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Blake Nelson • Kansas City Real Estate

  /  Buying a Home   /  Team Blake’s First-Time Home Buyer Checklist

Team Blake’s First-Time Home Buyer Checklist

Team Blake’s First-Time Home Buyer Checklist: A Step-by-Step Checklist to the Home Buying Process

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to buying a home. You’ll need to budget for not only the house itself but also legal fees, taxes and moving costs. It can be overwhelming but Team Blake’s first-time home buyer checklist can set you on the right track to becoming a homeowner. We’ll teach you what’s involved in the home buying process, from finding your perfect property through closing day.

We always suggest working with knowledgeable, friendly real estate agents that can assist you through the complicated process of buying a house. The good news is, you can find those knowledgeable, friendly agents within Team Blake! Not to mention, we’re also resident Kansas City experts making any relocation to the area even easier. 


Home Buying Steps: Finding Your Home

Finding the right house takes time and sometimes patience but there are specific steps you can take to make the process a little easier. Keep reading to learn the steps to implement when looking for a new home.


Know Your Ideal Home

What kind of house are you looking for? A starter home, a large family home or an empty nester’s retreat? Understanding what you want out of a house will help narrow down your search and keep you from settling on the first thing that comes along. Here are some questions that may help you narrow down what kind of home you’re in the market for:

  • Where do you want to live? Type of neighborhood? City, country or suburbs?
  • What size of home are you looking for? Are you looking for a luxury home?
  • How many bathrooms do you need? Bedrooms? Does it need to have an office space too?
  • Do you want a yard or garden area for planting and working in the fresh air? For pets like dogs or cats or both?
  • Is a pool or other amenities important to you?
  • Do you want a home with an attached garage, driveway parking only or street parking only?


Decide on Your Price Range

Before looking at houses in Kansas City, decide what you can afford. Your budget will determine how large a down payment you need to make and how much you can borrow from the bank. You can get an idea of how much you can afford by using a mortgage calculator. Take into consideration your new home purchase price, closing costs, moving expenses and any other big one-time purchases you’ll have to make when buying a house.

As a home buyer, it can be a good idea to be conservative about what you can afford when you’re doing the math for creating a budget. It may take some time, but if you set yourself up with an excellent budget, you’ll be less likely to overspend on your new home.


Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

If you have saved up enough of a down payment, the next thing you need to do before buying a home in Kansas City is to get pre-approved for a loan. A professional lender will calculate how much money you can borrow based on your credit score and financial history. You will also be given an idea of how much money you’ll need to put down to get a home loan for the amount you want.

If you don’t already own a home, this step is crucial because it allows lenders to know that a new home buyer has secured assets before giving out a loan. When you make an appointment with the lender it is likely that the lender will ask for your full name, address and social security number, along with employment information and bank statements. Once they compile this information they’ll be able to give you an idea of the interest rate that will be applied to your home loan.


Find a Trust and Reliable Real Estate Agent

Realtors are essential to the home-buying process, especially for a first-time homebuyer. They have access to information on available properties, their history, and comparable prices for the area and the real estate market. Real estate agents are here to help you, they can assist in setting up house viewings, so you don’t have to do it alone. They’ll help you figure out your price range, what kind of property you want, and walk you through all of the real estate lingo. You can ask for an agent that specializes in homes in your type of neighborhood or pick someone that’s been in business the longest. 


Make Appointments to View Properties

After finding a real estate agent and establishing a budget, you can start looking at properties for sale in Kansas City. Your agent will set up appointments to view different homes for sale and help you determine if it’s the right one or not.

Here are some items you should consider bringing to your viewings:

  • A notebook and pen for taking notes about the house and any questions you may have.
  • A camera or phone to take pictures of the home.
  • A tool for measuring the rooms, like a tape measure.


Make an Offer on your Dream Property

You’ve found the one! The perfect new home in Kansas City is now within your budget, and you want to make an offer. Team Blake often suggests a minimum counteroffer that needs to be written before anything else. If the seller accepts your offer, you’ll work out the terms of buying with your real estate agent or attorney. You can still think about your decision if they don’t accept your offer.

It’s important to note that you can negotiate with the seller on things like closing costs and appliances. Team Blake will help with these kinds of negotiations and what to ask. You’ll need to get pre-approved for an additional loan, called “closing costs.” These will include taxes, lender fees and insurance, which add up to a few thousand dollars. Depending on the banks you’re going with, your real estate agent will send in an offer electronically or by fax.


Conduct a Home Inspection and Appraisal

Once your offer has been accepted, it will now be time to get your home inspected and appraised. Inspections will help reveal any property damage that you may not have initially caught and appraisals confirm the house is worth the price. While a home inspection may not always be required, it is a great idea to get one done to find any major damage that the property may have so it isn’t a surprise later on in your homeownership.

Oftentimes, you should get your home inspection done first so you can find out what problems the home may have and whether you want to go through with purchasing the property. In addition, starting with the home inspection can save you money. If you get through the inspection and decide you no longer want to purchase the property, then you don’t have to go through and spend money on the appraisal process. 

A home inspection can usually take up to three hours depending on the size of the property. During this inspection, the inspector will take a look at the home’s structural integrity, the roof, plumbing, and electricity. You can ask an inspector upfront how much it will cost to get your home inspected. Typically, it is the job of the person buying the home to pay for the inspection, however, the cost of a home inspection may be included in the negotiation phase or closing phase of the process.

After you’ve completed your home inspection, it is now time to get your home appraised. The home appraisal process is usually conducted by a third-party licensed contractor hired by the lender. The home buyer is usually responsible for paying the appraisal fees at closing but the seller can opt to pay for it up-front. Similar to a home inspection, the appraisal process can take a few hours to complete. 

The home appraisal report usually consists of:

  • A street map showing the property and comparable sales
  • Photographs of the exterior of the home and street scene
  • Photographs of each property used as a comparison
  • A sketch of the building’s exterior
  • An explanation or formula of how the square footage was calculated
  • Other information that the appraiser uses to determine fair market value, such as market sales data, public land records and public tax records


Prepare for Closing Day

Once the seller accepts your offer and you’ve negotiated any additional terms, it’s time to get ready for closing day. You’ll be asked to put down a deposit, and the home buying process will officially begin! On closing day you’ll go over the final loan terms, including the interest rate, and sign all the necessary paperwork with your real estate agent or attorney. You’ll need to pay the down payment or closing costs at this time. Then ta-da! You’ll receive keys to your new home!


Get Insurance for Your New Property

Your lender will require you to have an active homeowner’s policy on your new house, which you can buy through any insurance agency of your choosing. It’s good practice for a first-time homebuyer to have insurance on their new property, as it’s a big investment to protect.

This checklist for first-time homebuyers should help you during the extensive process of buying a new property. Remember that Team Blake is always here to help point out things that you may not have noticed or give advice on how best to negotiate with sellers if your offer is declined. Contact us today, we’d be happy to help guide you through the home buying process!

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