Searching for the perfect home can be exhilarating – and overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. There are just so many aspects to consider and decisions to make.
Well, you won’t feel this way anymore!
With my house-hunting checklist, you’ll know exactly what details to look for before visiting the house and the right questions to ask when you go there.
I know you’re excited to get started, so I’ll dive right in. But first, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Do I Really Need a House-Hunting Checklist?
Yes! Some ways a checklist can help are:
- A checklist narrows down your search. That means you can save time by skipping those homes that don’t fit the bill.
- There are so many things you need to think about. And it’s easy for a detail to slip your mind. A checklist organizes all the criteria you find important before you begin your search.
- A checklist can help identify any red flags or problems a property may have before you make an offer.
- It helps ensure you’re more prepared whenever you tour a home. More importantly, it allows you to make a decision more quickly.
- When hunting for a new home, you will probably visit several properties. A checklist can help compare the houses and find the one that aligns with your budget and needs.
The House-Hunting Checklist for New Buyers
Here is a list of things you need to consider when buying your home:
1. Allocate Your Budget
Homeownership is a huge responsibility. And it’s not only about making the down payment or the mortgage payments. Owning a house requires regular maintenance, and that can get expensive.
So before you set out on your home-buying journey, check the condition of your finances. Do you have enough savings to make the down payment? Do you have extra funds to cover repairs and maintenance? More importantly, can your income support those long-term mortgage payments?
If you can confidently answer these questions, congratulations. You’re eligible to buy a home!
2. Get Your Mortgage Pre-approval Letter
A mortgage is a popular home-financing option. But it’s only given to people with sufficient assets and income to repay the loan. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a preapproved mortgage, a seller will not consider your offer.
In order to get your mortgage application approved without a hassle, keep the following in mind:
- Stable verifiable income for the last two years
- A credit score between 500 – 620
- The down payment, which amounts to up to 3% of the total cost of the home
- A monthly debt that is less than 50% of your monthly income
- Enough savings to cover the closing costs (about 2 – 6% of the loan)
3. Your Wish List
I know you want a home with a jacuzzi and walk-in closet, but let’s be realistic. You need to create a list of essential things your home must have (the non-negotiables). For instance, identify the following:
- the suburb/district you prefer
- what type and style of house do you want to live in
- the size of the home
- the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need
- do all the bedrooms have to be on the same floor
- the size of the garage
- whether you want a yard or not
- easy access to the home if there is someone with special needs
- do you need a basement/cellar
Of course, this is just an example. Every person should create a wish list that aligns with their lifestyle and the needs of their family.
4. Size Matters
The size of your home matters. So before you plan on visiting a home, check its square footage. Does the house offer adequate space to live comfortably and fulfill your family’s needs? For instance, builders often create new residential projects in Karachi with different-sized properties. So remember to check floor plan details and assess whether the size of the house is sufficient for your family.
But beyond the size of the house, also check the size of the lot. This will enable you to understand how much land is actually yours and how close your neighbors are.
5. Check the Interior
As you walk through a home, pay special attention to the interior and check for the following issues:
- Smell: If the home smells musty or of wet socks, there may be mold and mildew issues. If the homeowner lights a lot of candles or has several diffusers around the house, they may be trying to mask the smell.
- Bathrooms: Inspect the bathrooms closely. Do the toilets flush properly? Does the water drain well? Is there rusty water in the taps?
- Water Damage: Check for water damage because it’s expensive to repair, and it decreases the value of the property. For instance, water stains on the ceiling, warped floors, and bubbling in the walls could be a sign of water leakage.
- Extra Rooms: If the house has an extra bathroom or bedroom than advertised, you need to check whether it’s been legally constructed. The homeowner should have the permits. Otherwise, you could end up paying a fine.
- Basement: Check the basement cracks. The last thing you want is to invest in a home with foundation issues.
- Integrated Systems: Check the lights, furnace, and HVAC system. Flickering lights and noisy units are signs of bigger issues.
- Appliances: Ask about the age of any appliances included in the sale and whether they have any warranties.
- Water Supply: Ask whether the home gets water from the city’s water supply or a private well. Water from a well will have to be tested to see if it’s safe to use.
- Sewerage: Like water, you need to ask if the home is connected to the city’s sewer lines.
6. Check the Exterior
Checking the exterior of your home is as important as checking the interior. Some aspects you need to look at include:
- Foundation: Big, zig-zag cracks in the exterior wall are red flags.
- Roof: Check the condition of the roof, gutters, and chimney. Look for leaks or damage.
- Yard: Is the lawn well-maintained? Is the area around the home properly landscaped? A wet or soggy yard could have drainage issues.
7. Check the Neighborhood
Once you’ve looked at the inside and outside of the house, it’s time to check out the neighborhood. Talk to some of the neighbors to get an idea of how safe the area is.
Drive around the neighborhood at different times of the day. Note how far everything is from the house, like your office, grocery stores, parks, schools, hospitals, department stores, restaurants, etc.
Let’s Start Hunting Homes
As a first-time homebuyer, searching for the right home for your family can be a feat. Simply review each property using the checklist mentioned above and focus on the “needs” instead of the “wants.” After all, you want to move into a place that will be your home for a long time.
It’s time to turn your dream of buying a home into a reality.