So, you chose a great lender to help you with financing. You have kept your credit clean and your debts down and savings up. You picked an amazing real estate agent who helped you find, then negotiate on, and got a contract on a house you love. Hard part is done, right? Well, not exactly. There's still some things you need to do to make sure you actually get to move in to that dream house. Your lender and your real estate agent are working hard. Here's what they want you to do.
1- Do not do ANYTHING that could impact your credit without talking to your lender. No, you don't want that department store credit card. No, you don't need a cute car to go in your new garage. No, you shouldn't refinance that student loan. No, you shouldn't use your entire down payment to pay off that credit card. You do not want a new African Gray parrot, I don't care how beautiful it is. In talking with your lender, you may find that you do need to do some rearranging of your financial situation, but any changes you make should be in concert with your lender and with his/her approval. Once you are closed and moved in, you have freedom again. I had a lender tell me the cautionary tale of a buyer who bought a house full of furniture the day before closing, figuring she was in the clear. Turns out the underwriter did a final credit pull and that shopping spree knocked her debt to income ratio out of acceptable ranges. She didn't have a house for all of that lovely furniture.
2- Hire a good home inspector to look over the house. Get recommendations and read reviews. If possible, look at a sample report to make sure the inspector is thorough. It's better to find catastrophic problems BEFORE closing.
3- Get all of your paperwork to the lender (if you haven't already). If the underwriter is wanting clarification or additional paperwork, it's nice to know that well in advance and not scrambling at the end.
4- Expect cold feet. Everyone I've ever met has this freakout moment where they think, "I have made a terrible mistake. I should not be buying a house or considering moving." Give it a couple days, but odds are, the enthusiasm will return.
4- ASK QUESTIONS! You are not going to annoy your agent, lender or home inspector. We WANT you to know what's going on. You are a partner in this transaction.
5- Start packing and making moving arrangements. Do your research to find a reputable moving company if you are hiring out. If you are planning on having friends and family helping, start buttering up them up now.
6- Take time to relax. Buying a home is a very stressful experience. Don't neglect things you love to do because you are too wound up to concentrate. Do something relaxing and you'll find your mind works much better.
7- Keep your priorities clear. I'm not just talking short term (i.e. I want to buy THIS house NOW). Think long term. You want to be in a safe, comfortable and affordable place. If it turns out this house has something awful uncovered in the inspection, or your financial situation takes a turn for the worse, maybe THIS house RIGHT NOW isn't the best for you. Look at the research and differentiate between legitimate concerns and cold feet.
8- Keep your eyes on the prize. When it seems like you're getting bogged down in the minutae (seriously, I have to pack and carry ANOTHER box?!), think about how nice it will be when it's all done, and you're relaxing in your new home.
Hopefully this short list of instructions helps you on your journey.