Whether you are searching for your first home or your fifth, the process of buying usually includes the same steps. Here is a handy checklist to help you on your journey to home ownership:

Get a mortgage pre-approval. Mortgage lenders will take a look at your entire financial situation and tell you what you can afford to spend each month on a mortgage payment. You should consider others expenses that go with home ownership, costs such as utilities and property taxes. In most cases, you will know in a few days what amount a lender has pre-approved you for. Keep in mind that a mortgage pre-approval does NOT guarantee financing.

Find a real estate agent. Ask friends or family members to recommend someone. Meet with two or three agents and choose someone who you feel comfortable working with.

Think about what you are looking for in a home. Your realtor will ask questions in order to get a clear picture of your wants and needs before they arrange for current and future listings to be sent directly to your email.
Keep track. Viewing many homes can be overwhelming so jot down a few notes of what you did and didn’t like in each house.

Make an offer. Once you have found the perfect home, you will make an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. There are many items covered in the agreement, details like the price you are offering to pay, your deposit amount, what you would like included with the home (typically anything affixed, such as window coverings and light fixtures), your desired closing date and any conditions to the purchase. Securing financing and a home inspection are common conditions.
Start packing! Once the negotiations are complete and the conditions are met, your realtor will provide you with a Notice of Fulfillment. Now the wait until moving day begins.

Closing day. This is the day you legally take possession of your new home. Quite a bit goes on while you anxiously await the keys, but most of it is done behind the scenes by your realtor and lawyer. Be prepared to visit your lawyer’s office to sign the final paperwork, hand over your down payment and cover the final closing costs.