A Homebuyer’s Checklist
Criteria for buying a home can be as simple or as detailed as your individual needs, wants, and financial situation requires. You’ve likely thought about your dream home and how it differs from your current residence, or might be considering your first home purchase. Either way, it is the perfect time to create a homebuyer criteria checklist.
Criteria for Your Homebuying Checklist
Knowing what you really want is a great advantage when building a new home or buying an existing home. A checklist will help make everything go much smoother and organize your major action items. Whatever your rationale, make sure you meet the below homebuying criteria before committing yourself.
1. Develop a Homebuying Budget
The process of buying a home can be complex enough, and you shouldn't complicate things further by looking at properties outside your price range. To avoid this issue, develop a realistic budget by determining your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). The DTI is all of your monthly expenses compared to your monthly gross income. Our home affordability calculator may be useful to estimate what you can afford.
Then you can prioritize what bells and whistles are non-negotiable in your desired home, and which home features you can live without. It’s easy to get swept away by the “perfect” house, but the home that’s truly perfect for you must be something you can afford.
2. Determine the Type of Home You Want
Once you have a price range in mind, you can narrow down your search to the type of home you’re looking for, such as a single-family one-story home or a townhome or condo. Determining the type of home you want to buy goes hand-in-hand with its location. Do you want a condo downtown to be in the middle of the action or a single-family home to settle down in the suburbs? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you really need?
3. Look for Opportunities to Upgrade
Think of your home as what it is: an investment. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a fixer-upper, but keep in mind that there are things you can upgrade on your own. Whether it’s cosmetic or operational, smart homebuyers will consider the wants and needs of future prospective owners in addition to their own.
So if you come across a home that meets all of your immediate needs — like the number of bedrooms, for example — but doesn’t quite tick all the boxes of your dream home, use your imagination. If all it’s missing is something like upgraded kitchen appliances, consider taking that task on yourself later. DIY projects are investments for you to have the home you want while also increasing its worth.
4. Have a Trusted Real Estate Agent
Before you start looking for your dream home or starter home, it is a good idea to shop around and find a real estate agent in your area who will understand your needs and provide guidance throughout the homebuying process. Read up on reviews, ask friends and family who they would recommend, and call around to real estate agencies in the area where you plan to relocate. Doing so will help you find a reliable agent who knows the neighborhood and will be willing to help you in any way they can. Also, you might want to select a real estate agent who has a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) designation provided by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) that indicates these real estate professionals specialize in serving the military community.
5. Understand Your Mortgage Options
Familiarize yourself with mortgage lingo and acronyms in addition to the type of mortgage you’ll most likely use. This step in developing your homebuying criteria checklist will go hand-in-hand with the budgeting step, as this is when you’ll get an idea of how much you’ll need to save for upfront/closing costs as well as monthly payments.
When constructing your homebuyer’s checklist, also think your mortgage financing you will need. Check out this mortgage checklist to be better prepared when finding and working with a mortgage lender. Also, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a great homebuyer resource on their website.
We're Here to Help
Contact AAFMAA Mortgage Services (AMS) for all your home financing needs and let our Military Mortgage Advisor assist you with your homebuying checklist. We will be happy to provide you with an honest and fair comparison of your mortgage options including a wide range of low-rate and low-cost mortgages (e.g.; FHA Loans, VA Home Loans, and conventional mortgages) and construction loans designed to meet your needs.