recommendations, or search for a certified inspector at Ask for and check references.

  12. Check Consult a lawyer if you desire, or if it’s required in your state.

    An attorney will help you decide whether you want to proceed with the deal, before signing a contract.

  13. Check Start organizing for your move.

    Once the sale is final, use the Moving Checklist to help you hire movers, order supplies, and pack up your belongings.