You’ve decided to buy a home. That’s great news! But what is your home buying process step-by-step checklist?

If this is your first time buying or if you need a little help, here are 15 quick steps to take you from just looking to closing the deal and moving into your new home.

Get familiar with the basics of the home buying process When you’re ready to get started, contact us and we’ll help you navigate through the steps so you get a quick decision and a rate that meets your budget.

Contact the mortgage team today

1. Define your home buying process budget

Establish a clear budget by considering your income, expenses and potential mortgage rates. See what rates you qualify for by checking your credit score.

Factor in additional costs like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and maintenance to get a clearer picture of your overall budget.

2. Get preapproved online

Obtain preapproval to understand how much you can borrow. Getting a preapproval helps to strengthen your offer when you find a property that you like. Get preapproved online to expedite this process and get into your home faster.

3. Research neighborhoods

Explore neighborhoods to find the one that aligns with your preferences, considering factors like schools, amenities and safety. Excellent ways to do this are to visit during different times of the day, chat with people who already live there and to visit local groups on social media sites like Facebook and Nextdoor.

4. Identify your priorities

Make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves in a home. If you’re planning to have children, make sure your home has enough bedrooms and is in a school district that you like. Figure out how long it’s going to take you to get to work each day. Want to install a pool? See if the ground is hospitable for it.

5. Work with a real estate agent

Seek the expertise of a reputable real estate agent who will advocate for you. Look for someone who can guide you through the process, provide insights and help negotiate the best deal on the home you want.

6. Attend open houses

Attend open houses to get a feel for different properties and gather information about the local real estate market. The more open houses you attend, the better you’ll get to know the market (and more free hors d’oeuvres).

7. Inspect the home

Prioritize a professional home inspection to uncover potential issues before making an offer. While it may be tempting to just look at exterior features, hire an inspector who can examine the actual guts of the house (plumbing, electric, structure, etc.).

8. Understand the offer process

How much are you willing to spend on your home? Familiarize yourself with the offer and negotiation process, and be prepared to make a competitive offer if necessary. Also be prepared to drop the offer if the budget is no longer comfortable for you.

9. Review the contract

Carefully review all documents related to the home purchase, including the sales contract, disclosures, and any addendums. Make sure to keep printed and digital records of all documents.

10. Secure home insurance

Research and secure homeowner’s insurance to protect your investment. If you’re financing your mortgage with us, you can secure competitive rates on homeowner’s insurance with your mortgage in one place.

11. Plan for closing costs

Be aware of closing costs and make sure you have the necessary funds set aside to cover them. Closing costs can be between two to five percent of your total loan amount and include things like appraisal, attorney fees and escrow costs.

According to Zillow, closing costs in Missouri run between $4,762.50 to $11,906.25. In Illinois, closing costs run between $4,956.18 to $12,390.45

12. Stay financially disciplined

Avoid making major financial changes, such as taking on new debt, during the home-buying process. Taking on new debt could affect your credit score, raising your rates. It could also throw your budget for a loop making your home unaffordable.

13. Be patient

Home buying can be a lengthy process. Be patient and wait for the right property. You don’t want to commit to a home or neighborhood you don’t like.

14. Attend the final walkthrough

Before closing, attend a final walkthrough to make sure everything is in order and meets the agreed-upon terms.

15. Celebrate (responsibly)

Once the deal is closed, celebrate your new home responsibly and begin planning for your move.

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