1. Determine how much mortgage you can afford, and for what types of mortgages you may qualify.
Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
Contact a REALTOR@
Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process. Learn more at Realtor.org.
Take a Second Look
Once you've seen several different houses, try to arrange another tour of your top one or two choices. You might notice something--good or bad-- that you missed the first time around.
Inspect, Inspect, Inspect!
Always get a home inspection before you buy to make sure your dream home doesn't end up a nightmare. And do a walk-through right before the closing to confirm that everything's in good shape.
Do a Title Search
Have your lawyer perform a title search to make sure the person selling the home legally owns it and that there are no problems with your home's value or marketability. Your mortgage lender will most likely require you to purchase title insurance as well, so factor that into your budget for closing costs.
Find a Home that Fits Your Budget
It's easy to fall in love with a house that's out of your price range and talk yourself into stretching your budget too thin. Set a price ceiling BEFORE you start looking at homes to avoid the temptation to buy something you can't afford, and make sure your realtor is aware of your budget and only shows you homes you can afford.
Your dream home is within reach. Now it's just a matter of finding and buying it. Here's a handy list of home-buying tips at HowStuffWorks.