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The Buying Process

The home buying process can seem complicated, but if you take things step-by-step, you will soon be holding the keys to your own home!

Nine steps to buying a home:

1. Figure out how much you can afford
2. Know your rights
3. Shop for a loan
4. Learn about homebuying programs
5. Shop for a home
6. Make an offer
7. Get a home inspection
8. Shop for homeowners insurance
9. Sign papers


Step 1: Figure out how much you can afford
What you can afford depends on your income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, down-payment and the interest rate. The calculators on the right of this page can help, but it is best to visit a lender to find out for sure.
Home Economics – brochure
Need help with your down-payment and/or closing costs?
Homebuying programs in your state
A housing counselor can help you figure out how to manage and pay off your debt, and start saving for that down-payment!
Find a housing counselor near you

Step 2: Know your rights
Fair Housing: Equal Opportunity for All – brochure
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
Mortgage Borrower’s rights
Predatory lending

Step 3: Shop for a loan
Save money by doing your homework. Talk to several lenders, compare costs and interest rates, negotiate to get a better deal. Consider getting pre-approved for a loan.
Looking for the best mortgage: shop, compare, negotiate – brochure
Let FHA help you
Why Ask for an FHA Loan?
Learn about interest only loans

Step 4: Learn about homebuying programs
Homebuying programs in your state
FHA loan programs offer lower down-payments and are a good option for first-time homebuyers.
Let FHA help you
Good Neighbor Next Door (formerly known as Teacher/Officer/Firefighter Next Door)
Homeownership for public housing residents
Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program

Step 5: Shop for a home
Choose a real estate agent
Wish list – what features do you want?
Home-shopping checklist – take this list with you when comparing homes.
Homes for sale (including HUD homes)
“Fixer-uppers” – home purchase and repair programs
Manufactured (mobile) homes
Build a home
If you choose a home in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association (HOA), be sure to request a copy of the HOA packet, so you can review before closing.

Step 6: Make an offer
Discuss the process with your real estate agent. If the seller counters your offer, you may need to negotiate until you both agree to the terms of the sale.

Step 7: Get a home inspection
Make your offer contingent on a home inspection. An inspection will tell you about the condition of the home, and can help you avoid buying a home that needs major repairs.
10 Questions to ask a home inspector

Step 8: Shop for homeowners insurance
Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance. Be sure to shop around.
Homeowners insurance
12 ways to lower your homeowners insurance costs

Step 9: Sign papers
You’re finally ready to go to “settlement” or “closing.” Be sure to read everything before you sign!