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A Guide to Buying a Home
The homebuying 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, downpayment and the interest rate. The calculators below can help, but it is best to visit a lender to find out for sure.

How much home can you afford?
Buying vs. Renting
Need help with your downpayment and/or closing costs?

Step 2: Know your rights

Fair Housing: Equal Opportunity for All - brochure
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
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.

Step 4: Learn about homebuying programs

Homebuying programs in your state
FHA loan programs offer lower downpayments and are a good option for first-time homebuyers.

Let FHA help you
HUD's special homebuying programs
Good Neighbor Next Door (formerly known as Teacher/Officer/Firefighter Next Door)

Step 5: Shop for a home

Choose a real estate agent
Wish list - what features do you want?
Decide what type of home is best for you:
"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.

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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. This is where a realtor is very helpful.

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.

Step 8: Shop for homeowners insurance

Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance. Be sure to shop around.

Step 9: Sign papers

You're finally ready to go to "settlement" or "closing." Be sure to read everything before you sign!

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