Buying a New Home in the New Year? Use This Home Buying Checklist

Are you buying a new home in the new year? Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or already own a home and need a smaller or larger space, it’s a good idea to be prepared. After all, interest rates fluctuate from year-to-year, properties increase with value, new home developments seem to be everywhere, and much more. There’s a lot to consider!

Keeping reading to learn more about buying a new home in the new year and download our handy home-buying checklist!

Top 10 Buying a New Home Tips

Before you rush out the door and drive around neighborhoods, you’ll want to have a game plan. Let yourself daydream about your new home. Imagine what the outside and inside would like. Picture your landscaped front and back yards. Can you see the flowers, trees, and shrubs?

We’ve created a handy checklist that will guide you through our top home buying tips.

Buying a new home checklist infographic


Explore Homes Online & In-Person

You’ll want to search for homes online and in-person to get an idea about the style of home you’d like to buy in the new year and what it should contain. For instance, do you want a one-story, two-story, or three-story home? Do you prefer a craftsman? Or maybe you’d like a Cape Cod? How many bathrooms and bedrooms should your new home have? What about a basement? Consider all of this and more such as the school system and other criteria. Once you have your information, start searching online and check out different neighborhoods to find your new home.

Consider Your Down Payment

If possible, it’s prudent to spend 20% of your home’s cost as the down payment. That’s $40,000 on a $200,000 home. If you aren’t able to do so, it is possible to begin your dream of homeownership with as little as 3% – 5% down. In fact, the nationwide downpayment average is around 10%. Keep in mind that because of the competitiveness of some markets, it may be more favorable if you have a 20% downpayment. You’ll also incur fewer payment requirements and stipulations, such as private mortgage insurance or PMI.

Know-How Much Home You Can Afford

How much home can you afford? You’ll want to make sure you can pay the monthly mortgage amount, so don’t look for homes that may be out of your price range. You may want to consider “three times” your income. For example, if you and your partner make a combined income of $100,000, you most likely could afford to spend $300,000 on a home. But the question is, “Should you?” Review your budget and be realistic about what you can afford.

Improve Your Credit Score

A very good credit score ranges from 680+. It yours isn’t that high, don’t panic. Take steps to improve your credit score. For example, you can pay off debt quicker, refrain from taking on new credit card debt, etc. The higher your credit score the better because lenders take it into consideration during the mortgage process.

Get Pre-Approved First

It’s a good idea to get pre-approved before you shop for a home so that you’ll know what you can afford to spend. However, you may not want to spend what a lender approves you for. Again, look at your budget and choose a price range that’s comfortable for you.

Create a Budget for Home Costs

Keep in mind that you’ll have additional costs such as homeowners insurance and property taxes. If the home you want to buy is located in a development with an HOA (homeowners association), you’ll want to consider the cost along with flood insurance (if the home is in a flood zone) and insurance for a pool, if the home has one.

Think about a Home Warranty

Also known as a home service contract, a home warranty is an annual agreement that offsets the cost of major items such as a home’s electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning along with many home appliances. Research a home warranty and read customer reviews. Don’t be persuaded by gimmicks because if they’re too good to be true, they probably are.

Keep Interest Rates in Mind

Another thing to keep in mind is interest rates because they can affect the real estate market due to their volatile nature; one minute they’re down, and the next minute they’re up. You may want to take advantage of lower interest rates. However, they may change in the next 12 months.

Get a Home Inspection

You may be excited to buy a new home in the new year, but your dream home may have old problems. For instance, the foundation may have cracks and the roof may need a few shingles or even a brand new roof! The only way to know for certain the health of the home you want to buy is to hire a reputable home inspector. However, it may cost you $300-$600 for the home inspection. But it will be worth every penny to find code or structural issues.

Expect the Unexpected

As with anything in life, you want to expect the unexpected. While you may think your current home is in great shape, you never know what could happen, from an unexpected flooded basement to major appliances breaking. This is why it’s a good idea to have an emergency fund savings account with at least 6 months to one year of savings so that you can cover unexpected costs.

Will You Resolve to Buy a New Home in the New Year?

Let’s face it. Buying and moving into a new home in the new year is exciting. However, you’ll want to make sure your finances and credit score are in good shape. Also, consider where you want to live, the style of home, old vs. new construction, etc.

To help keep you on track, download our home buying checklist. Happy New Year! And enjoy your new home.

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