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Buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make, so you need to get it right. One of the best ways to track your progress and be sure you stay on track is to keep a checklist of what you need to have to make it happen.

Of course you must know you’ll have enough money to pay monthly mortgage payments. If it’s going to be hard to make those payments and you end up with nothing at the end of the month, you may soon be sorry you made such a huge commitment.

Know your credit history and rating. If you’ve ever declared bankruptcy, are consistently late with payments or have many unpaid debts on your record, it may be more difficult to get a mortgage – or have to pay an outrageous interest rate.

You’ll also need to figure in property taxes and homeowner’s insurance payments that you will have to pay each month. Keeping a home in good repair is sometimes costly, so you must have the necessary income to fix things that break or don’t work properly.

Find a qualified house inspector and attend the inspection so you can ask questions and be better informed. It’s going to cost a bit depending on the size of the home, but it’s well worth the investment and peace of mind.

After the inspection, find a qualified repair person that will give you a written estimate for the needed repairs. Have your real estate agent submit the needed repairs and estimate to the seller and let him decide if he wants to do the repairs or lower the price of the house to fit the estimated costs.

Get at least three interest rate quotes from mortgage bankers or brokers. Then, consult with your lender to see if you can pay points to lower the rate. Many banks approve of paying up front to get the interest rate lowered, but you may have to pay quite a bit for it to be approved.

Bid smart based on prices of comparable homes in the area (recently sold). Begin a bit lower than those prices so there is room for negotiation. If you want to see if the seller will include some furnishings with the price, let him know at this time.

After your offer is accepted you’re ready for the final checklist when you conduct the final walk-through. You should check all appliances to make sure they’re in working order.

Be sure to plug something in to outlets to check for shorts and other electrical problems. Checking smoke detectors should also be on your checklist – and be sure to turn on both the heat and the air conditioner.

Turn on the faucets and flush the toilets, look for signs of pests, standing water or mold on ceilings. If there is anything that doesn’t work, is broken or missing from the home, be sure to let it be known during the final walk-through.

And last on your checklist – sign the contract. You’re then ready to move in and enjoy the next phase of life in your new home.