Real Estate Resources

Homeownership is as much a lifestyle choice as it is an investment, and you have to make a lot of choices to be happy with both. From working with a real estate agent to navigating ongoing home maintenance, take time to understand the fundamentals of managing, buying, and selling real estate.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What credit score do you need to buy a house?

    Your credit score is an important factor in getting a home loan—and how much it will cost you. For conventional loans, required minimum credit scores range from 620 to 640, depending on the loan and the lender. Some loans backed by the U.S. government have lower minimum credit score requirements. For example, FHA-insured loans accept credit scores as low as 500, and VA-insured have no minimum requirements.

  • How long does it take to buy a house?

    On average it takes 49 days to close on a mortgage. But that’s just part of the process. There are preliminary steps to take, such as checking your credit and reviewing your finances. You’ll also need time to find and hire an agent or realtor, shop for a home to buy, and compare offers from lenders.

  • How much money do you need to buy a house?

    There are actually two parts to this question. First, you’ll need cash to cover the down payment. To avoid private mortgage insurance, that should be at least 20% of the purchase price, although you can certainly pay less. The average down payment is right around 6% of the price for first-time buyers, and some lenders accept down payments as low as 3.5%. Next, some lenders will also expect you to have several months of cash reserves—savings, investments, retirement accounts—that you can draw on for your mortgage and other expenses if you need to. 

  • When is the best time to buy a house?

    Home prices and inventory vary by the season, the week, and even the day of purchase. If you want the widest array of options to choose from, shop during late spring and early summer. That’s when inventory is at its peak. But if you’re looking for the best deal, shop in winter. You’ll have fewer homes to choose from, but there’ll be fewer buyers to compete with, while sellers are more eager to sell.

Key Terms

Explore Real Estate Resources

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Types of Real Estate Agents Compared to Real Estate Brokers
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Title Search
A real estate agent showing a pair of people a property, representing a headline that reads: Tips for creating a welcoming open-house atmosphere, with copy that reads: Don’t expect prospective buyer to remove shoes; Set out a food spread with a thank-you note; Leave the house; Make sure the property is neat and clutter-free; Don’t hurry the prospective buyer.
Helpful Tips for Showing Your Home
Protesters call for the elimination of rent requirements.
Modular home development. Prefab house. Fairborn, Dayton, Ohio
The Differences Between Modular Homes and Manufactured Homes
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Median vs. Average: What's the Difference?
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How Accurate Are Zillow Home Values?
How to Time Your Home Listing: Generally, it’s best to list as early as possible on a Friday Prime time for real estate agents to post on Multiple Listing Service is 12:01 am on a Friday On Mondays, people tend to think more about the upcoming work week than buying a home (Mondays are also when federal holidays occur) Weekend-working agents usually take Thursdays off The best time of month to post is the second week (after you’ve made your mortgage payment) Spring is usually considered the best time to list a home
The Best Time To Sell a House
Real estate agent handing house keys to a young couple in an empty living room
Promissory Note
a businesswoman and a couple shaking hands in a living room
A List of Rules for Home Buyers Working With Real Estate Agents
An older woman supervises a child washing produce in a sink in a tidy kitchen.
Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)
Tips for navigating a FSBO without an agent.
For Sale by Owner: What Is Involved In Buying a Home Without an Seller's Agent?
Sold Sign on House With Family in the Background
Types of Contract Contingencies for Homebuyers
Relator Showing House to Young Family
These Are the Best Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent
Couple with real estate agent signing contract in kitchen of new apartment
Tenancy In Common
Couple asking for loan
Seller and Buyer Prorations
 A flat-roofed ranch-style home sits proudly behind well-kept landscaping and shrubbery.
Buying a Home With Deed Restrictions
how much do real estate agents earn? Real estate agents’ earnings vary from $25,000 or less to more than $1 million annually. - Salaries are usually based on commission. Annual earnings depend on the amount of homes sold and the market in which the agent is selling. - The median pay was roughly $49,000 in 2020. Top producers earn more than the average agent, starting at $112,610 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Do Top Real Estate Agents Make per Year?
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Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
Image shows a bird-eye-view of a few homes on a property. Text reads: "Calculating the average price per square foot. Property A: $200,000/1,000 sq. ft. = $200 per sq. ft. Property B: $180,000/1,200 sq. ft. = $150 per sq. ft. Property C: $585,000/2,100 sq. ft. = $278 per sq. ft. // $628 per sq. ft. / 3 = $209 per sq. ft. "
How to Use Price Per Square Foot to Figure Home Values
Image shows three panels: a notary stamping a document; a woman walking with a backpack full of envelopes; and the third shows a home that's been sold. Text reads: "Typical notary fees: standard: $2-$20 per signature; mobile notaries may charge for travel; mortgage closings: $100+"
How Much Will It Cost To Get a Document Notarized?
Couple embracing in new home, realtor in background
An Explanation of What a Grantee Is in Real Estate
10 Steps to Prepare for a Home Inspection
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Gift of Equity
An auction ringperson calls bids to the auctioneer at an auction of foreclosed homes
How To Buy a House at Auction
Happy couple in new home laying on a group of couch cushions among moving boxes.
Why the Possession Date for Homebuyers Can Cause Controversy
A woman in red flannel sits in the open window of a cabin and gazes out with an expression of supreme contentment.
Freehold vs. Leasehold: What's the Difference?
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7 Ways HOA Dues Affect Your Finances
Man opening door to house with key lockbox on handle
Lockboxes Are Used By Agents to Access a Home
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Learn How Easements and Rights-of-Way Work
Couple looking into window with real estate listings
Clear Title
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Quitclaim Deed
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Deed of Trust
Image shows a small A-frame yellow house with a garden and trees beside it. There is also an open house sign. Text reads: "Preparing a property for an open house: remove all vehicles from driveway; open window coverings and turn on lamps; serve refreshments; do not use air freshener; play soft music; showcase photos of the property during other times of the year"
How to Hold a Successful Open House
Closeup of a man's hands signing a contract with a fountain pen
Why Homebuyers Can Walk Away from a Signed Contract
Couple signing a real estate contract with their agent
Alienation Clause in Real Estate
Family savings
How an Escalation Clause Can Harm a Home Seller
how to write a hardship letter: A hardship letter explains why a mortgage holder is defaulting on their loan and needs to sell their home for less than what they owe. It should address the following key points: how the current financial situation arose, what has changed in the real estate market since original financing, what you have done to try to improve your situation, and why it cannot be further improved. Do not use the letter as an outlet for anger, to criticize the bank, or to try to make a bargain or a political statement
Writing a Hardship Letter That Grants Relief
Civil engineer working with total station on a building's property site location
Understand the Legal Description of a Property
young family touring a home they wish to buy
Lis Pendens
Surveyors Measuring Land in Rural Scene
Do You Need a Land Survey (and How Much Does It Cost)?
Mother and daughter gardening outside home
How to Tell If the Recession is Over
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Why Is It So Important to Have a 'For Sale' Sign in the Yard?
A modern kitchen
How to Buy a Model Home From a Builder
Three people standing in a house, with two of the three shaking hands, with the silhouette of a person coming up the stairs, representing a headline that reads, "Buyer Etiquette Tips for an Open House"
Open House Etiquette for Home Buyers
Female Realtor Shaking Hands With Couple Interested In Buying House
Here Is a Quick Guide to Home Buyer Broker Agreements and Contracts
Couple negotiating a deal with a lender over a desktop with calculator
10 Questions to Ask Your Mortgage Broker or Lender
A house with foreclosure for sale sign in the front yard
Why a Foreclosed Home Sells for Less Than What You Offered the Bank
Hand holding a magnifying glass up to a model home representing home inspection
What Factors Figure Into the Cost of a Home Inspection?
A couple drinks coffee on back porch on sunny day
Real Estate Taxes vs. Property Taxes
A young couple is moving into their new home.
Buying a Home When Prices Are Falling Requires Strategy.
An older patio home with a porch out front
Patio Homes: Just Right for Empty Nesters and First-Time Buyers Alike
Image shows when the best time to buy a house is including Best Time For Options: May, June, and July Best For A Good Deal: Winter Best Day: December 26th Mondays Best Weeks: Week beginning September 22nd Week of October 27th
In the Market for a New House? Here’s the Best Time to Buy a Home
Street view shows a row of nearly identical houses, each with porches and stairs landing on the walk in front.
Zero-Lot-Line House
Exterior view of home for sale
Average Days on Market: Buyers Care How Long a Home Has Been for Sale.
A soldier and his wife review financial documents in a kitchen
Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans
Negotiate a counteroffer to get the home of your dreams
How to Deal with Counteroffer When Buying or Selling a Home
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Before You Sign a Buyer-Broker Agreement
Multi-colored apartment units
How Can a Comparative Market Analysis Help Sell My Home?

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