Quick Takeaways

  • Understand what you can afford
  • Down payments and PMI
  • Find your team
  • Find the right home
  • Work with your lender
  • Make your offer
  • Inspection and appraisal

Source: Buying a Home (FreddieMac, 2021)

There are many financial obligations beyond the down payment when buying a house. Acquaint yourself with the fees associated with the process, as well as the state of the housing market in your area.

Take proactive steps to build and protect your credit. Determine your budget ahead of time using tools such as online calculators and balance sheets. Evaluate your need for a real estate attorney depending on the situation and state in which you live. Learn the value of enlisting a real estate professional to help you through the process.

See References for more information.


NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.

Things to Consider When Buying a Home

Fees You Need to Know About Before Buying a Home (the balance, Aug. 19, 2021)

Some fees must be paid up front and require careful planning and budgeting before your home purchase. Other fees can be rolled into your home loan and paid as part of your mortgage payment. Understanding both sets of fees is critical to ensuring a successful, affordable home purchase. Use this guide to understand better the fees you’ll incur as you go about purchasing a home.

Buying a House in 2021: What to Expect (nerdwallet, Aug. 6, 2021)

Buyers outpacing inventory, home prices increasing, mortgage rates rising, digital tools available to make homebuying easier, and lender shopping remains critical.

What It Really Costs to Buy a Home (nerdwallet, Apr. 4, 2019)

One-time costs include the down payment and closing costs, and ongoing costs include mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowners and hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, HOA or co-op fees, utilities and maintenance.

Establishing Credit

How Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate (nerdwallet, Sep. 15, 2020)

Credit scores directly impact mortgage interest rates. A difference of just 100 points could cost, or save, you thousands.

Protect Your Credit (REALTOR® Party, June 2020)

Protect Your Credit explains the provisions implemented by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to protect consumers’ credit scores. The guide outlines consumers’ rights under the CARES Act, explains how to obtain a free credit report, and offers guidance on how to dispute inaccurate credit information.

FHA Requirements: Credit Guidelines (Federal Housing Authority)

FHA requirements are structured so that loan applicants who have a good credit history will likely be eligible for the mortgage. Late payments, bankruptcies, no credit history, and foreclosures will adversely affect your chances.

Fixing Your Credit FAQs (Federal Trade Commission)

Understand your credit score, learn how to access free credit reports, how to repair your credit, and how to avoid and report credit repair scammers.

Credit Reports and Scores (USA.gov)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing financial hardships. To remain in control of your finances, you can get free credit reports every week through April 2022.

Determining​ Your Budget

The Essential Guide to Creating a Homebuying Budget (FreddieMac, Apr. 12, 2021)

This article will help you understand the costs of buying, owning and maintaining your home, and how you can budget accordingly.

How to Set a Budget for Buying Your First Home (Investopedia, Feb. 20, 2021)

What you can buy and what you can afford are two different things.

A Guide to Managing Personal Finances During the COVID-19 Crisis (Bankrate, Jun. 4, 2020)

Use these tips to be a better money manager, whether you have a stable income or are dealing with financial hardship.

Calculators (Freddie Mac)

These calculators are intended to provide guidance and financial estimates.

Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

What Is a Real Estate Attorney, and Do You Need One? (nerdwallet, Apr. 6, 2021)

Your decision to hire a real estate attorney will likely depend on where in the U.S. you're trying to buy property. States vary in what they consider to be the "practice of law," so what's fine for a real estate agent or notary to take care of in one state might require an attorney in another.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Buy a House? (Investopedia, Sep. 12, 2020)

  • It's often worth it to spend money on a real estate attorney, but it is not legally required in most states.
  • Attorneys make sure all paperwork is properly drawn up and filed with the authorities.
  • Attorneys do title searches and can negotiate should a search uncover a problem.
  • Ideally, buyers and sellers in a real estate deal should be represented by lawyers to safeguard their rights and watch their interests.
  • While lawyers can help if you face discrimination when buying a home, there are also less expensive options.

Why You Need a Lawyer When You Buy or Sell a House (FindLaw)

Buying a home will probably be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. It also involves the law of real property, which is unique and raises special legal issues and problems not present in other transactions. A real estate lawyer is trained to handle these problems and has the most experience to deal with them.

What You Can Expect From Your REALTOR®

Daily Responsibilities in the Life of a Real Estate Agent (the balance, Nov. 24, 2019)

Outlines the daily activities of real estate agents, including but not limited to, getting, keeping, and servicing listings, marketing, communicating with clients, potential clients, and contractors, and continuing education in the real estate field.

How Realtors Help You (Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS®)

Lists 185 things REALTORS® do for their clients over the course of a real estate transaction.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR® (REALTOR® Magazine)

A script that consumers can use to interview and evaluate potential buyer and seller agents before hiring a real estate professional.

The Home Inspection

More Buyers Are Skipping Home Inspections. Tales of Bats, Termites and Asbestos Should Make You Think Twice (Money, Oct. 27, 2021)

“In most transactions, a buyer includes what’s called an inspection contingency in their sales contract. This allows them to get a professional inspection of the property — within a certain number of days — and then renegotiate based on the inspector’s findings. Waiving that contingency can have grave consequences, though. “The dangers are you may buy a home that is not in great shape, has some structural issues or, worse, has some safety issues,” says Christopher Arienti, broker/owner at RE/MAX Executive Realty in Franklin, Mass.”

Frequently Asked Questions on Home Inspections (American Society of Home Inspectors)

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation. The standard home inspector's report will cover the condition of the home's heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing system; electrical system; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and structural components. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement.

Ten Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

What does your inspection cover? How long have you been practicing in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed? Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection? Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection? How long will the inspection take? How much will it cost? What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report? Will I be able to attend the inspection? Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association? Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?

Making an Offer

How Much to Offer on a House: Should You Go Below or Above Asking Price? (realtor.com®, Sep. 27, 2021)

“To help out, here’s a guide on some questions to ask yourself to figure out how much to offer on a house so you can land on the perfect offer price—from how much to offer on a house to how much you can negotiate on a house.”

Making an Offer on a House: How to Lowball and Negotiate Like a Pro (realtor.com®, Aug. 18, 2019)

Stay aware of current market conditions. Be respectful of sellers. Have your agent contact the listing agent. Have your financing in order. Eliminate as many contingencies as possible.

Making an Offer on a House (FindLaw)

“Buying a house can be a stressful and time-consuming experience, so here's a guide to help you decide how much to offer, whether you should add conditions to your offer, how to deal with multiple offers and how to respond to counter offers.”

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and How to Avoid Them) (eBook)

The Complete Book of Home Inspection (eBook)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying a Home (eBook)

Financing Your Condo, Co-Op, or Townhouse (eBook)

Home Buyer's Checklist (eBook)

Home Buying for Dummies (eBook)

Home Buying without the BS! (eBook)

How to Get the Best Home Loan (eBook)

The Mortgage Answer Book (eBook)

Mortgage Myths (eBook)

The Real Estate Process (eBook)

A Survival Guide for Buying a Home (eBook)

Tips & Traps When Buying a Home (eBook)

The Unofficial Guide to Buying a Home (eBook)

Have an idea for a real estate topic? Send us your suggestions.

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