The Ultimate Checklist for Buying Your First Home

Buying a home can be overwhelming. But if you break it down in to smaller bites and take it one step at a time, it becomes much more manageable.

Here's how to get started:

1. Make a plan: Decide how long you plan on staying in your home. That will help you decide how large a home you should buy (think about needed room for any kiddos you might have a few years down the road), what neighborhood you might be interested in, and if you even want to buy a home at all. 

Not sure how to start making your plan? Let us walk you through it

2. Check your credit: The better your credit is, the more likely you are to get a better interest rate on your loan. You can check your credit score at www.annualcreditreport.com. If your score's not what you hoped, there are some ways to raise your credit. 

3. Decide how much house you can afford: Our mortgage calculator can help you sort out how much you can spend on a mortgage payment every month after all your debts and other costs are taken care of. 

4. Save for a down payment:  Having a good down payment can help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance--an additional fee every month that will add up. The best way to save for the down payment? Make a budget

5. Choose a type of mortgage:  Different types of mortgages fit better with different plans and housing markets. Read about the different mortgage types and choose the one that's best for you. 

6. Find a lender:  Remember, you don't have to go with the first lender you talk to. Shop around and find out who is able to give you the best rates on your loan. 

7. Get preapproved:  Once you know which lender you'd like to go with, it's time to get preapproved. Your preapproval letter will let the seller know you're serious about buying their home and financially able to do it. 

8. Find a real estate agent: Be sure to interview a couple before you make your decision. If you're not sure what questions to ask, check out our 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

9. Choose a neighborhood (or two): Your real estate agent is going to want to know what neighborhoods you're interested in. That will help her narrow down the homes you look at and suggest other possibilities based on your choices. If you're new in town, there are a lot of things you can do to choose the perfect location for your new home

10. Make an offer:  Once you find the right home, it's time to put in an offer. Typically, your real estate agent can help you decide a good starting price for negotiations. 

11. Negotiate:  It's not very often a seller accepts the very first offer you make if it's under asking price. A good real estate agent will be able to help you negotiate the price and any other add-ons you're interested in, like a home warranty, or that pool table that fits perfectly in the game room. 

12. Get a home inspection:  Never ever skip the home inspection. It's your chance to have a professional take a look at all the inner workings of your house and ask the seller to fix anything that's wrong. The inspection is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn how everything in your home works. 

13. Get homeowners insurance:  Before you close on your house, you'll need to prove you have homeowners insurance. This is another instance where it pays to shop around and get quotes from a few different providers to make sure you're getting the best deal.  

14. Close on the house: You're almost there! Closing on the house is when you'll need to sign all the legal documents and pay your earnest money and other closing costs.  

15. Hire movers: Moving can be almost as stressful as actually buying the house. We spoke with the experts at Two Men and a Truck to find out what it takes to have a successful move

16. Throw a party: You did it! Now it's time to celebrate with a little housewarming party!