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!

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 below can help, but it is best to visit a lender to find out for sure.

Need help with your downpayment and/or closing costs? A housing counselor can help you figure out how to manage and pay off your debt, and start saving for that down payment!

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.

  • Looking for the best mortgage: shop, compare, negotiate – brochure
  • Let FHA help you

Step 4: Learn about homebuying programs

FHA loan programs offer lower down payments and are a good option for first-time home buyers.

Let FHA help you

  • HUD’s special homebuying programs
  • Good Neighbor Next Door Program – for police officers, teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians
  • Homeownership for public housing residents
  • Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program (Section 184)

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.

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!