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Doing it right the first time -- Buying a home can be a daunting experience -- even for a savvy veteran. When it comes to a first time home buyer, it's downright scary. It can keep you awake all night. There's a whole new language to learn and your personal financial life is hanging out for a bunch of strangers to examine and rule on. It's confusing and intricate with a million things to remember and follow up on. Not to mention the basic underlying questions: Is this house really worth the money? Will the value go up or down? Am I buying in the right neighborhood? What if the house falls down soon after I buy it? Am I doing the right thing? Should I just rent for another year? In the light of day, however, it's a business transaction that thousands go through every day. If they can do it, so can you. Here's a little help.
Home Buyer's Guide
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First-time home buyers

Deciding to take the plunge
Should you buy or keep renting? -- Not easy to answer. Emotions, family and personal considerations always come into play.

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

Understanding credit -- How your credit score impacts your home-buying ability and how you can improve it.

Are you a candidate for pre-purchase counseling? -- Pre-purchase counseling for inexperienced home buyers is now widely available.

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

Home buying 101 -- Escrow? Jumbo loan? PMI? Before your head is swimming with these house-buying terms, get a quick vocabulary lesson in some real estate and mortgage terms.

There's a first time for everything
First-time home buyer programs -- Here's why the best place to get a mortgage might be your state capital rather than the local mortgage broker's office.

Tax breaks for the first-time buyers -- As a homeowner, you'll now have an added dimension to your taxes.

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

Good and bad news about good-faith estimates

Ins and outs of good-faith estimates -- These listings of all your closing costs can vary widely, so it's a good idea to shop around.

When good-faith estimates go bad -- Sometimes called "guesstimates," they can cause sticker shock at closing.

Ready, set, go!
Key decision: New or existing home? -- Each approach has both pros and cons.

Go FSBO or use an agent? -- Can you avoid using a real estate agent? Yes, but it might not be a good idea.

The truth about buying foreclosures -- With interest rates down and stocks tanking, real estate in foreclosure looks attractive as an investment, says author Elaine Zimmerman.

Can you really buy with no money down? -- A variety of programs make it possible to move in without cash up front.

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

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