7 steps to buying a house

Check these items off your list as you go through the home-buying process.
1. Decide if you’re ready to buy.
How long will you be in your current location? Do you want the responsibility of maintenance that owning your own home brings?
2. Hire a real estate agent.
They can help you understand the process, provide you with invaluable information and help negotiate your deal.
3. Determine your down payment.
You don’t have to put 20% down, but a higher down payment usually means a lower monthly payment.
4. Figure out your budget.
How much can you afford to spend on non-mortgage costs, such as utilities, insurance and lawn care?
5. Consider getting prequalified and then later preapproved for a mortgage.
These steps allow you to understand how large a mortgage you can obtain and can make your offer more attractive to sellers. Don’t forget to shop around to find the most competitive mortgage rates.
6. Re-evaluate.
If your numbers weren’t as good as you were hoping for, would you be better suited to save for a while and then see if you’re in better shape?
7. Get a home inspection.
Once you’ve made an offer that’s been accepted, have a professional make sure the house is still in good shape. You may be able to negotiate major repairs with the seller or pull out of the contract.