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Read e-book The Short Complete Guide to Buying a Home

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This is a chaotic time with offers and counter-offers flying furiously, but if you are prepared for the hassle and the paperwork , you can get through the process with your sanity more or less intact. Here is the basic progression you can expect:. Make sure to take advantage of all the available options for finding homes on the market, including using your real estate agent , searching for listings online and driving around the neighborhoods that interest you in search of for-sale signs.

Also put some feelers out there with your friends, family and business contacts. You never know where a good reference or lead on a home might come from.

14 Steps To Buying A House - A Complete Guide For Home Buyers

Once you're seriously shopping for a home, don't walk into an open house without having an agent or at least being prepared to throw out a name of someone you're supposedly working with. You can see how it might not work in your best interest to start dealing with a seller's agent before contacting one of your own. If you're on a budget, look for homes whose full potential has yet to be realized. Even if you can't afford to replace the hideous wallpaper in the bathroom now, it might be worth it to live with the ugliness for a while in exchange for getting into a house you can afford.

If the home otherwise meets your needs in terms of the big things that are difficult to change, such as location and size, don't let physical imperfections turn you away. First-time homebuyers should look for a house they can add value to, as this ensures a bump in equity to help them up the property ladder. First-time homebuyers have a wide variety of options to help them get into a home — both those available to any purchaser, including Federal Housing Authority FHA -backed mortgage s, and those geared especially to neophytes. Look to your IRA. For the purposes of the IRA distributions, a first-time home buyer is anyone who hasn't owned a present interest in a primary residence mobile homes and house trailers, houseboats and stock held by a tenant-stockholder in a cooperative housing corporation for the previous two years.

Illinois, Ohio and Washington —offer down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers who qualify. Typically, eligibility in these programs is based on income and may also have limits on how expensive a property can be purchased. Those who qualify may be able to receive financial assistance with down payments and closing costs as well as expenses to rehab or improve a property.

Buying a House in the UK

Know about Native American options. Native American first-time homebuyers can apply for a Section loan. This loan requires a 1. Section loans can only be used for single family homes units and for a primary residence. Shop around, even if you only qualify for one type of loan. Fees can be surprisingly varied, as can mortgage interest rates, which of course have a major impact on the total price you pay for your home.

Some authorities also recommend you have a back-up lender. Underwriting guidelines shift, lender risk-analysis changes and investor markets can alter. There can be cases of clients signing loan and escrow documents, and then being notified 24 to 48 hours before the closing that the lender froze funding on their loan program. Having a second lender that has already qualified you for a mortgage gives you an alternate way to keep the process on, or close to, schedule.

Your real estate agent will help you decide how much money you want to offer for the house along with any conditions you want to ask for. Your agent will then present the offer to the seller 's agent; the seller will either accept your offer or issue a counter-offer. You can then accept, or continue to go back and forth until you either reach a deal or decide to call it quits.

Before submitting your offer, take another look at your budget. It is easy to be ambushed by higher or unexpected utilities costs in your new larger home. You might request the energy bills from the past 12 months to get an idea of the average monthly cost. If you reach an agreement, you'll make a good-faith deposit and the process then transitions into escrow. Escrow is a short period of time often about 30 days where the seller takes the house off the market with the contractual expectation that you will buy the house — provided you don't find any serious problems with it when you inspect it.

Even if the home you plan to purchase appears to be flawless, there's no substitute for having a trained professional inspect the property for the quality, safety and overall condition of your potential new home. You don't want to get stuck with a money pit or with the headache of performing a lot of unexpected repairs.

If the home inspection reveals serious defects that the seller did not disclose, you'll generally be able to rescind your offer and get your deposit back. Negotiating to have the seller make the repairs or discount the selling price are other options. If you're able to work out a deal with the seller, or better yet, if the inspection didn't reveal any significant problems, you should be ready to close. Closing basically involves signing a ton of paperwork in a very short time period, while praying that nothing falls through at the last minute.

Other closing costs can include loan-origination fees, title insurance , surveys, taxes and credit-report charges. You've signed the papers, paid the movers and the new place is starting to feel like home. Homeownership costs extend beyond down payments and monthly mortgage payments. With homeownership comes major unexpected expenses, like replacing the roof or getting a new water heater.


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Start an emergency fund for your home so that you won't be caught off-guard when these costs inevitably arise. With the large amount of money you're putting into your home, you'll want to make sure to take excellent care of it.


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Regular maintenance can decrease your repair costs by allowing problems to be fixed when they are small and manageable. It doesn't matter what your home is worth at any given moment except the moment when you sell it. Being able to choose when you sell your home, rather than being forced to sell it due to job relocation or financial distress , will be the biggest determinant of whether you will see a solid profit from your investment.

Even though you own a home, you should still continue to save the maximum in your retirement savings accounts each and every year. A home inspection is an examination of a home done by a home inspector to determine the condition of the home at the time of inspection. A home appraisal is an examination of the value of the property done by a real estate appraiser.

Who Is a First-Time Homebuyer?

An appraiser determines the monetary value of the property. You will need to pay for a home appraisal in order to provide your lender with the value of the property for which you are trying to purchase in order to get financing. Most documents will be signed by the seller and delivered to the buyer for your review.

There may be other documents included. The title company and escrow company will also send you documents to review. The title company will send you the title insurance commitment showing that the party who has title is in fact the seller, in addition to any liens on the title.


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You should review this document and so should your attorney if you have one. The escrow company will also review it to make sure it says what it should say. Getting title insurance is a standard step in the home-buying process. Your escrow or closing agent will typically help you get title insurance after the purchase agreement is signed. A home warranty includes basic coverage over certain things that may go wrong, such as plumbing, electrical, heating, and major appliances.

The warranty is for a certain amount of time like one year and you have to pay for it up front if you want it. Closing costs are fees paid at the closing of the transaction. Closing costs can be paid by the buyer or seller and they can be part of the negotiation process. When you get a mortgage, your lender may require you to set up an escrow account.

An Overview of Buying a Home: The Story of a Seller, a Buyer, and a Lender

A monthly escrow amount is added to your mortgage payment. The escrow payments goes toward real property taxes and insurance that you would otherwise have to pay once or twice a year. This escrow payment is above the principal and interest portion of the mortgage payment and is required. Most lenders require you to have homeowners insurance in place in order to obtain a mortgage; however, it is not required by law. Property tax can be very costly, depending on where you live.

Property tax payments are usually due annually, but more often than not, they are divided into and included in your monthly escrow payment. Take all of this with a grain of salt. Natalie designed her dream life, and her goal is to help you design yours. Even on just a financial level, there are so many hidden costs of buying a house and of owning a home. I own a home and certainly am not opposed to home ownership, but as you said, it really helps to be informed and many first-time buyers lack information. So thanks for sharing this. Kalie Pretend to Be Poor recently posted… Review: Simple Living in Light of Eternity Seminar.

We went through all this recently when we sold our home and bought a new one, although not our first home. Shannon The Heavy Purse recently posted… Part 2: This is an amazing resource Natalie! I love the flow chart! The biggest piece of advice I always give to first time home buyers is to over prepare for as much cash as you will need for the whole process. Also, no matter how great your home inspector, there always seems to be issues that pop up after you move in that you were not planning on.

Thanks for that tip. Excellent post, and an important one for any homeowner who is looking for some background info before jumping into buying a home. We bought our house a little less than 3 years ago and I definitely wish I had learned more before jumping in. And when people compare rent to mortgage, they forget to factor in things like utilities, which their apartment complex probably covers at least part of. When we moved in, we were in for a nasty surprise — especially with a poorly insulated house in Phoenix. The bank will often offer lower rates to people who went.

I guess because they assume informed buyers are less of a risk. But point being, even a quarter or half a percent makes a huge difference over years. Abigail recently posted… New number, who dis?

Your Guide to Buying a House

I would never buy a house without a real estate agent…well without a good one anyway. Amazing resource Natalie, and I love that you made a flowchart to go with it! Thanks for the guide to buying a home! I like that you said that you should look into hiring a real estate agent before you do anything else. They will probably be able to guide you through the process and make everything easier. This is an awesome post! How long have you been a homeowner for? Prior to purchasing my first house I read your post and it gave me a lot of comfort. This is a nice little glossary of terms and home-buying guide for those of us lost in the process.

You wrote that you should have a home inspection done before you make a final decision on buying the home. My friend and his wife are planning on buying their first home this year and I thought they could probably benefit from some tips. Once they find a home they like, they could check it for problems as that could save them money in the future. My husband and I would love to buy our first house before we start having children. Thanks for the great tips! My wife and I have decided to stop renting and get our own place.

Especially that our baby boy is coming. Indeed, the first try is always the most daunting one. Whether it be as simple as driving your first car to as big as buying your own place. I agree that flexibility could always benefit you as a buyer. And lastly, being prepared is the best thing you could do. Thanks for the great read! My wife and I have been looking at moving into our first home together to start a family together since our apartment is too small for one.

I better make sure to have a Realtor to help me get one of these after the agreement signing. My fiance and I are to move soon, so these tips will be very handy especially the ones in the home warranties and other papers. Thanks for the timely guideline on how to purchase a home for the first time! Thanks for the advice about not comparing rent to a mortgage payment.