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keys to the house buying your first home by Anh-Minh Le | 1 2 3 4 

It's been about six months since Jon and I -- just a few weeks into our marriage -- bought our first house. We had heard about the bidding wars with potential buyers offering 25% over asking price. We were well aware that there were run-down shacks going for close to a million dollars in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were told that we should write essays to try to sway sellers our way. We had friends who took six months to a year to finally buy a place.

So you can imagine our surprise when our first offer on a place was accepted. We had prepared ourselves for the heartache of multiple rejections, and suddenly found ourselves having to prepare for home ownership.

Prior to our buying experience, I had envisioned the process as being scary and overwhelming. There were so many words and phrases I didn't know or understand (and still don't!). When the mortgage lender asked if we had considered an interest-only loan, I told him I hadn't -- because I had no idea what he was talking about.

From the time we initially spoke to our lender until the day we closed on our house -- about a six-week period -- we learned a lot. And I'm here to tell you that it wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. In fact, although there was plenty that was new to us, we were able to ask around and easily get the information we needed.

So now, for others who are considering buying, I feel like it is my duty to pass along what I learned. This is by no means a complete picture of the process, nor will it all be applicable to every situation, as states have varying rules when it comes to home-buying. But hopefully, it will give you a glimpse into how the process works… and maybe ease any fears you may have about jumping on the property bandwagon.

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