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If you're harboring notions of joining the house-hunting horde this year first take a swing through the neighborhood we call Bankrate's 2004 Home Buyer's Guide for a look at the entire home-buying process -- from preliminary preparations to leaving the closing table with a new deed in your hands.
First steps

How much house can you afford? -- Let us help you do the math by figuring your housing expenses against your income.

Get preapproved, not simply prequalified -- It makes things easier for both you and the seller.

FSBO or agent? -- Examine the pros and cons of selling or buying a home without a real estate agent.

More First steps stories

Home Buyer's Guide
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30 yr fixed mtg 3.83%
15 yr fixed mtg 2.94%
5/1 jumbo ARM 3.57%
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How much house can you afford?
Calculate your monthly mortgage payment

Beat the down payment blues -- See the rate you want, but don't have the cash you need? Don't despair. There are plenty of ways to find help.

Types of mortgages: fixed vs. adjustable -- Should you take advantage of the low interest rates offered with adjustable rate mortgages or go for the security of a fixed rate? Take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Alternative ways to finance -- Choices for borrowers expand to include zero-down, portable, interest only, hybrid and no-interest piggyback loans.

More Financing stories


What to look for inside and out -- Don't fret about the colors. There are more important things to examine.

10 biggest mistakes of home buyers -- A veteran home builder gives some tips on what NOT to do when buying a home.

How to find comparables -- A little research can help you find the right price, if you know where to look.

More Shopping stories

Contract to closing

What happens at closing -- What you can expect at a real estate closing, from setting the date to signing papers and potential last-minute hurdles.

When appraisals go bad -- What do you do when the appraisal doesn't meet the sales price? It can happen, and it can foul up a deal.

Understanding closing costs -- Typical closing costs run from 3 to 5 percent of your loan amount. Here's what to expect. .

More Contract to closing stories

First-time home buyer

Are you ready for a mortgage? -- Before you buy, check your understanding on how mortgages work with this quiz.

Tips for the first-time home buyer (FTHB) -- You may be a rookie, but you don't have to act that way.

New house vs. buying used -- Each approach has both pros and cons.

More First-time home buyer stories


24 moving mistakes you can avoid -- Learn from others who've been there before and don't make these relocation blunders.

Go with a pro or no? -- Should you rent a truck and move yourself or hire a company to haul your belongings to the next abode? What to weigh when deciding between the two options.

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