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First-time home buyer checklist

First-time home buyer checklist

Here is our detailed first-time home buyer checklist that explains how to buy a home. Buying a home is an exciting but overwhelming process, especially for first-time buyers. It is therefore essential for them to be well-informed and have a plan in place to make the process as smooth as possible. This checklist should help them stay organised and on track throughout the entire home buying journey.


It is important for the first-time buyers to understand their financial situation and the process of buying a home. They should also research the market and the area they want to buy in. This will help them understand the different types of homes available and the prices.


It is also important for them to know their credit score and to check the credit reports to make sure that everything is accurate. This will help them determine if they qualify for a loan and the best loan type for them.


List of items in the first-time home buyer checklist


  1. Is it the right time to buy?
  2. Budget and deposit
  3. Finding the best mortgage
  4. Pre-approved mortgage
  5. Checking the location
  6. Property viewings
  7. Making an offer
  8. Negotiation
  9. Exchange of contracts
  10. Completion
  11. Register ownership
  12. Moving into the first home!


Is it the right time to buy?

Once the first-time buyers have a good understanding of the basics, it is time to decide if it is the right time to buy. They should consider their current financial situation and if they can afford the monthly payments. They should also consider if it is a good time to buy.


The housing markets in the UK and the USA are going through significant challenges. With high inflation and high interest rates, it could be a risky game for first-time buyers to move into the property market.


Jenkin (2022) reports that many first-time buyers have decided that the economy is too volatile to buy a home because of high inflation and mortgage rates. This is reflected across all major real estate industries in the world.


However, not everyone’s circumstances are the same, and therefore, talking to a professional financial advisor should help first-time buyers understand their financial situation and decide whether it is a good time to buy a home.


Budget and deposit

The initial deposit is the amount of money first-time buyers may have saved to put down on the purchase of a home. This is usually a percentage of the purchase price. First-time buyers in the UK could apply for a mortgage with a minimum 5% deposit (Barclays, 2022). The average down payment in the USA is 6% (U.S Bank. 2022).


It is also important to consider the closing costs associated with the purchase of a home. These can include legal fees, inspection fees, and other costs. Knowing the closing costs ahead of time will help first-time buyers budget accordingly.


Finding the best mortgage

Now that the initial deposit and closing costs are ready, it is time to find the best mortgage. Buyers should research the different types of mortgages available in the market and the associated interest rates.


Buyers should also shop around to find the best mortgage rate. Different lenders have different rates and terms, so it is important to compare them thoroughly.,,,, and are some of the best price comparison sites.


Finally, buyers should consider the length of the mortgage. Longer mortgages will have lower monthly payments but higher interest rates (Jones, 2022). Shorter mortgages will have higher monthly payments but lower interest rates.


Pre-approved mortgage

Once first-time buyers have found the right mortgage, they should apply for a pre-approved mortgage. This is a letter from a lender (bank, building society etc.) stating that they are willing to lend them an amount of money. This should make it easier to negotiate with sellers.


However, it is important to note that pre-approved mortgages are not binding. The lender may not be able to provide the amount of money stated in the letter. Likewise, buyers can change their mind as well.


Checking the location

Once a pre-approved mortgage is in place, it is time to start looking for a home. The first step is to check the location of the home. Buyers should research the area to make sure that it is close to amenities, schools, rails stations etc.


They should also consider the safety of the area and any potential risks. They should also research the local economy and the job market to make sure that it is a stable location for them.


Finally, buyers should research if there are any plans for new construction or development projects. This will help buyers understand the financial potential of the area and make sure that it is a good investment for the future.


Property viewings

Once a suitable area is identified, it is time to start looking at properties. Buyers should contact a real estate agent and arrange for property viewings. This is an important step in the home buying process as it will help them get an idea of the different types of homes available in the area and the prices.


During the property viewings, buyers should take note of the condition of the home and any potential repairs that need to be made. They should also take note of the size of the home and any features that they like/dislike.


Making an offer

Once a property is selected, it is time to make an offer. First-time buyers should talk to their real estate agent and explain the offer they are willing to make.


Once the offer is made, it is time to wait for the seller’s response. They may accept the offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer. If they make a counteroffer, buyers can either accept or reject it.



If the seller makes a counteroffer, buyers should negotiate to try and reach an agreement. This can include discussing the purchase price, closing costs, and any other terms.


It is important to be firm but reasonable during the negotiations. Buyers should also be prepared to walk away if they cannot reach an agreement. It is also important to be aware of any deadlines associated with the offer that must be adhered to.


Exchange of contracts

Once an agreement is reached, it is time to exchange contracts. This is an important step in the home buying process as it legally binds both parties to the agreement.


Exchange of contracts is when both buyers and sellers exchange and sign the contracts. This is when the buyers are asked to put down the deposit. Once the contracts are signed, they are legally bound to buy the home.


If buyers wanted to pull out after this stage, they would lose their deposit. However, it also protects them if the sellers decide not to continue with the selling process any longer (Lloyds Bank, 2022)



Once all the paperwork is in order, it is time to complete the purchase. This includes paying the purchase price and any other associated costs.


It is important for buyers to make sure that they have all the funds necessary to complete the purchase. They should also make sure that the funds are transferred in a timely manner to avoid any delays.


Registering ownership

Once the purchase is complete, buyers should register the ownership of the property with the relevant authority (land registry). This is an important step as it will protect their ownership rights and protect them from fraudulent activities.


Moving into the first home!

Congratulations! The dream has come true! The long wait is finally over. However, moving into the new home requires a lot of planning!


Essential documents for first-home buyers

Having the right documents is essential for the home buying process. It is important to have all the necessary documents organised and ready for whenever they are needed.


The first document first-time buyers need is proof of identity. Passport and driving license usually serve the purpose.


The second document required is proof of address. Bank statements and utility bills (not more than three months old) are enough for this purpose.


The third document required is proof of income. This can include pay slips, tax returns, and bank statements. It is important to have proof of income to show that buyers can afford the home.


Buyers also need to have a credit report. The credit report will show their credit history, which is important for getting approved for a loan. It is important to review the credit report for any errors before applying for a loan.


In addition, buyers will need to provide documentation for any other debts they may have, such as student loans, car loans, and credit cards.


Summary: First-time home buyer checklist

Buying a home for the first time is an exciting but daunting process. It is therefore very important for buyers to be prepared and make sure that they make the right decisions.


This first-time home buyer checklist should help them in the process well; however, they are advised to seek professional and legal advice before committing to any legally binding agreement.


Hope you like this article: ‘First-time home buyer checklist’. Please share the article link on social networking sites to support us to continue with our work. You may also love reading the following:


Advantages and disadvantages of owning a home


Benefits of buying a house in the USA


Last update: 12 January 2023


Barclays (2022) First-time home buyers, available at: (accessed 22 December 2022)

Jenkin, M. (2022) Is now a good time to buy your first home? Available at: (accessed 24 December 2022)

Jones, K. (2022) Should you get a longer-term mortgage?, available at: (accessed 20 December 2022)

Lloyds Bank (2022) What does exchange of contracts mean? Available at: (accessed 21 December 2022)

U.S Bank. (2022) What is the average down payment on a house? Available at: (accessed 24 December 2022)

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.

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