Goals

In Graphics: How to Buy a Home

After years of gloom-and-doom news on the real estate front, things may finally be picking up — at least according to the latest home sales numbers released by the National Association of Realtors. According to NAR, sales of existing homes rose for the third consecutive month in January and are now 5.3% above the levels registered in January 2010. First-time buyers still account for a good portion of sales activity, according to a parallel NAR practitioner survey: 29% of all sales in January, though down from 33% in December and 40% in January 2010 (when the first-time home buyer tax credit was still in place).

That many renters are making the big jump these days is not a surprise, considering where home prices are compared with, say, three years ago, and the fact that interest rates are still at historic lows. For many renters, now is the time to consider what was previously simply an unaffordable proposition.

That said, the process of buying a home has hardly gotten simpler. Between the day you begin your search and the day you actually get to hold your first very own house key, you will have to go through a series of complex steps and often frustrating procedures. We explain the process in this infographic.