Checklist: Get ready to go house-hunting

Before you go house-hunting, use this checklist to make sure you are prepared to make a purchase:

  • Create a budget. You need to know where your money goes, where you can save, and how much you can afford to spend on your mortgage installment each month.
  • Check your credit rating and correct any errors in it. A good rating can help you get a mortgage loan; a spotty one may mean you end up paying a higher interest rate.
  • Assemble the documents you’ll need to get a mortgage loan.
  • Pre-qualify for a mortgage to find out how much you can borrow.
  • Make a list of what you need in your new home: number of bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, family room, garage, central heating and/or air, etc. You may also wish to make a second list of items that you want but are not essential, such as a fireplace, built-in cook surface and oven, en suite master bathroom and central vacuum.
  • Identify a neighborhood or two you’d like to live in based on price character, proximity to work, schools and daycare, recreation facilities, public transit, etc. Websites like Domania.com and Schoolmatch.com are good starting places.
  • Scan real estate ads in the newspaper or online to get a better idea of the kinds of houses that are available in the neighborhoods you like, and the selling prices of homes in those areas.
  • Engage a real estate agent who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’ve chosen.
  • Discuss your price range and housing needs and wants with your agent.
  • Ask your agent to walk you through the purchase process, from making an offer to closing a deal, and explain the costs involved.
  • View a number of houses with your agent so that he or she can get a better handle on your needs and preferences.
  • Narrow your search down to a few homes you can afford and like enough to make an offer to purchase.


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