Buying Your First Home

Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming, but we've got you covered with our simple, easy to understand advice.

Buying an old house: What to know know about purchasing a 100-year-old property
Buying Your First Home
Buying an old house: What to know know about purchasing a 100-year-old property

Old houses can be well-maintained but likely require some renovation. Take extra care during the home inspection to make sure it's worth any potential headache.

What is a preliminary title report?
Buying Your First Home
What is a preliminary title report?

A preliminary title report details all available information about the title and background of a property.

What is the average age to buy a house? What's the best age?
Buying Your First Home
What is the average age to buy a house? What's the best age?

The average age at which people buy houses has declined over the decades along with homeownership rates but it's still possible and can be worthwhile.

What's the cost of living in Dallas, Texas?
Texas
What's the cost of living in Dallas, Texas?

With average food and utility costs, rising housing costs, and no state income tax, the cost of living in Dallas is only 3% above the national average.

What is the cost of living in Georgia?
Buying Your First Home
What is the cost of living in Georgia?

Georgia has lower housing costs, daily expenses, and tax burdens than average, but higher healthcare costs making for an overall high quality of life.

What military members need to know about homebuying
Buying Your First Home
What military members need to know about homebuying

The benefits of homeownership are the same for military members as they are for everyone. But there are also a few key benefits only service members receive.

What exactly is a pied-à-terre?
Preparing to Buy
What exactly is a pied-à-terre?

The pied-à-terre once referred to a a modest, temporary lodging for a soldier and is now used in real estate to describe a homeowner’s second property.

Does every house have a septic tank?
Buying Your First Home
Does every house have a septic tank?

Only a quarter of homes in the U.S. shave a septic tank and they are most common in New England and least common in California.

What to do if you regret buying your home
Buying Your First Home
What to do if you regret buying your home

Buying a house these days is risky, which is why it’s especially important to take steps to avoid buyer’s remorse.

How to buy a million dollar home
Buying Your First Home
How to buy a million dollar home

The key to buying a million dollar home is putting more money down up front to decrease your monthly mortgage payment.

How much does it cost to rewire a house?
Home Improvement
How much does it cost to rewire a house?

Rewriting a house can cost at least a few thousand dollars and over $20,000 depending on the size and age of the home.

What is real estate steering?
Preparing to Buy
What is real estate steering?

Steering is an illegal form of housing discrimination as defined by the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which is part of the Civil Rights Act.

What really counts a bedroom?
Preparing to Buy
What really counts a bedroom?

Bedrooms are defined by their size, ceiling height, and the presence of electrical outlets, doors, and windows.

What to know about container homes — and how much they cost
Buying a New Construction Home
What to know about container homes — and how much they cost

Container home cost anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000 depending on whether they're prefab or custom-built.

The worst day to close on a house
Closing on a Home
The worst day to close on a house

Though there's no hard evidence, anecdotally many homebuyers and real estate professionals say Friday is the worst day for closing on a home.

What to know before moving to Texas
Buying Before Selling
What to know before moving to Texas

Before moving to Texas, you should know that the housing market is expensive, the cost of living is low, and the poverty rate and temperatures are high.

Is homeowners insurance included in a mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
Is homeowners insurance included in a mortgage?

Depending on your mortgage lender and insurance provider, you may include homeowners insurance in your mortgage, or you might pay it ahead of time.

What to know about moving to Colorado
Preparing to Buy
What to know about moving to Colorado

If you're thinking about moving to Colorado, you should know that it has a high cost of living matched by higher than average incomes.

14 things to know about moving to Georgia
Atlanta
14 things to know about moving to Georgia

Thinking about moving to Georgia? Before you hire a moving company and set off on your new adventure, here's what to know about the Peach State.

What Is a Colonial home?
Buying Your First Home
What Is a Colonial home?

Colonial-style homes are known for their plain exteriors, minimal embellishments, and rectangular, symmetrical shapes.

The most (and least) humid states in the U.S.
Preparing to Buy
The most (and least) humid states in the U.S.

Alaska is the most humid state with an average relative humidity of 74.3% and Arizona is the least humid state with just 40.4%.

Top 15 under-the-radar cities to retire
Buying Before Selling
Top 15 under-the-radar cities to retire

We analyzed 100 cities for housing, healthcare, and quality of life indicators to find the top 15 best cities to retire.

4 essential closing documents you need to sign
Closing on a Home
4 essential closing documents you need to sign

Closing documents include a promissory note, mortgage or deed of trust, insurance policies, closing disclosure, and any affidavits related to the property.

5 moves to pay off your mortgage in 5 years
Mortgage & Financing
5 moves to pay off your mortgage in 5 years

Paying off a mortgage in a super-short amount of time really comes down to pay down your mortgage debt aggressively and generating extra money quickly.

Understanding real estate closing disclosures (CDs)
Closing on a Home
Understanding real estate closing disclosures (CDs)

A real estate closing disclosure is a form that summarizes the details of your mortgage loan and it’s provided to you by your bank or mortgage lender.

What are amenities?
Buying Your First Home
What are amenities?

Amenities in housing are any desirable or useful features, which fall into two broad types: tangible amenities and intangible amenities.

12 first-time homebuyer mistakes and how to avoid them
Buying Your First Home
12 first-time homebuyer mistakes and how to avoid them

These are the top first-time home buyer mistakes, how to avoid them, and the first-time home buyer habits you should follow. 

Everything you need to know about sustainable cities
Buying Your First Home
Everything you need to know about sustainable cities

Learn what a sustainable city is, key features of sustainable cities, and examples of green cities in practice.

What is a forward mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a forward mortgage?

Learn the definition of a forward mortgage, how they compare with reverse mortgages, and examples of both mortgage types.

How to find and access off-market properties
Preparing to Buy
How to find and access off-market properties

Off-market homes provide a potential investment opportunity but can be tricky to navigate if you don’t have experience. Here's a guide on where to start.

What exactly is a house-price-to-income ratio?
Preparing to Sell
What exactly is a house-price-to-income ratio?

The house-price-to-income ratio is a rule-of-thumb measure of housing affordability. It compares the median price of homes to the median household income.

Appraisal waivers — Are they good or bad?
Home Inspections & Appraisals
Appraisal waivers — Are they good or bad?

Most lenders require an appraisal, but you can waive the appraisal in select circumstances

Is buying a home as-is a good idea?
Preparing to Buy
Is buying a home as-is a good idea?

Buying an as-is home usually come with a lower purchase price, but may need extensive repairs. It's still a viable option if you're willing to take on the risk.

Rent vs. buy calculator: Should I rent or buy a house?
Preparing to Buy
Rent vs. buy calculator: Should I rent or buy a house?

Unsure of whether to rent or buy a house? Use this rent vs. buy calculator to make an informed decision about which option makes the most financial sense.

What's the deal with Walk Score?
Buying Your First Home
What's the deal with Walk Score?

Walk Score is a metric that helps homebuyers find walkable places to live. Properties are rated from 0-100 based on their walkability.

Is homeowners insurance tax deductible?
Buying Your First Home
Is homeowners insurance tax deductible?

You can’t deduct homeowners insurance premiums on your federal taxes, with two key exceptions: your home is your primary workplace or you rent out your home.

How much are HOA fees?
Buying Your First Home
How much are HOA fees?

The average HOA fee is $170 a month, but you could pay anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on where you live and what amenities your HOA community offers.

Buying a lake house? 9 reasons why might regret it
Preparing to Buy
Buying a lake house? 9 reasons why might regret it

Buying a lake house comes with many costs, challenges, and potential regrets so you’ll need to consider whether these negatives outweigh the benefits.

11 tax deductions for homeowners
Buying Your First Home
11 tax deductions for homeowners

There are a number of tax deductions available to homeowners, but most of these deductions are only available if you itemize deductions.

A guide to saving money with mortgage credit certificates
Mortgage & Financing
A guide to saving money with mortgage credit certificates

Mortgage credit certificates provide eligible homebuyers with a tax credit for a portion of the mortgage interest they pay annually.

Can I cancel PMI if my home value increases?
Mortgage & Financing
Can I cancel PMI if my home value increases?

You can cancel PMI early if your home value increases, but you’ll need to get an official appraisal showing what your home is worth.

8 costs of homeownership you need to know
Buying Your First Home
8 costs of homeownership you need to know

After closing on a home you're not off the hook. There are various costs of homeownership you need to prepare for.

Should I put my house in a trust?
Buying Your First Home
Should I put my house in a trust?

Putting your house in a trust entails retitling it in the trust's name and it can help avoid probate, gettin the property to your heirs faster than a will.

House poor: What it means and how to avoid it
Buying Your First Home
House poor: What it means and how to avoid it

House poor is term used to describe someone who is overspending on their housing budget, usually with 30% or more of their income dedicated to housing costs.

What is land value tax?
Buying Your First Home
What is land value tax?

Land value tax levies a tax on the value of unimproved land itself, regardless of what lies on the land, and is only asssessed in a few U.S. Cities.

Are property taxes deductible?
Preparing to Buy
Are property taxes deductible?

Homeowners can write off state and local property taxes on their federal income tax return. Married couples can deduct up to $10,000; singles up to $5,000.

The 5 best grants and home loans for disabled homebuyers
Buying Your First Home
The 5 best grants and home loans for disabled homebuyers

Disabled homeowners can qualify for grants and home loans by getting a mortgage backed by a government agency like a USDA or VA loan.

A guide to residential energy tax credits: How homeowners can save money with green improvements
Buying Before Selling
A guide to residential energy tax credits: How homeowners can save money with green improvements

The residential energy tax credits help you save up to 30% of the costs of energey-efficient improvements, but there are certain limits and restrictions.

Can’t afford closing costs? What to know about no-closing-cost mortgages
Mortgage & Financing
Can’t afford closing costs? What to know about no-closing-cost mortgages

A no-closing cost mortgage is a type of mortgage where the borrower is not required to pay the traditional closing costs associated with purchasing the house

What is a homestead exemption?
Buying Your First Home
What is a homestead exemption?

The homestead exemption shields a certain amount or percentage of your home’s assessed value from taxes, but it isn't available in every state.

Are home equity loans tax deductible in 2023?
Mortgage & Financing
Are home equity loans tax deductible in 2023?

Yes, the interest paid on a home equity loan or HELOC is deductible if you used the loan to buy, build or improve the home used to get the loan.

Are closing costs tax deductible?
Buying Before Selling
Are closing costs tax deductible?

Certain fees that you pay as part of closing costs are tax deductible (like mortgage points and mortgage insurance), but you can't deduct everything.

VA funding fees explained
VA Loans
VA funding fees explained

The VA funding fee is a one-time fee that is charged to borrowers who use their VA home-loan benefits to finance the purchase of a home.

Cloudy with a chance of extreme weather: States with the least — and most — natural disasters
Buying Your First Home
Cloudy with a chance of extreme weather: States with the least — and most — natural disasters

The states with the least natural disasters include Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The state with the most natural disasters is Washington.

Is mortgage interest tax deductible?
Mortgage & Financing
Is mortgage interest tax deductible?

As long as you meet all the requirements and your house qualifies, you can deduct mortgage interest on your taxes but there are limits.

What's the deal with Victorian houses?
Buying Your First Home
What's the deal with Victorian houses?

You’ll recognize a Victorian house (or a Victorian-inspired home) by its ornate wood exterior, steep roof, and large bay windows.

How buying down your interest rate helps save you money
Mortgage & Financing
How buying down your interest rate helps save you money

Buying down your interest rate can lower your monthly mortgage payment, and it's most beneficial when rates aren't expected to go down in the future.

What exactly is a mother-in-law suite?
Preparing to Buy
What exactly is a mother-in-law suite?

Mother-in-law suites are living areas with a private entrance separate from the main home. While meant for in-laws, they can serve a variety of other functions.

Do VA loans require a down payment?
VA Loans
Do VA loans require a down payment?

VA loans don't require a down payment, but there are benefits to putting some money down even if it's not mandatory.

Is buying a duplex worth it?
Buying Your First Home
Is buying a duplex worth it?

Duplexes are more affordable than single-family homes, and if you rent out half you'll have passive income, but you'll have to contend with being a landlord.

The 20 best under-the-radar cities for LGBTQ+ homebuyers in 2023
Preparing to Buy
The 20 best under-the-radar cities for LGBTQ+ homebuyers in 2023

An update to our 2022 study: These cities offer LGBTQ+ homebuyers affordability, reasonable competition, high quality of life, and inclusive laws and policies.

A guide to buying a house with a friend
Buying Your First Home
A guide to buying a house with a friend

To make buying a house with a friend work, you need to agree on a co-ownership arrangement and understand your financial duties as a borrower.

What is a Craftsman home?
Buying Your First Home
What is a Craftsman home?

Craftsman homes emphasize natural materials and individualistic handmade touches. This style of house and was made famous by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright.

Bi-level house vs. split-level house: What to know
Buying Your First Home
Bi-level house vs. split-level house: What to know

The primary difference between the two homes is that a bi-level home is a single level home, whereas a split-story home has multiple stories. 

Is buying a tiny home worth it?
Buying Your First Home
Is buying a tiny home worth it?

If you love the idea of a flexible lifestyle and don’t mind living in a small home, a tiny home, which is less than 600 square feet, might be right for you.

Do buyers pay realtor fees?
Buying Your First Home
Do buyers pay realtor fees?

Realtor fees and real estate agent commission are paid by sellers and not homebuyers, and there are ways for you to save money on fees when selling your house.

How to buy a house online: What to know
Buying Your First Home
How to buy a house online: What to know

You can browse homes to buy online on real estate websites, some of which allow you to carry out whole homebuying process on the internet, too.

How a mortgage recast can save you money
Mortgage & Financing
How a mortgage recast can save you money

Recasting a mortgage can help lower your monthly mortgage payment, but it won't lower the interest rate or change the terms of your loan.

What is a barndominium?
Buying Your First Home
What is a barndominium?

Barndominiums or barndos are barns adapted into a residence, or a house that relies on a typical barn structure, and they can be cheaper than most homes.

Buying a house during a recession: What to know
Buying Your First Home
Buying a house during a recession: What to know

If you can afford it, buying a home during a recession isn't a bad idea since you'll face less competition and lower home prices, too.

What is a gift letter for a mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a gift letter for a mortgage?

A gift letter is a form signed by you and the person who's giving you money towards your mortgage loan. You can usually get a gift letter form from your lender.

All about A-frame houses
Buying Your First Home
All about A-frame houses

While A-frame houses are cheaper to buy or build, usually with a kit, compared to other homes, they come with their own set of disadvantages.

10 common types of houses to know
Buying Your First Home
10 common types of houses to know

You can distinguish different types of homes by building structure, like condo or single-family, or by architecture style — like ranch or Colonial.

How do property taxes work?
Buying Your First Home
How do property taxes work?

Property taxes are based on the assessed value of your home and the tax rate, both of which are set by your local government.

What is an inspection contingency — do I need one?
Home Inspections & Appraisals
What is an inspection contingency — do I need one?

A home inspection contingency clause allows a potential homebuyer to back out of a purchase contract if a professional finds there are issues with the property.

Gated communities and neighborhoods: What to know
Buying Your First Home
Gated communities and neighborhoods: What to know

Living in a gated community can bring security, but there are disadvantanges to living in this type of neighborhood, including extra costs.

How to save for a house while renting
Buying Your First Home
How to save for a house while renting

The first step to save for a house while renting is to create a budget and get familiar with your finances. Here are 12 ways to get started.

What is an assumable mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
What is an assumable mortgage?

An assumable mortgage is when a buyer takes on an existing mortgage, including its remaining balance and mortgage rate, from the person selling their home.

What does MLS stand for?
Buying Your First Home
What does MLS stand for?

MLS stands for multiple listing service. This database provides information about real estate properties for sale and only licensed agents have access.

What is a joint mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a joint mortgage?

A joint mortgage allows you to borrow money with another person — or a few other people — and use it to buy a house together.

Offer accepted? Here's what happens next
Buying Your First Home
Offer accepted? Here's what happens next

After your offer has been accepted you'll sign a purchase agreement, which is typically contingent upon a few things, laid out in the terms of the contract.

What is private mortgage insurance (PMI)?
Mortgage & Financing
What is private mortgage insurance (PMI)?

Private mortgage insurance or PMI protects the mortgage lender, and it's required if you put down less than 20% when you buy a home.

Home touring: 9 things to look for
Buying Your First Home
Home touring: 9 things to look for

The average home tour lasts 15 to 30 minutes. Make the most of your time by looking for odors, signs of damage, and more.

Marriage or mortgage? 58% of unmarried couples would say "yes" to homeownership before saying "I do"
Preparing to Buy
Marriage or mortgage? 58% of unmarried couples would say "yes" to homeownership before saying "I do"

The Marriage or Mortgage Report explores the evolving homebuying attitudes of 2,000 Americans in various stages of relationships and family planning.

What is a property survey?
Closing on a Home
What is a property survey?

A property survey is a professional evaluation that determines the boundaries of a property, and it's required by a mortgage lender before you close on a home.

How to get pre-approved for a mortgage
Mortgage & Financing
How to get pre-approved for a mortgage

You can get mortgage pre-approval from an online lender in minutes by filling out an application, providing financial documents, and undergoing a credit check.

Co-borrower vs cosigner: Which is better?
Mortgage & Financing
Co-borrower vs cosigner: Which is better?

A co-borrower takes out the loan with you and is equally responsible for it. A cosigner signs the loan with you but is only responsible if you neglect to pay.

8 things to do when moving out of a house
Closing on a Home
8 things to do when moving out of a house

When you're moving out of a house, make sure everything is squared away in your current one. Here are eight things to do before you leave.

Baseboard heating vs. forced air: Which is better for your house?
Buying Your First Home
Baseboard heating vs. forced air: Which is better for your house?

Although it's costly to install, forced air is the preferable method of heating your home compared to baseboard heaters, which are less energy efficient.

Your guide to FHA loans
Mortgage & Financing
Your guide to FHA loans

FHA loans are backed by the government and have less strict requirements compared to conventional loans.

What does turnkey mean?
Buying Your First Home
What does turnkey mean?

Turnkey real estate refers to move-in-ready homes and properties that don't require repairs or renovations. This makes them particularly desirable to investors.

What is hypothecation in real estate?
Mortgage & Financing
What is hypothecation in real estate?

Hypothecation is when one party agrees to use an asset as collateral in exchange for the loan, and it occurs commonly in mortgages.

What is a transaction broker?
Buying Your First Home
What is a transaction broker?

Legally, a transaction broker has to act as a neutral party — unlike a real estate agent who represents the buyer or seller and their best interests.

12 questions you need to ask when buying a house when buying your house in 2024
Buying Your First Home
12 questions you need to ask when buying a house when buying your house in 2024

Here are the top 13 questions every homebuyer should ask themself, their agent, and the seller to ensure that they've covered all their bases.

Do I need a well inspection?
Buying Your First Home
Do I need a well inspection?

A well inspection involves testing a home's water source for purity and quanity to ensure the water is safe to drink and that there's enough of it.

11 documents you need for a mortgage application
Buying Your First Home
11 documents you need for a mortgage application

Mortgage applications require documents demonstrating your personal details, credit, income, and assets, as well as information about the house you're buying.

Will it a buyer’s or seller’s market in 2024?
Buying Your First Home
Will it a buyer’s or seller’s market in 2024?

In a buyer’s market, prospective homebuyers have an advantage over sellers, while a seller’s market give sellers the upper hand.

7 signs a house will collapse
Buying Your First Home
7 signs a house will collapse

A house may collapse if you see signs of structural issues, like sagging walls, uneven floors, leaking roofs, or visible cracks.

Well water vs. city water: What’s the difference?
Buying Your First Home
Well water vs. city water: What’s the difference?

Well water is a private form of water that comes an aquifer on your property, while city water is a public water source that is managed by the government.

What is a half bath?
Buying Your First Home
What is a half bath?

A half bathroom is a bathroom that contains a toilet and a sink. Full bathrooms, on the other hand, include four elements: a toilet, sink, shower, and bathtub.