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Mortgages: The basics

Buying a house is a complicated process. But, like most big tasks, it's much easier to understand -- and accomplish -- if you break it down into smaller chunks.

That's what we've done here. We start with the three phases of getting a mortgage for a house: First, figuring out what kind of mortgage you want, determining how much you can afford and anticipating what other steps are involved; second, learning how to shop for a mortgage and deal with lenders and loan brokers; and third, determining what's involved in finalizing the deal.

These phases are, in turn, broken down into the individual steps you'll need to understand and complete to find yourself a fair deal on a loan.

The links in each section allow you to pick and choose your topics, letting you go in order or jump ahead, if need be. If you want to go into depth on a topic, take a look in our archive of detailed mortgage features. In addition, you can stay up-to-date with the weekly mortgage features and rate columns at Bankrate.com by visiting our mortgage home page.

Mortgages: The Basics, Part I: Starting out
Mortgages: The Basics, Part II: Securing your loan
Mortgages: The Basics, Part III: Closing the deal

30 yr fixed mtg 3.93%
48 month new car loan 3.22%
1 yr CD 0.71%

More good stuff
Mortgage glossary
Mortgage calculator
Track prime rate/other leading rate indexes
Federal Reserve Board coverage
Need a home equity loan?
Have less-than-perfect credit?
Foreclosure finder -- search database of foreclosed homes
Our printable checklist guides you through the process.
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