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The Guide to Buying a Home: Web-Only Resources

Blueprint, January/February 2008

American Society of Home Inspectors (, National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (, National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. ( These are the three main nationally recognized associations for licensed home inspectors, each with slightly different guidelines and standards, but all are generally respected. You'll be able to find certified home inspectors for your area on any of these sites.

Federal Housing Administration ( Check out the "Homebuyers: Resources" section of this Web site and you'll find informational videos on buying a house, a list of your rights as a buyer, articles on topics like how to avoid predatory lenders and helpful info about both FHA and non-FHA loans.

National Association of Mortgage Brokers ( This is the only national trade association that represents mortgage brokers and has its own required standards of practice. Its site will help you find a mortgage broker near you, as well as articles, legislation, etc., related to mortgages and consumers.

National Association of Realtors ( In the "Home Buyers and Sellers" section of this site, you will find guides to buying and selling, search engines to help you find a local Realtor, tips on things like how to hire an inspector, even advice on how to buy international properties.

National Council of State Housing Agencies ( Click on "Contact your state Housing Finance Agency for housing help" to get info on government-funded financial help in your area.

U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development ( The "Buying a Home" section includes topics such as "Know Your Rights," "Learn About Home Buying Programs," "Shop for Homeowners Insurance" and many others.

U.S. Government Consumer Information Center -- Housing ( The Housing section of the U.S. Government Consumer Information Center has online pamphlets covering various aspects of home ownership such as mortgages, home improvements and safety tips.

Websites Obtain your free credit report here. Click on the "For Home Buyers and Home Owners: Resources" section and you'll find various real estate calculators, glossaries, information on which housing counselors and agencies you might want to work with, and access to "reverse mortgage counselors," who can let you know your eligibility for financing options related to the Federal National Mortgage Association. This site goes in depth to help you pick the right location for your move, including tools like a salary calculator, vital statistics on what it's like to live in different cities, moving tips and how to pick the right school district. This is a great resource to help you calculate whether you can afford a place in one of nine major U.S. cities -- it will give you a very detailed list of your monthly charges, your down payment and interest, as well as an estimate of closing fees. Includes tips on building your home, how to buy a manufactured home, how to find home plans, pick a mover, etc. This site offers numerous tools, indices, calculators and articles on all aspects of the mortgage process, as well as in-depth info on the many different types of loans available today -- not affiliated with any specific lenders. Run by an actual professor of finance (Jack M. Guttentag of University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School), this site has all types of mortgage-related tips, tools, articles, spreadsheets and even an area where you can ask your own questions. This ultra-comprehensive site includes info on every single step of the home buying process, including less obvious things like "Looking Ahead: Buyer's Remorse" "When Your Home's Value Is Less than the Mortgage" and "The Business Cycle and Buying a Home" as well as the more typical calculators, listings and property values.

Offers checklists, "to do" lists, negotiating hints, tools and links to helpful info for first-time home buyers. The most comprehensive national market listing site available to the public, this site allows you to search for other properties that have sold in your area, as well as get a feel for what your current home is worth.

"The Complete Guide to Your Real Estate Closing: Answers to All Your Questions - From Opening Escrow, to Negotiating Fees, to Signing the Closing Papers" by Sandy Gadow. A simple guide that explains the complicated process of closing -- each person’s role, what the different documents are, the ins and outs of title insurance and more.

"The First-Time Homeowner's Handbook: A Complete Guide and Workbook for the First-Time Home Buyer" by Joe Adamaitis. Includes everything from budgeting to home values to house building to financing strategies.

"The Grissim Ratings Guide to Manufactured Homes" by John Grissim. This is the "essential buyer's resource" for manufactured homes, including builders, their histories, products, price ranges and ratings, from one of the leading experts in the field.

"The National Association of Realtors Guide to Home Buying" by Blanche Evans. Includes tips for every step of the buying process, checklists, guides and advice on mortgages and negotiating.

"Mortgage Ripoffs and Money Savers: An Industry Insider Explains How to Save Thousands on Your Mortgage or Re-Fi" by Carolyn Warren. Reveals insider mortgage secrets, including behind the scenes dealings in the mortgage industry and tips on how not to get screwed by your lender.

"Prefabulous: The House of Your Dreams Delivered Fresh from the Factory" by Sherri Koones. A beautiful, fact-filled book about factory-built homes, detailing the different types, designs and options available around the country, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of prefab housing.

"Tips and Traps When Buying a Home" by Robert Irwin. One of numerous helpful books by Irwin, a licensed real-estate broker and leading real-estate expert, this one is the ultimate, with tips like "don't begin negotiations on your first visit" and "traps" like "pay special attention to the lighting when you first walk in."

"You Can Negotiate Anything" by Herb Cohen. How to get what you want without too much compromise -- and make everyone else feel like they're getting what they want, too.

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