The Definitive Home Buying Checklist

Father and Son

The path to homeownership is made up of lots of little steps that add up to one important purchase. We'll take you through the complete home buying checklistβ€”most of which can now be completed online with the help of Better.

You can even download a printable version so you can mark your progress any time, anywhere.

  • Figure out how much home you can afford

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    The first step towards owning a home is to develop a good understanding of your financial strengths and limitations. Knowing exactly where you stand will help you negotiate with confidence and avoid situations where you’re financially overextended.

    1. Check your credit score
    2. Calculate your debt-to-income ratio
    3. Consolidate your down payment funds
    4. Get a sense for how much you can afford. Try using our Affordibility Calculator
    5. Start thinking about financing options
    6. Get pre-approved for a loan. Better can get you pre-approved in as little as 3 minutes
    7. Avoid hard credit pulls and/or switching jobs as these changes could require further documentation and delay your mortgage
  • Start the fun part: house hunting

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    Once you have your financials memorized, it’s time to begin your home search. Remember: dream big, but stay within budget. Explore and ask a million questions.

    • Brainstorm your must-haves and dealbreakers
    • Research your favorite neighborhoods
    • Look at your preferred school districts
    • Evaluate transit needs
    • Try doing a dry run of your commute
    • Check out pre-market listings
    • Cruise the open house circuit
    • Run the faucets to test the plumbing
    • Flick switches to make sure there are no electrical issues
    • Open and close all windows and doors
    • Give the garage door a test run
    • Double check that every feature is in working order
    Remote option: When you work with a Better Real Estate agent be sure to ask if you can arrange for a virtual tour if you aren't able to to visit the property in person.
  • Assemble an all-star team to help guide you through the process

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    Buying a home is very much a team effort. Make sure you get the right people behind youβ€”a little due diligence ensures that everyone has your best interests in mind.

    1. Find the perfect agent to
      bring it all together

      Get local expertise and a $2k discount when you work with a Better Real Estate agent. *Terms and conditions apply

    2. Recruit an attorney to help
      with the paperwork

      Find out if your state requires an attorney.

    3. Get an inspector to do
      a thorough examination

    4. Find an insurance agent
      that covers your needs

      Did you know: Better Cover offers home owners insurance coverage to go with your Better Mortgage. See what’s available in your state.

  • Gather your mortgage documents to speed
    things along

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    If there are multiple people vying for the same property, the most organized buyer usually wins. Make sure to come to the table with all your documents at the ready.

    Tip: Better Mortgage can help you get ready with fast uploads and processing speeds.

    • Make sure to have 2 years of personal tax
      returns handy
    • If you’re a business owner, include 2 years of business tax returns, K-1 statements if you own an S-corp, and your profit & loss statements
    • Get at least 2 years of W-2s or 1099s
    • Download 2 months or more of recent
      bank statements
    • Get proof of alimony or child support
      payments (if applicable)
    • Have your pre-approval letter from
      Better Mortgage on hand
    • If you earn a fixed income, prepare to share your pension award letters, Social Security, and/or disability income
    • If part of your income is from restricted stock units (RSUs), locate your written verification of employment (WVOE) from your employer and your vesting schedule
  • Lock your rate and close your dream home

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    This is the final stretch, but it’s crucial. The team you chose will swing into action and help make sure the home you want becomes the home you own.

    Tip: Better Mortgage closes 10 days faster than the industry average.

    1. Make an offer and put down a deposit

    2. Get loan estimates from
      your mortgage lenders

      You won’t find commission or origination fees on our loan estimates. That’s what helps us deliver more affordable mortgages to our borrowers.

    3. Use points and credits to help adjust your rate and/or down payment

    4. Choose a loan and lock your rate

    5. Upload your documentation

    6. Get a settlement agent to help with title insurance and closing

    7. Get a appraised and inspected

      Remote option: Organize a "drive-by" appraisal and go fully remote with a desktop appraisal.

    8. Negotiate any necessary repairs

    9. Schedule your closing with your
      settlement agent

    10. Sign and notarize all county and state
      required documents

      Remote option: Request digital document signings and arrange for a mobile notary service.

    11. Record your purchase with the county

      Remote option: See if your state offers e-recording to send documents online.

    12. Make sure to do a final walkthrough

  • Get ready for the big move

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    Once you’re here, the hard part is essentially over. Now it’s time to make your dream a reality and start nesting. Congrats.

    • Pick up your keys

    • Pick out your movers

    • Outfit your new home with a security system

      Save money on a SimpliSafe home security when you close a Better mortgage.

Have questions?

Our mortgage experts can do more than just loans. They can help you navigage the entire homebuying process. Set up a time and we’ll give you a ring.


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