Real Estate for Consumers

If You’re Buying

If you’re looking for a home, and you have found something in your price range, there is typically no reason to wait – assuming you have done your research ahead of time. Below you’ll find a check list of tasks for prospective home buyers at all phases in the home purchasing process.

1.  Organize Your Finances

  • Before you apply for a mortgage, get a free copy of your credit report by following these steps outlined by the Federal Trade Commission.  
  • You have a better chance of getting your offer on a home accepted if you have pre-approval for your mortgage from a lender. Your lender will tell you how much you can afford, what the monthly payment will be, and what the anticipated closing costs will be. Speak with several lenders before choosing one, so you can compare costs and fees.
  • Make sure you have a budget. Once you know how much you can afford, you can decide how much to spend. Remember additional expenses such as repairs, furnishings, real estate taxes and maintenance. A budget will help you be realistic.

2.  Hire a Licensed Real Estate Broker or Real Estate Salesperson as your “Buyers Agent”

  • Your "Buyer's agent" will represent you in your home buying process. They will search listings for you, make appointments, conduct research, and walk you through the entire process of buying a home. Buyer’s agents also have current real estate listings and sales data to help you avoid overspending.
  • The law requires that a written buyer agency agreement be entered into before the licensee can physically show you a property or ask you to disclose confidential information, such as your financial status.
  • It is important that you completely review the terms of the buyer agency agreement before signing, and negotiate the best terms for you. You may enter into an agreement for simply on home, one day, one week, or longer. All terms are negotiable. 
  • You can verify credentials by visiting
  • Look at these additional pointers for Working with a Buyer’s Agent.

3. Make a Shopping List

  • Most people have an idea of what kind of house they would like, and where they want to live based on factors like commute to work, school districts, size of your home, and price of your home. Make sure you consider all these factors, and make a list of what you’re looking for with your buyer’s agent in order to make your search as efficient as possible.

4.  Hire a Licensed Home Inspector

  • Once you've found a home you like, you should bring in an objective professional home inspector to check the condition of the property before you buy, and give you a detailed report highlighting any defects. If expensive defects are found, you may be able to negotiate repairs or a price reduction. Having a home inspection will give you the most accurate picture of the home’s condition and help you to make an informed decision.

5.  Before Closing, Do a Final Walk-Through

  • The walk-through just before the closing gives you one last look at the property you're buying to be sure it's in the condition you want and expect. If there are any problems, it's better to know them before you close rather than after, so you have the opportunity to address these issues with the seller.
  • If you need to file a complaint, or need to apply for the Real Estate Guaranty Fund, you can visit our page with details on those processes.

If You’re Selling

  • Selling your home is an important decision, and often times means taking a serious look at your finances, and thinking about additional home improvement projects. Follow the checklist and links below to help you with the process.

1.  Organize Your Finances

  • Make sure you know where you stand financially before selling your home. Our homes are our largest financial asset, so it’s important you have a whole picture. You can start by checking your credit report using these steps outlined by the Federal Trade Commission.    

2. Finish up any Repairs or Projects

  • Make sure you finish up any home improvement projects so that you house is as it will be when you sell.
  • When hiring someone to do work on your home, always make sure they are a registered Home Improvement Contractor by verifying at, and always make sure you have a signed contract so you’re both clear on your agreement.

3.  Hire a Licensed Real Estate Broker or Real Estate Salesperson as your “Seller’s Agent”

  • Your "Seller's agent" will make schedule walk through appointments, list your home, and meet with prospective buyers.
  • Your “Seller’s Agent” will also help you figure out how much money you can get for your home.
  • Know that all seller’s commission is negotiable, and you should make sure you’re comfortable with the terms of your agreement before you move forward.
  • You can verify credentials by visiting
  • Look at these additional pointers for Working with a Seller’s Agent.

4. Fill Out the Residential Property Disclosure From