Home Buyers Checklist

Take this printable “Home Buying Checklist“ along with you whenever you go shopping to buy a home. It will help you evaluate the neighborhoods and assess the availability and condition of various features of up to three homes in a side-by-side home comparison.

1). Decide on How Much you Want to Spend – If you have decided that home ownership is right for you, the next step is deciding how much home you can afford. Typically, most lenders suggest that you spend no more than 28% of your monthly income on a mortgage. Keep in mind, in addition to the mortgage costs, you will have to pay the closing costs and legal fees, which are usually 2% to 3% of the house price. Also, don’t forget moving fees and labor, and any fixes that you might have to make to the house upon moving in, plus monthly maintenance fees if you’re moving into a condo or planned community. When you have figured out your price range, take a look at the market and the issues that matter to you. Research school districts, crime statistics, impending construction or anything that could decrease or increase the value of a home. Look at the surrounding area to see if it’s a place in which you see yourself and family.

2). Check Your Credit score - Your credit score is one of the main factors your mortgage lender will use to determine whether you qualify for financing. That being said, every lender uses different methods to determine your credit worthiness. So, in some cases, a minimum score is difficult to determine for conventional loans. In other cases, especially when loans are underwritten or insured by government organizations, there are minimum credit scores to qualify. The score your lender will accept for a conventional loan can be determined by many factors, including your payment history, your salary history, your current wage, your available credit, the scores other lenders are accepting and the current economic climate.

3). Shop for a Lender – According to Zillow, “Observe the way the lender responds to you when you first contact him or her. Are they prompt to respond to your initial contact? Are they friendly and courteous? Do they honor their quote that you saw online or in an offline ad? Are they willing to explain things to you or educate you about different choices? Do they proactively discuss the timeline of the loan (estimated closing date, when to lock the rate)? Do they discuss when/how rates will change? When you have figured out your price range, take a look at the market and the issues that matter to you. Research school districts, crime statistics, impending construction or anything that could decrease or increase the value of a home. Look at the surrounding area to see if it’s a place in which you see yourself and family.”

4). Obtain a loan Pre-approval – “Pre-approval” means that you have met with a loan officer, your credit files have been reviewed and the loan officer believes you can readily qualify for a given loan amount with one or more specific mortgage programs. Based on this information, the lender will provide a pre-approval letter, which shows your borrowing power. You can visit as many lenders as you like and get several pre-approvals, but keep in mind that each one carries with it a new credit check, which will show up on future credit reports.

5). Hire a Reputable Full Time Realtor® - Look for a professional Realtor® that can help you negotiate the ins-and-outs of selling your Jacksonville Florida home? We can help you with all the complexities of a successful transaction, which are many. “When you deal with someone who is going to help you buy or sell a piece of property, you’d better find someone that knows what they’re doing,” says Donald Brenner, professor emeritus at American University.” We are an experienced, professional and dedicated team of Jacksonville Florida real estate agents with strong communication skills who will ensure that you receive the best possible real estate transaction.

Call Kevin at (904)699-1900 for information.

6). Are there CDD Fees? A CDD fee is a Community Development District fee imposed by the developer of a neighborhood or subdivision to finance the cost of amenities in a neighborhood. These amenities and community improvements would not be provided without funding from CDD fees. These fees vary by development and are based on the amount of the loan taken from the county divided by the number of homes responsible for paying back the loan. These fees are most often found in communities built after 2003. Payments for CDD fees ARE tax deductible, like your property taxes.

7). Preview Homes - When a buyer is ready to look at homes, Jacksonville real estate agents are eager to show them. Most often, the buyer will select one or two homes to look at and the agent will pull up a supplemental list of similarly priced homes to show. But price isn’t everything. The problem is the buyer might not like any of the homes on the agent’s list. If the answer to both of those questions is no, you might be wasting your time. Serious home buyers do not have endless amounts of time to spend looking at unsuitable homes.

8). Make an Offer – According to Zillow, “In most areas, you will not be presenting your offer directly to the seller in person. So your goal when your agent presents your offer is to give the sellers few reasons to say no and many to say yes One effective technique, called “loading,” is to include with your offer a separate statement that does two things. First, it concisely recaps information gleaned from your CMA. This lets the sellers know that you know their home is not the only fish in the sea. Second, it gives the sellers all the reasons they should promptly say yes to your offer as written. Accepting a lower offer is emotionally unpleasant, and your letter should ease them through that process.”

9). Home Inspections - When buying a Jacksonville Florida area home, you will need a home inspection which is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home conducted by a home inspector trained and certified to perform such inspections. The home inspector will describe the condition of the home at the time of inspection. Keep in mind that a professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house and is not an inspection to verify compliance with appropriate codes. Home inspections usually take place up to a week before closing and generally allow buyers the first opportunity to inspect their new home. The inspection is to ensure that all terms of the contract have been met, and that major items are in working order.

10). Acquire Home insurance - Homeowners’ insurance is a necessity and something every property should have. If you have a mortgage, your lender will require coverage. Not all insurance coverage is alike. Policies and protections differ, and so do costs. In essence, you want the most protection for the least number of dollars. Homeowners’ insurance comes in standardized packages. The most basic form, HO-1, offers protections against such things as fire, theft, and certain types of liability. HO-2 is more comprehensive and includes protection against damage from broken pipes, the weight of ice and snow, and broken hot water heaters. HO-3 gives even more and includes just about everything and excludes only earth-shaking events such as earthquakes, floods, nuclear accidents, and wars.

11). Schedule Utilities - After you get the keys to your new place is not the time to figure out how to get the water and lights turned on. You don’t want to spend your first week shivering in a house with no heat or hot water. Understand the steps you should take to make a smooth transition of utilities in your new home. Before you reach the settlement table you’ll need to have an action plan for setting up and transferring the utilities accounts in your new home. Not all utilities shown here are applicable to every home, but this is a comprehensive list of the accounts that you need to inquire about: