Seven Easy Steps to Make Your Checklist for Buying a House

The best reason to make a first house checklist is to discover all the things you need to know before buying a house. Investing a little time upfront to think about where you want to live and what you like to do may help you avoid expensive home buying mistakes or finding yourself trapped in a home that you hate.

Answer the following targeted questions about where you want to live, why you want to own a home, or when you want to move into your new residence, and you will figure out what to look for when buying a house.

By necessity, these questions are open-ended and generic in nature to inspire you to think of even more questions about your specific lifestyle, wishes and desires.

It will take you some time to work through this list but it will be worth it. If you do not have the time to devote to it now, you can always start the process, save your responses and bookmark the page. Come back and finish your discovery process of learning what to look for in a house as it suits your schedule.

Do You Know the Things to Look For When Buying a House?

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Things to Think About When Buying a House

Who Are You?

Ask yourself questions like these to discover not only who you are today but also who you will probably be in the future:

  • What is your status?
  • Are you single, engaged, divorced, retired, disabled or elderly?
  • Who else will be living with you right now?
  • How might your situation change in the future?
  • If you are single, do you plan to get a roommate or will you live alone?
  • What will you do if you have to add someone to your household unexpectedly such as an aging relative, sibling, foster child or pet?

Use your answers to the above to start creating your checklist for home buying.

Things to Know Before Buying a House

What Do You Do?

Knowing whom you are helps you start to define your lifestyle, but you also need to know how you spend your time both on and off the job. Notate your answers to the following on your home buying checklist and include answers to any more questions that come to mind.

  • What is your occupation?
  • Do you work from home or go to an office or job site?
  • Do you commute, travel for business, or stay local?
  • Are you self-employed or work for an employer?
  • Is your job seasonal?
  • What is your income?
  • What changes in that income do you project in two years, five years and ten years?
  • Are you considering a career change?
  • What do you do for leisure?
  • What are your hobbies or interests?

Is Your Dream House Starting to Come Into Focus?

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What to Know Before Buying a House

Where Do You Want to Live

In addition to discovering who you are and what you do, you'll need to look at where you want to live. As you work through this discovery process, you'll find that some of the sections may begin to overlap.

For instance, where you want to live is probably linked closely to your occupation or whether or not you have children. If you find yourself thinking of other questions relating to a previous section, just go back to that section of the home buying checklist you are creating and jot down the extra information. The more you know about your desires and lifestyle, the happier you'll be in your new home.

Ask yourself:

  • Where do you work?
  • How far are you willing to commute?
  •  Is public transportation a necessity?
  • Where are the closest schools?
  • How is their quality and reputation?
  • Is transportation provided, or do you need to factor that in?
  • Where is the nearest preschool or day care center?
  • How close do you need to be to shopping centers and grocery stores?
  • Where are your healthcare, vision or dental providers located?
  • How close to them would you like to be?
  • Where are the nearest community or cultural amenities?
  • Where will you want to live in 5, 10 or 30 years?

Things to Check Before Buying a House

When Do You Want to Move

Are you planning to move in the next three months or is home ownership a long-term goal for you? Answering this question first helps you in many ways. If owning your own home is a dream on your future achievements list, you may want to stop right here for now.

After all, if your dream home is five or six years into the future, your lifestyle, occupation and family situation could have changed dramatically.

What to Know Before Buying a House

Why Do You Want to Own a Home?

Potential buyers consider this one subject least. They may know they are tired of their rent money being used to purchase more property for their landlord, or they hope the homeowner tax benefits will offset the higher monthly payment of a mortgage. However, they usually have not thought about some of these other homeowner benefits:

  • How important to you is the ability to make changes to your living environment or own a pet?
  • How important are hobbies like gardening, growing flowers or landscaping?
  • How important are issues like freedom of personal expression, privacy and security to you?
  • Are you living at home or with a roommate and you want more freedom?
  • How interested are you in acquiring an asset that will most likely appreciate over time?
  • How would it change your life to stop waiting for the property owner to fix or maintain your residence or stop increasing your rent?

What First Time Homebuyers Must Know Before Purchasing a Home

How Will You Achieve Your Dream

This is the most important area to focus on because buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people ever make. Don’t get carried away by emotion and find yourself married to a home that you cannot afford.

Ask yourself some tough questions now to avoid a foreclosure or bankruptcy down the road:

  • How important is it to you to get a low-interest rate on your loan?
  • Can you afford to buy it down via points to lower your monthly payments?
  • How many open lines of credit do you already have?
  • What is the total amount of your outstanding credit obligations?
  • How is your credit rating?
  • If it is poor, how can you improve it?
  • How large a down payment can you afford?
  • Where will you get the money?
  • How have you paid your debts in the past?
  • What does your credit history look like?
  • How long have your credit line been open?
  • How much new credit do you have?
  • How will you afford your monthly payments?
  • What would happen if you lost your job, contracted an expensive illness, or suffered a disastrous accident or calamity?
  • How much total debt are you carrying?

Making Your First Home Checklist

Now that you know what to look for when buying a house such as where you want to live or how you will afford to pay for your dream home, you can make your customized home buying checklist. Use your answers to these questions to create a wish list for your next home based on your lifestyle, your occupation, and your likes and dislikes.

Once you are settled into the home of your dreams, you'll be glad that you invested a tiny amount of time on the front end to gain a high level of satisfaction on the back end.

By thinking about what you do want, you've also discovered what you don't want in your new home. You are ready to take the next step, which is to hire your real estate agent, take your first home checklist, and start shopping.