The specific way you progress through a home buying transaction varies depending on the real estate laws and customs where you live, but there are many home buying steps that are standard, even though they might not be accomplished in the same order in every location.

You'll feel more confident about your home buying journey when you understand what is required of you and every other person who is involved in the transaction. This guide takes you through it, and shows you that you're only 11 steps away from buying a home.
1. Get Your Finances In Order 2. Familiarize Yourself With The Mortgage Industry
Before you can apply for a mortgage you'll need to know everything that has been reported about your financial history. Your credit reports play an important role in the mortgage approval process and in determining the interest rate and other loan terms that a lender offers you.

If you haven't looked at your credit reports, you might be surprised at their contents, because errors are common.

Find out what's on your credit report and fix correct any negative reporting
Learn about the importance of credit scores and how to improve them

Finding the right loan and lender is crucial to your home buying success. It's up to you to determine which lender is best for your needs, and it's always a good idea to have a working knowledge of the home loan process before you talk to a lender.

 What's the Difference Between a Mortgage Broker and a Bank Loan Officer?
 Should You Choose an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?
 Understanding Your Debt to Income Ratio
 The Facts about VA Home Loans
 FHA Loan Basics
 Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment Plans
 Should You Really Buy Discount Points?
 Facts About Private Mortgage Insurance
will You Have a Mortgage or a Deed of Trust? Why Does it Matter?
How to Watch Out for Loan Fraud

3. Pre-Approval for a Mortgage 4. Determine Your Real Needs and Wants
Do you know how much house you can afford? Probably not, unless you've talked with a lender.

Pre-approval helps you in other ways. Consider this scenario. A home seller gets two similar offers. One is accompanied by a letter from the buyer's bank that states she is pre-approved for a mortgage in the amount of the offer. The other has no supporting documents. Which offer do you think the seller will consider first?

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval, Which Do You Need?
Using Online Mortgage Calculators to Analyze Your Loan Possibilities

Buying a home isn't as difficult as you might think, even if you're short on funds, but the process will go a lot smoother if you get familiar with your real estate market and narrow down your wants and needs before you start looking at houses.

Sort Your real Needs & Wants
Considering the Resale Potential
Help with Downpayment Funds

5. Working with Real Estate Agents 6. Start Searching for Your Home
Real estate agents represent buyers, sellers, or both--and in some states they can work as neutral facilitators for either party. It's essential to understand agent duties and loyalties before you make that first phone call.

Does Your Agent Work for You?
How To Work with a Seller's Agent
What You Should Expect from a Buyer's Agent
How To Hire a Buyer's Agent
How a Buyer's Agent Becomes a Dual Agent
Common Myths About Working with Real Estate Agents
Your Responsibilities to Your Agent
Dealing with Incompetent and Unethical People

Your agent will give you multiple listing sheets to study. I'm sure you'll also pick up House For Sale magazines and read classified ads in your local newspapers. You'll probably spend time surfing the Internet for homes. You might even plan afternoon drives to preview neighborhoods. Those are all excellent ways to see what's available. Here are some tools to help you narrow your home buying search.

Home Buying Search Methods

The Houses that Others Overlook
Find Out What's Out There
Search Public Versions of Multiple Listing Service Web Sites
Find Real Estate Agent Web Sites
Browse Real Estate Search Engines and Networks
Find For Sale By Owner Properties
Find Foreclosed Homes

7. Pre-Offer Tasks 8. Making an Offer

Deciding whether or not you want to buy a house involves a look at its structure and its features, but there are many other topics that are every bit as important to your purchase. Here are a few topics you should explore before you make an offer.

How's the Resale Potential?
Contract Contingency Basics
What Kind of House Is It? Site Built, Modular, Manufactured
Do Others Have a Right to Use the Property?
What about Deed Restrictions?
Is the Reported Square Footage Accurate?
Is the Heating System Efficient?

There's no one set of rules that cover all the real estate laws and customs that exist throughout the US, so the mechanics of making an offer and its specific contingencies depend greatly on your location. However, there are some home buying tips that can help you fine-tune your offer, no matter where you live.

What Comes With the House?
What Should the Seller Disclose?
Determine if Lead Paint Disclosures Are Required
Deciding How Much to Offer
Asking for Possession Before Closing
Considerations for For Sale By Owner Purchases

9. Home Inspections 10. Avoiding and Correcting Final Problems
In some states, home inspections are accomplished before the final purchase contract is signed. In other states, inspections take place after an offer is finalized. No matter when you do them, it's critical to decide which inspections and tests you want to perform.

Talk with your real estate agent or other advisor to find out when inspections should be handled and if additional types of testing are important for your specific area.

Should You Buy a Home Warranty?
Looking for Molds and Mildew
Testing for Radon Gas
Lead Paint Disclosures & Inspections for Pre-1978 Homes
Is There a Private Well on the Property?
Understanding and Checking the Septic System
Eradicating Wood Destroying Insects
Order a Full Home Inpsection

As your closing date nears, everyone involved in your real estate transaction should check its progress on a daily basis, because staying on top of things means you'll know immediately if there's a problem that must be dealt with. Here's a bit of information that focuses on a few common problems that home buyers must deal with before they close on a house.

What things You Shouldn't Do When You're Buying a Home?
What are the most common Residential Appraisal Methods?
How to Deal with a Low Appraisal

11. Closing Final Thoughts
Most of your home buying problems are behind you now and you're on your way to closing, also called settlement, the event that transfers ownership of the property to you.

Buyer Remorse
Title Insurance
Read the HUD-1 Settlement Statement
The Final Walk-Through

The steps outlined in here are a general home buying guide. You will encounter issues specific to your location and your transaction, issues that can best be explained and handled by your local real estate agent, your lender, your attorney, your closing agent, or others who are helping you complete the home buying transaction.

Never hesitate to ask questions about anything . Ask as many questions as necessary to help you understand the entire home buying process. You are making a long term commitment and you'll feel much better about the transaction if you are informed.