a house is THE major investment that most people will make in their lifetime.
The process seems simple. Find the area you want to live in, get a real estate agent,
secure a mortgage, make a bid, close, and live happily ever after.
If you're buying your first home, it's
actually quite a bit more complicated than that. If you have children (or are planning on having children) you'll want to find out which areas have the best schools. Are there other children in the neighborhood around the same age? You'll also need to find out what the local taxes will add to your monthly payments. The best
schools normally mean the highest taxes.
Finding a house that meets your needs is just the first step. What do similar homes in the neighborhood sell for? What is the tax assessment? Those two figures will give you an idea of whether the sellers are asking a fair price for the real estate you want.
An earnest bid is the door to getting inspectors in — to find out if there are any structural problems like roof repairs, termite infestation, or lead paint that needs to be taken care of. Are the plumbing and electrical systems in good shape? Is there a septic system? Is it up to code or will repairs add thousands to your expenses in a year or so?
Home loans & mortgages
Once you have all of the information you need, you may decide that you are not willing to pay the price that you've bid. First, you'll want to make sure that you have a lawyer who has taken care of that contingency in the original agreement, or you may find yourself in
a position where backing out of the deal will be extremely expensive.
If you eventually find the house of your dreams, you'll need to shop for a mortgage to pay for the house. Higher interest rates and points can add tens of thousands to the cost of the house, so comparing lenders is essential.
Finally, don't wait for the bank to surprise you with issues about your credit rating. Before you approach
a bank, get a copy of your credit report to make sure that there are no outstanding debts.
The better your credit rating,
the more likely you'll get a good interest rate on your home loan.
Together with your lawyer and real estate agent you are now prepared to go to closing and get the house you want at a price that's fair.
how-to's on mortgage terms, inspections, the final walk-through & closing,
home insurance, real estate agents, and everything else you need to know to buy
the house of your dreams - with more tips on house repairs, lawn maintenance and
keeping your home energy efficient year round...
Buying a House - Legal Encyclopedia - Nolo - Get free legal advice with information on buying and selling, qualifying for a home loan, deeds, required disclosures, real estate agents, tax shelters, contracts FAQ, and lots more.
Considering a Home - Freddie Mac's extensive guide to house hunting features information on credit, mortgages, negotiations, insurance, plus a home buyer's glossary.
League of American Homeowners - California-based organization with articles on insurance, liens, contractors and other home owning and home buying concerns.
Energy Star - Energy efficient homes can save money in more ways than one. Check out facts, tips, advice and information on heating, air conditioning, insulation, duct work and more, with guides to energy management, suggested products and recommended manufacturers.
FCIC - Housing - The Federal Citizen Information Center offers brochures to read online or order on many home buying and ownership questions. Be sure to follow the links after the table.