Closing Day Events

You'll present your paid homeowner's insurance policy or a binder and receipt showing that the premium has been paid. The closing agent will then list the money you owe the seller (remainder of down payment, prepaid taxes, etc.) and then the money the seller owes you (unpaid taxes and prepaid rent, if applicable). The seller will provide proofs of any inspection, warranties, etc. Once you're sure you understand all the documentation, you'll sign the mortgage, agreeing that if you don't make payments the lender is entitled to sell your property and apply the sale price against the amount you owe plus expenses. You'll also sign a mortgage note, promising to repay the loan. The seller will give you the title to the house in the form of a signed deed. You'll pay the lender's agent all closing costs and, in turn, he or she will provide you with a settlement statement of all the items for which you have paid. The deed and mortgage will then be recorded in the state Registry of Deeds, and you will be a homeowner.
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How Much House

The conventional home buying wisdom is to buy as much house as you can afford. It is important, however, to limit your mortgage obligation to what you can comfortably manage, especially during times when the economy is uncertain.
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Buying Compromises

If you find that today's home prices require you to make compromises (as is probably the case for most first-time buyers) look for homes that you could expand or upgrade in the future, to add the space or amenities you can't afford today.
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Truth in Lending

The Truth in Lending Act gives homeowners three days from the day the account was opened to cancel their credit line. However, the homeowner must inform the lender in writing within those three days. According to the FDIC, the lender then must cancel its security interest in the home and return all fees paid.
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Mortgage

Generally speaking, a mortgage is a loan obtained to purchase real estate. The "mortgage" itself is a lien (a legal claim) on the home or property that secures the promise to pay the debt. All mortgages have two features in common: principal and interest.
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Choosing a Lender

Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it's beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations.
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Closing Documents

You should receive the following documentation at closing: Settlement Statement, HUD-1 Form (itemizes services provided and the fees charged; it is filled out by the closing agent and must be given to you at or before closing); Truth-in-Lending Statement; Mortgage Note; Mortgage or Deed of Trust; Binding Sales Contract (prepared by the seller; your lawyer should review it); Keys to your new home.
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Direct Buy Escrow

If you buy a house directly from a seller, without brokers, have an attorney keep your deposit in and escrow account. Too often, money held by the seller is spent prematurely. If the sale doesn't go though it's important that you can recover your funds.
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Mortgage Expiration

If you lock in a mortgage rate, make sure the expiration date leaves enough time to complete the real estate closing. The flood of home purchases and refinancings has created major processing delays, so if there is any question about the processing time, or if you seem to be cutting it close, you may want to pay a little more for a longer lock-in period rather than risk losing your rate.
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