House-Hunting Checklist: What Buyers Need to Look Out For Before Buying

House-Hunting Checklist: What Buyers Need to Look Out For Before Buying

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial investments people will ever make. Not to mention those that look to benefit from property investments. It’s not hard to see why that’s the case; home prices have been rising steadily for decades.

However, how can you find a property that can fulfill your needs? Using a house-hunting checklist can ensure you make the right decision and avoid making a purchase fuelled by emotions. 

You need to consider many factors before negotiating with a seller to buy their house; Not being organized and in tune with what you need may lead you to make a rash decision.

The following house-hunting checklist will guide you in ensuring that your new property purchase goes smoothly.

What is a house-hunting checklist?

House-hunting checklists are designed to help you find a house that can meet your needs and keep you organized throughout the house hunting process. In addition, it can help find specific demands on property type or potential return on investment (ROI). Without a checklist for house-hunting, you risk wasting time viewing properties that aren’t fit for you. So before making an offer on a property, you can clarify with your house-hunting checklist to ensure that it will serve your intended goals. There’s no point in wasting time and money on a house that doesn’t accommodate your needs, or worse, one that might cause you problems later! 

Why use a house-hunting checklist?

So why should you use a house-hunting checklist? For one thing, you’ll end up with a property that comes with no hidden surprises. Anything you want to avoid will already have been on the property hunting checklist, ensuring that you can spend some time considering if it is a deal breaker, even before you initiate closing. 

Speaking of time, you’ll be saving bags of it. Not only will your meetings with real estate agents go far smoother, but you can also quickly rule out properties with a glance at the details.

If you’re looking at purchasing a property in a broad area, there’ll be many listings put forward, which can get overwhelming. You’ll also be well aware of all the stages of purchasing a house and the home buying process, so you can be better prepared and avoid any unexpected delays. 

Additionally, a house-hunting checklist can save you money. You’ll know exactly what you want and what it’s worth so that you won’t be caught off guard during negotiations resulting in an impulse buy. This applies to both property sale prices and additional costs such as taxes. 

Impulse and emotions are essential to control, especially when making an expensive financial decision. A house-hunting checklist can ensure that you only purchase something that meets your needs and demands, keeping you in check from making any decisions you may regret later.

What should be on a house-hunting checklist?

What goes on a house-hunting checklist will differ from person to person. However, there are some aspects that anyone buying a home will want to make a note of. This can range from property type to the number of bedrooms. You’ll also want to consider additional amenities and neighborhoods if you are planning to live at the property. If you are purchasing the property as an investment, your house-hunting checklist should also feature questions about recent renovations, taxes, and perhaps rental yield. 

You may even consider adding sections on your house-hunting checklist which are non-negotiable or deal-breakers. This can ensure that the property search can be narrowed down to aid in finding the right property. 

Personalizing a house-hunting checklist

Personalizing your house-hunting checklist will make you more organized. As mentioned above, identifying your goals and reasons for purchasing a property will allow you to make decisions efficiently. For example, if the property will be your family residence, then factors such as neighborhood and access to schools will be crucial. However, if you’re looking at making a property investment, then opportunities for renovation and lower costs will fuel your decision.

Spend some time identifying those reasons, and then you can begin creating a personalized house-hunting checklist.

What to include on a house-hunting checklist?

Determine home affordability

Home affordability house hunting checklist
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You should identify how much you have available to spend on a property. Then, consider all financing aspects, including mortgages, closing costs, and property taxes. Ensure that you make a note of all of these for future reference.


Neighborhood - house-hunting checklist
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Before you even begin describing your ideal property, the house-hunting checklist should include the perfect neighborhood. This is important for both property investors and for home buyers to consider. An unsafe neighborhood can mean families are less likely to want to stay in the area. Look into the statistics of the area and use that to help make a decision. Here at Citytistics, we provide similar information on all of the cities in the United States, be sure to use those to help you make decisions. Additionally, you can speak to neighbors of the property and even the seller to gauge potential issues. 

Type of property

Property Type - house-hunting checklist
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Next, identify the type of property you need. That can range from a single-family house to a condo or duplex. Whatever the case, if the type of apartment is important to you, you will want to make a note to narrow down potential search listings. For property investors, the kind of property may not be as important as the potential for ROI; therefore, you can choose to ignore this aspect. 


Home-interior house-hunting checklist
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Another important section to include in your house-hunting checklist is the specifications of the interior. Here are a few examples of things to consider:

  • The number of bedrooms – If you’re purchasing a property for a family, having space is probably one of the main reasons you may be moving. This may mean that the number of bedrooms may be one of the top things to consider on your house-hunting checklist.
  • Condition – You will also want to look at how well the interior has been maintained. If the bathroom or kitchen needs remodeling, this can cost you more money. However, for property investors, opportunities to improve may be exactly what they’re looking for, and poor conditions may be the factor that’s important to allow negotiation room.


House-exterior home hunting checklist
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The next section of your house-hunting checklist should consider the exterior of your ideal property. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Is there a garage? – Garages are known to provide a higher ROI when selling. It’s obvious to see why as your vehicle can be stored safely and securely. It’s also the convenience factor for families, which may make having a garage incredibly important.
  • Is there a pool? – Having a pool can also increase ROI. It may also be one of the main amenities you’d like at your new property. This may be another factor to include in your house-hunting checklist.
  • Is there a yard? – While there are many reasons why you may want a yard, if it is important to you then it should go on your house-hunting checklist. It’s a given. You also want to look at the condition and whether any additional work will have to be completed. This may help you when comparing very similar properties. 

School Districts

school district - home-hunting checklist
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If you are purchasing a property and you have a family, then being able to send your children to good schools will be of importance. Make sure to compare different areas and have it on your house-hunting checklist. Likewise, for property investors, purchasing a property in a good school district will be something that buyers will be looking for at a later stage. 

Home buying process

Home buying process - house-hunting checklist
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You may also choose to include an overview of the home buying process. It can help you remember to crucial things, such as getting a home inspection booked or to keep your mortgage preapproval letter safe. Whatever it is that you need to remember, make sure you include them. This will all help in creating a helpful checklist.

Questions to ask when buying a house

Before a property, these are some questions that you should ask:

What is the risk of a natural disaster?

Having the answer to this question will allow you to make an informed decision on purchasing insurance to get yourself covered. You may even decide that you do not want to take the risk, especially when you consider issues such as the property being in a high-risk flood zone.

What’s included in the sale?

If you’re moving, you may need to purchase new appliances, such as a washing machine. Often, sellers may be willing to leave behind those appliances, saving you time. 

How much do homes sell for in the area?

It’s important to be aware of the comparables and to understand the market. By being aware of the market, you can ensure you’re not overpaying and getting a good deal.

How long has the property been on the market?

 This is an excellent question to ask as, if a property has been on the market long, it can mean there are underlying issues. Of course, it’s not always the case, but it can be a pointer for some extra due diligence. 

Questions to ask when viewing a property

When you go to property viewings, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Communication with the seller may help you to make a more informed decision. Here are some examples of questions that can prove fruitful when viewing a property:

Why is the seller moving?

This is another excellent question to ask the seller when buying a property. If the seller needs a quick sale, then you are in a position to offer a price that is more likely to be accepted if there is no competition. However, there may be underlying issues with the property or area, which may be a potential reason the seller is moving. This allows you to conduct extra due diligence to ensure that you’re making the right decision.

Have any recent renovations been carried out?

Recent renovations can add value to a property. It means you can save money from having to complete those renovations yourself. Whilst also benefiting if you decide to sell in the future. By being aware of these, you can save time and money knowing you’re getting a good deal.

How old is the roof?

Another great question to ask a seller is regarding the roof’s age. Roof repairs and maintenance can be costly. If it is an old roof, costly repairs may be required soon. Through being aware of this, you can bring this up during negotiations to reduce the price. 

How old are the heating and cooling systems?

Another great question as repairs and new systems can be costly. Additionally, it can give you an insight into whether the seller has maintained these essential appliances. You may need to factor in repairs and maintenance on the systems shortly, the costs of which can add up. 

Any problems with the house?

Whilst this is a broad question, it is important to know these things. The last thing you want to do is purchase a property and not be aware of any underlying issues. You’ll also be in a better position when you negotiate for the property. Although a home appraisal and inspection would also point out any issues, being aware of them before you make an offer is much better. 

What should you not do when house hunting?

You should not purchase the first property that you see. It would help if you took some time to view similar properties to make sure that it is the right call. You don’t want to be ruled by emotions when making an important financial decision. Take the time to reflect and think things over before making the call. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is to stick to your budget. Make sure you calculate all the costs involved with closing on a property. Ensure that you can afford it as you don’t want to lose out on a good offer. 

Do not rush into things. If the real estate market is particularly volatile, it is perfectly normal to feel some FOMO. But make sure that you’re well aware of what you’re getting into and that any positives will outweigh the negatives. 

Compare the property to your house-hunting checklist.

How does the property compare with the factors that you initially set out to look for? If you are comparing very similar properties, this step will allow you to weigh up the pros and cons. Additionally, the house-hunting checklist will have already helped identify your needs in the property. Make sure you can justify that the property will meet all of those needs and if they don’t, then you should be able to state why it is still a good decision. 

Bottom Line

Having a house-hunting checklist to guide you when looking for a property can save you lots of time, money, and stress. By sitting down ahead of time to identify your most important needs and wants, the house-hunting process can be easy. Following some of the ideas mentioned in this article will help you to create the perfect house hunting checklist.

Be sure to check out the rest of our site for even more interesting and informative articles to help you get an insight into what’s on offer across the cities of America.


Citytistics is the leading website for city data and insights for cities in America. Our goal is to help you find the right place to live, work, and play. We provide cost of living, crime rates, and happiness levels for cities across the United States. Whether you are looking to move to a new city or just want to learn more about your current city, Citytistics has the information you need!

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