The HBI Knowledge Base for Home Buyers

Welcome to the Home Buying Institute knowledge base. On this page, you’ll find links to a variety of guides, tutorials and articles covering all aspects of the home buying process.

The Home Buying Process

This section contains expert guides related to the home buying process, house hunting, making an offer, and other hot topics for buyers.

11 Things Buyers Should Know in 2024
Are you planning to buy a home in the coming months? If so, you’ll want to read this entire article. It compiles all of the latest trends, news and developments you need to know about.

10 Steps to Buying Your First Home
The home buying process can be fairly complex. There are multiple steps and many people involved. To help you understand this process, we’ve broken it down into a series of 10 steps.

What a Buyer’s Agent Does
A real estate agent can help you navigate many aspects of the home buying process, from validating the seller’s asking price to submitting the right paperwork. Here’s how to find one.

What Happens at Closing
First-time buyers typically have a lot of questions about the closing process, including how to prepare for it. This guide explains some of the things you’ll be doing when you close.

Average Closing Costs for Buyers
Home buyers typically pay somewhere between 2% and 5% of the purchase price in closing costs. But you don’t have to guess. Here’s how to determine your actual costs.

When Do I Make My Down Payment?
When buying a home, you’ll probably submit your down payment during the closing process. Buyers usually pay for it with either a cashier’s check or (less often) a wire transfer.

Down Payment Assistance Programs
Many first-time buyers rely on down payment assistance to overcome the upfront, out-of-pocket expense associated with a home purchase. Here’s how to find such assistance.

Local Housing Market Reports

The Home Buying Institute monitors real estate market conditions in major metro areas across the United States. We give home buyers an objective and unbiased look at local market trends. Here are some of our recently updated metro reports.

Austin-Round Rock Market
The Austin-area housing market is currently an outlier among the nation’s major metropolitan areas. While home prices are stable or rising in many U.S. cities, they continue to fall across Central Texas with no bottom in sight.

Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Market
The Dallas-area real estate market has become a lot more buyer-friendly over the past couple of years, with more homes coming onto the market and a slower rate of price growth. (Report updated: June 2024)

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale Market
Like many cities across the U.S., the Phoenix-area real estate market cooled down in 2023 due to a steady rise in mortgage rates. But now, as we approach the summer of 2024, this market is showing clear signs of acceleration.

FHA Loan Guides

Many first-time buyers rely on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan program because it offers a low down payment and flexible qualification criteria. Here’s what you should known about it.

13 Questions About FHA Loans
We identified the most frequently asked FHA-related questions from the past 10 years and put them all onto one page. It’s a great place to begin learning about the program.

FHA Loan Requirements Explained
FHA loans are insured by the federal government. Because of this, they have specific requirements when it comes to things like credit scores, debt levels, income, and mortgage insurance.

FHA Down Payment Rules
FHA loans require borrowers to make a down payment of at least 3.5%. You also need a credit score of 580 or higher to qualify for that low down payment option.

FHA Versus Conventional Loans
All mortgage loans have certain pros and cons associated with them. In this guide, we’ll explore both the advantages and potential disadvantages of FHA financing.

Debt-to-Income Ratio Limits
DTI ratios compare the amount of money a person earns each month to the amount they spend on their recurring debts. Here are the DTI rules for FHA-insured loans.

How Much Can I Borrow
When using an FHA loan, your maximum housing budget will be affected by the DTI ratio mentioned above, as well as the official loan limits and basic affordability.