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Buying a home will probably be the biggest financial transaction you ever make, so it’s important to feel comfortable with the process before diving in.

It’s understandable if you’re not sure where to begin — there are so many decisions to make from neighborhood to floorplan to lender. Not to mention, if you’re buying with someone else, there are differing needs and opinions to reconcile.

Not to worry. We’ve got plenty of information to take you from open house to closing table (and beyond) and it’s all compiled here into one cohesive guide for you.

Estimate your homebuying budget.

The money question … literally. You don’t want to fall in love with a house, only to realize later it’s way out of your price range. Going into the (house)hunt with a clear picture of your finances will help save you time and heartache.

Get that pre-approval in hand.

Now that you have an idea of how much house you can afford, it’s time to make it official with a pre-approval letter. This is one of the most important steps you can take prior to shopping for a home  — think of the pre-approval letter as a way of letting the seller know you’re serious about buying.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

You might be ready to dive right into the actual house hunting, but you may want to think bigger first: What’s the neighborhood like? Don’t forget what’s around your home matters, too. Maybe you’re into jogging, and you want a good running route nearby. Maybe you have kids and will need to take a closer look at school districts. Here are a few ways to take on neighborhood hunting:

On the Hunt for the Perfect Home

Finally, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: open houses! It’s easy to get swept up in a whirlwind of square footage and bed-to-bath ratios, so keep these tips in mind as you venture into the exciting territory of scouting for your dream home.

Lock in a home sweet home (loan).

When it comes to home loans, you might feel overwhelmed by the options: adjustable rate, fixed rate, jumbo mortgage … what does it all mean? We’re here to guide you toward a decision that’s right for you, your timeline, and your finances.

It’s move-in day!

The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here. The papers are signed, the boxes are packed (well, some of them, anyway), and the keys are in your hands. Before you start driving off into the sunset to your new home sweet home, look at these tips — they might help make moving in smooth-sailing and stress-free … so you can start planning that housewarming party.

Congrats, you’re a homeowner! Now what?

Homeownership is an ever-changing stage. It’s a lot of fun turning your house into a home, but it can be daunting, too, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. You might have questions about energy-efficiency or, down the road, refinancing. You may even want a more comprehensive guide that you can download and reference whenever you’d like.

These tips will help guide you as you walk the homebuying path. Buying a home is a big deal and there are a lot of steps along the way, from finding the right neighborhood to actually being a successful homeowner. But you can take each step with confidence if you do some research and go into the process with a clear picture of your finances and what you want in your home.

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