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  Buying a Home

Prepare to Buy
First Home
Buyer's Checklist
Condo / Co-op
Common Mistakes
Picking a Home
R.E. Taxes
Inspecting






Preparing for Homeownership

1. Decide how much home you can afford.

2. Develop a wish list of what you'd like your home to have. Then prioritize the features on your list.

3. Select three or four neighborhoods you'd like to live in. Consider items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

4. Determine if you have enough saved to cover your downpayment and closing costs. Closing costs, including taxes, attorney's fee, and transfer fees average between 2 percent and 7 percent of the home price.

5. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report.

6. Determine how large a mortgage you can qualify for. Also explore different loans options and decide what's best for you.

7. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan.

8. Do research to determine if you qualify for any special mortgage or downpayment-assistance programs.

9. Calculate the costs of homeownership, including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and association fees, if applicable.

10. Find an experienced Realtor who can help you through the process.


Getting Started

Increase your chances of getting your dream house instead of losing it to another buyer, with these easy steps.

1. Get prequalified for a mortgage. You'll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and make your offer more desirable to the seller.

2. Stay in close touch with your real estate sales associate to find out first about new listings that come on the market. And be ready to go see a house as soon as it goes on the market.

3. Scout out new listings yourself. Look at Internet sites, newspaper ads, and drive by the neighborhood frequently. Maybe you'll see a brand-new "for sale" sign before anyone else.

4. Be ready to make a decision. Spend lots of time in advance deciding what you must have so you won't be unsure when you have the chance to make an offer.

5. Bid competitively. You may not want to start out offering the absolute highest price you can afford, but don't try to go too low to get a deal. In a tight market, you'll lose out.

6. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you'll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

7. Don't get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there's competition doesn't mean you should just buy anything. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don't neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.