• Home Buying Tips for First-Time Home Buyers in 2014

    Are you a first-time buyer? Need some helpful home buying tips to guide you though the process? You've come to the right place. Since 2006, the Home Buying Institute has published expert tips and tutorials for first-time home buyers. Our library covers everything from house hunting to mortgage loans, from the initial planning to the final closing.

    Today, we have one of the largest collections of home buying tips for first-time home buyers in 2014 — more than 1,000 articles and tutorials, and counting! Use the menu above to start your learning process, or check out the featured tutorials for buying your first home below.

    This Week's Featured Article

    Recent Home Buying Tips and Tutorials

    We publish new home buying tips and tutorials every week, to keep you informed. Here are the latest articles for the week of August 12, 2014.

    Definition of a Conforming Home Loan
    A conforming loan is one that meets, or "conforms" with, the minimum standards set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This article explains what these rules are, where they come from, and how they can affect you as a borrower.
    Published: August 12, 2014

    The Mortgage APR Explained
    As a home buyer, you should understand the difference between the annual percentage rate (APR) and the "regular" interest rate. The APR shows the full cost of the loan, including fees and charges. The home buying tips in this article will help you keep it all straight.
    Published: August 4, 2014

    Refinancing Without Closing Costs: It's a Tradeoff
    This is one of the most common questions we receive from homeowners: Can I refinance my home without paying any closing costs? Some lenders are willing to waive some of their upfront fees. But it will cost you. They'll likely charge a higher interest rate.
    Published: July 31, 2014

    Are 95% Mortgages Still Available These Days?
    During the housing boom, many lenders were allowing down payments as low as 5% -- or even lower. But in the current market, 95% mortgage financing is harder to come by. It's also more expensive, because you'll probably have to pay PMI. But there options.
    Published: July 29, 2014

    Can I Negotiate for a Lower Mortgage Rate?
    Negotiating with a lender could work out to your advantage. For instance, if you shave a few basis points off your interest rate, it could save you thousands over the term of your loan. At the same time, you have to be realistic about your qualifications as a borrower.
    Published: July 13, 2014

    What Is a Mortgage Origination Fee and Related FAQs?
    When you work with a lender to finance the purchase of a home, there's a good chance they will charge you a fee to "originate" the loan. These fees average around 1% of the amount being borrowed. They are usually tax-deductible, but not always.
    Published: July 10, 2014

    5 Common Contingencies Included in Purchase Agreements
    A contingency is a future event that is possible but hard to predict. In a real estate context, this might be an unsettling home inspection or a loan that goes south. If you include such contingencies in your purchase agreement, you'll have a way to back out of the deal.
    Published: July 7, 2014

    5 Things to Avoid Before Applying for a Mortgage
    Planning to apply for a mortgage loan in the near future? If so, this is probably not the time to take a vacation, change jobs, or rack up a bunch of credit card debt. These home buying tips explain what to do, and what to avoid, before approaching lenders.
    Published: July 6, 2014

    Mortgage Commitment Letters, Conditions, and Approvals
    It's common for borrowers to receive a list of conditions from their lenders, prior to the final approval. These conditions usually come from the underwriting department. They're not always deal-breakers, but they do need to be resolved before the loan can close.
    Published: June 30, 2014

    How to Correct Credit Report Errors
    Did you know that credit report mistakes could cause you to pay more for a mortgage loan, due to higher interest rates? It's true, and it happens often enough to be a serious concern. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to correct such errors. This article explains how.
    Published: June 26, 2014

    How Does an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Work?
    Once considered a "high-risk" mortgage product, ARM loans can actually be advantageous in the short term. They are well suited for borrowers who only plan to stay in a home for a few years. Is an ARM loan right for you? These home buying tips will help you decide.
    Published: June 24, 2014

    Credit Card Introductory Rates Explained
    If you're over 18 and you have a mailbox, you've probably received an offer for a "low introductory rate" credit card. Also known as teaser rates, these are the most common offers used to attract new cardholders. Here's how they work.
    Published: June 21, 2014

    Best Type of Credit Card for First-Time User
    Credit "newbies" face a dizzying array of options when it comes to choosing a first credit card. Our advice is to forget about the marketing hype and compare them based on features and costs. Here's how to get started.
    Published: June 17, 2014

    Our Story: Helping First-Time Buyers Since 2006

    We have been publishing home buying tips and tutorials for first-time buyers since 2004. HBI began as an email newsletter service, before launching this website in 2006. That's a full decade of offering tips on buying a first home! Where has the time gone?

    Today, HBI is one of the most frequently visited, and widely cited, websites catering to home buyers and mortgage shoppers. We have received literally thousands of questions over the years (if only we had the staff to answer them all). As a result, we know what questions you have, as a first-time home buyer. Our website is designed to answer those questions in a clear and helpful manner. Here's to another ten years of helping buyers.

    We publish new home buying tips on a weekly basis. Currently, our online library contains more than 500 tutorials. Most have been updated within the last year, to make them more useful and relevant. The most recent lessons can be found above. If you're a first-time buyer, you might want to start with the "featured advice" section found on this page.

    Tip: Do you need even more tips for buying your first home in 2014? Try using the search box located in the upper-right corner of this (and every) page. Our website offers hundreds of tips and tutorials for first-time buyers, with new ones added every day. How do I choose the right type of loan? How do I make an offer to buy a house? How do I negotiate with the seller? You'll find answers to these and other questions right here on our website.

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