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Whether it's your first home or your 12th, it's always a big deal to buy a house. No one ever said it would be easy.

It's often a stressful, terrifying process but at the same time, something you've dreamed of, planned for and worked hard to achieve. It's your share of the American dream.

In an attempt to minimize your pain and strain, Bankrate takes you through the entire process, explaining what, when, where, why and how to do what's needed to reach your goal.

Buying your new home

Get your credit fixed first -- Making sure your credit score is as high as it can possibly be gives you the best shot at the lowest possible interest rate.

Line up your financing before you shop -- Many buyers incorrectly wait until they've signed a contract before seeking financing. But the terms of the loan can make a big difference in how much house you can buy.

How much house can you afford? -- Learn what to consider when deciding how much to spend and use Bankrate's easy interactive tool for an estimation.

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Timeline for home buyers -- Lots to do, but which comes first? Follow this timeline to get your housing ducks in a row.

6 top benefits of owning a home -- The responsibilities that go with homeownership can be pain, but the financial and 'feel good' rewards make it all worthwhile.

Who should NOT buy a house -- It's not for everyone, you know. Some people in certain circumstances shouldn't even think about it.

What's better: New or existing home? -- Different strokes for different folks. Here's a review of the pros and cons of each.

FSBO-assist firms can help buyers, too -- Firms geared to help sellers can also be a big boon to buyers going it alone.

Buying a FSBO: who saves what? -- Some buyers target properties that are "for sale by owner," thinking that owners will pass along the savings they realize from avoiding an agent's commission. Don't count on it.

Know your rights in any real estate purchase -- By learning your rights as a home buyer, you can help yourself get the best deal possible and stay in control of the transaction every step of the way.

The truth about buying foreclosures -- Everyone wants to buy a foreclosure for a song. But they're not that easy to find and there's no guarantee it's a good investment.

Tax breaks for homeowners -- Favorable tax treatment is one of the best reasons for buying your own home. Here's how it can work for you.

Do I need an attorney for a home purchase? -- Many people rely on real estate agents, title companies and escrow agents to close the deal. Is that good enough?

What does the contract mumbo-jumbo really mean? -- Bankrate's interactive contract takes you through a typical sale and purchase contract paragraph by paragraph.

Good faith estimates vary widely -- They're done in good faith, but things change, so don't bet the farm on them.

Hottest and coolest housing markets -- A look at which areas of the country have volatile markets and which are most stable.

What to look for in a house -- As you shop for a house, it helps to know the danger signs of serious problems and which are minor.

Get home inspection first -- Beat the buyer to the punch by getting your home inspected before listing. That way you can price accordingly.

Winning the offer/counteroffer game -- The seller sets an inflated asking price and, as the buyer, you offer something less. Here's how to win this cat-and-mouse game.

10 biggest mistakes home buyers make -- If you can avoid falling into these traps, you're likely to get a much better deal.

Get a CLUE before making an offer -- This insurance-claim history on the home you're about to buy can provide priceless information.

-- Posted: May 16, 2005

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'05 Real Estate Guide
 
Home
 
 
Buying
 
   
   
 
30 yr fixed mtg 4.08%
15 yr fixed mtg 3.17%
5/1 jumbo ARM 3.54%
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