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Whether you're planning for retirement or just starting your financial planning, buying a home can impact your entire financial picture. Often times, families and individuals purchase in the summer--However, if you're trying to score a deal, winters can be a buyers market. Before taking the mortgage plunge, consider the following home-buying checklist. 

1. Have you gathered relevant personal information? 

2. Have you assessed your income, expenses, assets and liabilities? Your monthly budget? 

3. Has a real estate professional and closing attorney been contacted? Make sure to research the professionals you hire. The process is stressful and you want to move through it with someone who is competent and that you like. 

4. Have you compared the pros and cons of buying versus renting? 

5. Have you pulled your credit report? Make sure to report any errors before seeking financing. 

6. Do you have a sufficient down payment? If you have less than 20% to put down, review the need for private mortgage insurance. 

7. Have you gathered your financing documentation (tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, etc.)?

8. Are you pre-qualified or pre-approved for your mortgage amount? 

9. Did you compare the various mortgage rates and terms? 

10. Have you estimated the premiums for homeowners and/or flood insurance? 

If you run your own business out of your house, you may want to consider insurance for a home office. Disability, life and personal liability umbrella insurance can also be considered at this time. Consult with an insurance professional to see where your insurance gaps may be. 

Buying a home is a rite of passage for many people. Oftentimes, it's the biggest financial commitment people make. While it can be stressful, walking through this checklist will allow you to be more prepared when the right house comes along. Your financial plan will be in better shape, especially as you move towards retirement, the more you research prior to purchasing. 

Happy buying and good luck! 


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