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Home ownership is a core component in establishing and living the American Dream. For most people, the ambition to acquire their own home is their most important goal, surpassing all others, and it is the primary influence and motivation for how they conduct their business, financial, and personal lives.

1. FIND THE RIGHT HOME FOR YOU


Before a prospective homeowner can begin the quest towards purchasing a home, there are many factors to consider, most of which are determined by some basic facts and assumptions. How big is your family? What neighborhoods are you willing to consider? Are schools a factor? Is a single-family home a requirement or is a condo an option? Based on your income and assets, what kind of home can you afford?

For some home buyers, living in a specific neighborhood takes precedence above all else, whereas for others, the home itself is more important. In a perfect world, you’d find the ideal home, in your neighborhood of choice, at a price you can afford, but realistically, most people will have to make some compromises.

Make a list of the features you want in a home–number of bedrooms, a fenced yard, granite countertops, a garage, etc.–and then rank them in terms of priorities. Decide whether the house or the neighborhood matters more to you, or whether you’re willing to make a longer commute in order to own a home with a larger lot. These kinds of decisions need to be made before beginning the search for your new home. Zillow.com is a great resource to view estimated home values, school information, crime stats and other important considerations. But don't place too much value on their "estimate" because often real world prices are different.

2. SAVE FOR A DOWN PAYMENT


Nearly all mortgage loans and lenders require some amount of cash as a down payment. The amount you've set aside for this will determine the kind of mortgage you qualify for. It will also impact how much you can afford to borrow for a home.

If you're searching for "how to buy a house" you've probably already put away some savings.

Most people will have to finance their home purchase by obtaining a home mortgage from a lending institution. The purpose of this article is to guide a potential home owner through all the steps that must be taken in order to qualify for a home mortgage loan.

3. CALCULATE WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD


Consider Your Income
Many banks will require that your monthly costs can't exceed a percentage of your income (for example 28%). That means if you earn $50,000 per year, your total monthly housing costs should not exceed $1166 (28% of your monthly income). Using a mortgage calculator you can use this number to figure out how much you can afford. 

Consider Your Debts
In addition to your income, if you have recurring debts, the total monthly payments on existing debt plus new payments for your mortgage may not be allowed to exceed a certain threshold (for example 41%). Using the example above that would mean that if your monthly debt payments are in excess of $541 per month (bringing your total debt of $541 + $1166 = $1708 or 41% in total)