Buy Your Dream Home

Whether you're buying a home on the market, or building a brand new house, learn how to finance a new home, find the perfect place, and make a competitive offer.

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.

Can you deduct taxes on a second home?
Buying Before Selling
Can you deduct taxes on a second home?

Second homes and investment properties are defined differently by the IRS, and both come with different tax benefits and applicable deductions.

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.

15 tips for moving with children
Preparing to Buy
15 tips for moving with children

Moving into a new home is already a stressful process filled with change and excitement. If you’re moving with kids, there is an added layer of pressure. 

A guide to decoding your VA loan entitlement
Buying Before Selling
A guide to decoding your VA loan entitlement

VA loan entitlement is the maximum amount the VA will repay a lender in the event that a borrower defaults on their loan.

How much VA loan can I get?
VA Loans
How much VA loan can I get?

For most people, VA loan limits are not an issue. But if you have impacted entitlement, then you're subjected to conforming loan limits set by the FHFA.

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 exactly does it mean when a building is condemned?
Preparing to Buy
What exactly does it mean when a building is condemned?

A condemned house is one that the government deems unfit for anyone to live in or use, due to health and safety concerns.

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.

When is my first mortgage payment due?
Mortgage & Financing
When is my first mortgage payment due?

Your first mortgage payment is usually due on the first of the month 30 days after closing, and the due date is affected by your closing date.

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. 

VA construction loans explained
VA Loans
VA construction loans explained

A VA construction loan is a short-term loan that can help cover the costs of new construction homes or home renovations. Here's your guide to this VA benefit.

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.

Checklist: How to winterize your home
Home Improvement
Checklist: How to winterize your home

Here's a list of what you need to do to winterize your house in preparation for colder months.

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.

What are VA loan appraisal and inspection requirements?
VA Loans
What are VA loan appraisal and inspection requirements?

VA loan inspection requirements are often conflated with appraisals, but their aims are different. Here's your guide to understanding the requirements of each.

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.

Are VA loans assumable?
VA Loans
Are VA loans assumable?

Assuming a VA loan can be a great way to save on funding fees and other closing costs. Here's your guide to VA loan assumption.

What are VA loan credit score requirements?
VA Loans
What are VA loan credit score requirements?

Minimum credit scores for VA loans vary by lender. Our guide breaks down everything you need to know about VA loan credit score requirements.

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.

Who are Zillow's competitors? 10 alternatives to know
Buying Before Selling
Who are Zillow's competitors? 10 alternatives to know

Zillow isn't the only real estate site around. A number of competitors and alternatives exist to help you buy, sell, or browse available homes.

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 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.

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.

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.

Does my home need an air quality inspection?
Home Inspections & Appraisals
Does my home need an air quality inspection?

Home inspections can identify any severe air quality issues, and if they persist you'll need to find a professional to conduct an indoor air quality inspection.

19 questions you need to ask when buying a house
Buying Your First Home
19 questions you need to ask when buying a house

Here are the top 19 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.

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.

Radon gas in homes: What you need to know
Home Inspections & Appraisals
Radon gas in homes: What you need to know

The presence of radon doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, especially if there’s a radon mitigation system in the home. It just helps to be prepared.

Checklist: Things to buy for a new house
Buying Your First Home
Checklist: Things to buy for a new house

To help narrow your focus before you hit the shops, keep reading for our list of things to buy for a new house.

What's considered unethical real estate agent behavior?
Finding an Agent
What's considered unethical real estate agent behavior?

No matter where you are in the home buying or selling process, it’s important to educate yourself about what qualifies as unethical or illegal behavior.

What is a real estate referral fee?
Finding an Agent
What is a real estate referral fee?

There are a few different reasons why agents or brokers might refer a customer to another real estate professional instead of accepting them as a client.

What is a balloon mortgage & how do balloon payments work?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a balloon mortgage & how do balloon payments work?

A balloon payment is an extra-large payment due at the end of the loan term. Balloon mortgages have some benefits but aren't right for most homebuyers.

Can I work with multiple real estate agents?
Preparing to Buy
Can I work with multiple real estate agents?

You can work with multiple real estate agents if you haven’t signed an exclusive contract. However, working with multiple agents is generally frowned upon.

Do houses come with appliances?
Buying Your First Home
Do houses come with appliances?

Whether or not an appliance come with a house depends on the type of home, the homeowner's preferences, and if the appliance is considered a fixture.

Your guide to buying a house as a married couple
Buying Your First Home
Your guide to buying a house as a married couple

Except in community property states, a married couple can apply for mortgages, pay for a house, and title a house under the name of just one spouse.

How to make an offer on a house
Offers & Negotiation
How to make an offer on a house

Your offer is more than just your purchase price, it also dictates the terms and conditions for the transaction. Here's how to craft a winning offer.

What to know before buying a house in a flood zone
Buying Your First Home
What to know before buying a house in a flood zone

Just because a house is in a flood zone doesn’t mean you should rule out buying, you just have to prepare your offer and consider the future accordingly.

7 things not to do after closing on a house
Closing on a Home
7 things not to do after closing on a house

What you do during and after closing can make your first year as a homeowner a pain or jeopardize your home sale. Here's what not to do after closing on a home.

What affects mortgage rates?
Buying Your First Home
What affects mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates change daily based on many factors, some of which you can control but many of which you can’t.

What is loan-to-value ratio?
Mortgage & Financing
What is loan-to-value ratio?

LTV is the ratio of your loan compared to the value of the asset it is used to purchase, and it's just as important for borrowers as it is for lenders.

Do medical bills affect your credit when buying a house?
Buying Your First Home
Do medical bills affect your credit when buying a house?

As of July 1, 2022 medical debt will begin to impact consumers’ credit scores in fewer ways.

How does an interest-only mortgage work — and is it worth it?
Mortgage & Financing
How does an interest-only mortgage work — and is it worth it?

Interest-only mortgages have two phases: making small payments and then much larger ones, which can make this type of loan unaffordable if you're not careful.

Can closing costs be included in a VA loan?
VA Loans
Can closing costs be included in a VA loan?

VA loans have slightly different rules and requirements than conventional loans when it comes to closing costs, so it’s important to understand how they work.

What does off-market mean?
Preparing to Buy
What does off-market mean?

If you’ve browsed listings and seen a beautiful home listed as “off-market,” you might have assumed you missed your chance to buy. That's not always the case.

What is an FHA construction loan?
Mortgage & Financing
What is an FHA construction loan?

FHA construction loans are three-in-one mortgages that cover land purchase, construction costs, and permanent financing for those who want to build a home.

How, and how much, do mortgage brokers get paid?
Mortgage & Financing
How, and how much, do mortgage brokers get paid?

Before you agree to work with a mortgage broker, you'll want to find out what you might owe for their services. The answer depends on how the broker is paid.

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

A mortgage contingency in a closing contract releases the buyer if they cannot secure financing. Here's what you need to know about this important clause.

6 reading nook ideas
Home Improvement
6 reading nook ideas

You can build a reading nook even if you're short on space. Here are six ideas to get started.

How much over asking price should I offer on a home?
Buying Your First Home
How much over asking price should I offer on a home?

You may need to offer above asking price in a seller's market, especially if there are multiple offers — but you can make your offer stand out in other ways.

How to get a mortgage when you're self-employed
Mortgage & Financing
How to get a mortgage when you're self-employed

Self-employed workers, including contractors and freelancers, may have less predictable incomes but that doesn't mean they can't qualify for a good mortgage.

What is a jumbo loan — and do you need one?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a jumbo loan — and do you need one?

Any mortgage over a specific dollar amount set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency is called a jumbo loan. The cutoff for jumbo loans is updated each year.

What to know about property liens and if your house has one
Buying Before Selling
What to know about property liens and if your house has one

Buying a house with a lien may not be the best option for all homeowners, since they may then need to pay off the debts in addition to their own mortgage loan.

What states pay you to move there?
Buying Before Selling
What states pay you to move there?

If you’re looking to relocate, here’s a closer look at states that pay you to move there and how much you can earn. 

Is it worth buying a fire-damaged house?
Buying Your First Home
Is it worth buying a fire-damaged house?

Buying a fire-damaged house can be worthwhile if the damage is not extensive, and you can afford the cost of restoration to make the home livable.

Should I buy a house with foundation issues?
Closing on a Home
Should I buy a house with foundation issues?

Buying a house with foundation problems can be daunting, but not all foundation issues need to be deal-breakers. Here's everything you need to know.

Should I buy a house with termites?
Buying Your First Home
Should I buy a house with termites?

When it comes to buying a home with termites, consider the extent of the damage, the costs of repairs, and how major those repairs need to be.

Should you cosign a mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
Should you cosign a mortgage?

Cosigning a mortgage is a financial responsibility with no tangible benefits for the cosigner. Still, you may choose to cosign. Here's what you need to know.

What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?

An adjustable-rate mortgage, is a home loan with an interest rate that can go up or down, depending on what interest rates are like in the economy as a whole.

What is a prepayment penalty on a mortgage?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a prepayment penalty on a mortgage?

Some lenders include a prepayment penalty clause in your loan agreement, which is applied if you pay off your mortgage debt in full within the first few years.

How to choose the right location when buying a house
Preparing to Buy
How to choose the right location when buying a house

Homebuyers often wonder if it’s better to buy a fixer-upper in a good neighborhood or a turnkey home in a bad one. There’s no obvious answer to that question.

Mortgage broker vs. lender: What’s the difference?
Mortgage & Financing
Mortgage broker vs. lender: What’s the difference?

While both a broker and a lender can help you acquire a mortgage, they play separate roles in the market for home loans, and you'll want to know the difference.

Can you buy a house after bankruptcy?
Mortgage & Financing
Can you buy a house after bankruptcy?

Yes, you can buy a house after bankruptcy. You’ll get your house, but it might just take a little longer than you hoped.

What is the house closing process?
Closing on a Home
What is the house closing process?

The closing process has many moving parts and steps to complete before the seller relinquishes ownership and you become the official owner of your new home.

What to know about buying a house with tenants
Offers & Negotiation
What to know about buying a house with tenants

Buying a house with tenants can be convenient, but it can also lead to problems. Understand tenants rights, and yours when the landlord sells the property.

What is mortgage underwriting?
Mortgage & Financing
What is mortgage underwriting?

Underwriting is the last step of the mortgage approval process where the lender determines whether to extend the borrower a loan.

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house?
Buying a New Construction Home
Is it cheaper to build or buy a house?

Under the right circumstances you can save money by building a house instead of buying an existing home, but only if you don’t go overboard.

What is a loan origination fee and who pays for it?
Closing on a Home
What is a loan origination fee and who pays for it?

A loan origination fee is an upfront fee a lender charges to the borrower, but rates can vary. Here's everything you need to know to avoid overpaying.

Should you buy a fixer-upper or move-in ready house?
Buying Your First Home
Should you buy a fixer-upper or move-in ready house?

Learn more about the pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper or a move-in ready house to make an informed decision about your home purchase.

What is a cash-out refinance?
Mortgage & Financing
What is a cash-out refinance?

A cash-out refinance loan replaces your existing mortgage with a new one for more than you currently owe on your home to put money in your pocket. Here's how.