|Buying a house
is probably the single, biggest purchase you will make in your life.
Most likely you will have to borrow the money from a bank or other
financial institution by getting a mortgage -- a long-term
loan secured by the property you purchase.
Shopping for a house is taking
the first step toward fulfilling the American dream of owning your
own home. Homeownership is so American you can even deduct the
mortgage interest on your federal income tax. But remember: Until
the mortgage is paid off -- up to 30 years -- the bank owns the
house, not you, so look before you leap into that dream home.
The process of buying a home can be manageable and
successful if you know what to look for at each stage. Heres
what to look for in the first stage, before starting out on the
house hunt. We'll begin with: How