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The homebuying process can seem complicated, but if you take things step-by-step, you will soon be holding the keys to your own home.

Nine steps to buying a home

1. Figure out how much you can afford

2. Know your rights

3. Shop for a loan

4. Learn about homebuying programs

5. Shop for a home

6. Make an offer

7. Get a home inspection

8. Shop for homeowners insurance

9. Sign papers

Step 1: Figure out how much you can afford

What you can afford depends on your income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, downpayment and the interest rate. Online calculators can help, but it is best to visit a lender to find out for sure. A housing counselor or your Coldwell Banker agent can help you figure out how to manage and pay off your debt, and start saving for a downpayment.

Step 2: Know your rights

Check with your Coldwell Banker agent for the laws applicable to buying real estate. Be informed about the total cost of your loan including the interest rate, points and other fees. Ask questions about charges and loan terms that you do not understand.

Step 3: Shop for a loan

Save money by doing your homework. Talk to several lenders, compare costs and interest rates, negotiate to get a better deal. Consider getting pre-approved for a loan.

Step 4: Learn about homebuying programs

Ask your Coldwell Banker agent about special programs to help you into home ownership.

Step 5: Shop for a home

Know your needs and wants. Check on extra fees, like homeowner association dues or assessments.

Step 6: Make an offer

Discuss the process with your Coldwell Banker real estate agent. If the seller counters your offer, you may need to negotiate until you both agree to the terms of the sale.

Step 7: Get a home inspection

Make your offer contingent on a home inspection. An inspection will tell you about the condition of the home, and can help you avoid buying a home that needs major repairs.

Step 8: Shop for homeowners insurance

Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance. Be sure to shop around.

Step 9: Sign papers

You’re finally ready to go to “settlement” or “closing.” Be sure to read everything before you sign, and ask questions of your Coldwell Banker Realtor or the real estate attorney if you don’t understand.