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.

Real Estate Resources

two kids running into an empty house. two adults are behind them, coming through the door.
A Step-By-Step Look at Buying a House
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

real estate agents vs. realtors: Both, realtors and real estate agents, must pass agent licensing requirements in their state. Realtors have gone one step further and passed the NAR Code of Ethics course to become members of the National Association of Realtors. Real estate agents are not members of the NAR, often because they don’t do enough business to justify the expense of membership.
Real Estate Agents vs. Realtors: What's the Difference?
An attorney discusses a sale with his clients
What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do (and Do You Need One)?
What Is Rent-to-Own?