First, you will need to find out about the real estate market in your area. Sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com can give you a feel for the cost of a house or condominium. While you can learn a lot by browsing online, you also want to visit homes in person to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Second, you want to familiarize yourself with the financing process. A mortgage allows you to borrow money with real estate as collateral, especially if you are borrowing the money in order to buy the real estate that you will use as collateral. Lenders like Quicken Loans, Wells Fargo, and Citibank can provide you with the loan, but they will want to learn about you before they sign a contract. One important part of information is your credit score.
You can find out yours for free from AnnualCreditReport.com, which draws from the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. One advantage of using this site is that, under federal law, it is required to offer everyone one free credit report per year from each of the major agencies. If you go directly to one of the agencies, you may end up paying fees.
Third, you will need to negotiate for a house as you negotiate for a mortgage. The harder you negotiate for both the house and the mortage, the more money you will save.
Fourth, once you have the house and you mortgage, you will need to stay current with payments.
If you are even a couple days late with payments each month, late fees can pile up, making your mortgage more expensive and increasing your chances of foreclosure, also known as default. Failure to stay current can lead to foreclosure, in which the bank takes your house back and your credit score takes a major hit. However, if you stay current with payments, mortgages are a great way to make homeownership affordable and achievable.
Fifth, you may wish to consider refinancing at some point during your mortgage. If interest rates have fallen since you took out your mortgage, refinancing allows you to take out a new mortgage. The new mortgage repays your old mortgages and, though the remaining principal of mortgage stays the same, your payments will decrease given the new, lower interest rate.