State of Minnesota
More about
Attorney General
Lori Swanson


Minnesota Attorney General's Office

1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 296-3353
(800) 657-3787

M - F 8 am - 5 pm

TTY:(651) 297-7206
TTY:(800) 366-4812

Housing

Home Buyer's Handbook

Buying a home can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime — and one of the most stressful. After all, a home mortgage loan is the largest contract most of us will ever sign. Add to that the unfamiliar terminology and the endless stacks of legal documents, and it’s not surprising that many people are confused by the whole experience.

But buying a home doesn’t need to be a headache. In fact, with a little preparation and the right attitude, it can even be fun.

Contents:

SECTION ONE: Thinking About Buying a Home?

Can You Afford a House?
Loan Qualification Worksheet
Monthly Payment Tables
How Will You Ever Come Up with a Down Payment?
What Do Lenders Want from You?
What Is Underwriting?

SECTION TWO: Where Do You Want to Live?

What Do You Want in a House?
Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly
Needs and Wants Checklist

SECTION THREE: The Cast of Characters

How Do I Find an Agent?
Discrimination and Fair Lending

SECTION FOUR: Looking at Homes

Open Houses
Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”)
For Sale by Owner Publications
Shopping the Classifieds

SECTION FIVE: The Perfect Place

The Home Inspection
Making an Offer
Understanding the Purchase Agreement
Arbitration

SECTION SIX: Financing Your Home

Where Do You Find a Lender?
What Type of Loan Is Ideal for You?
Resources for Low-Income Buyers
Will You Need Mortgage Insurance?
BEWARE OF ABUSIVE AND PREDATORY LENDING
LOOK OUT FOR PREPAYMENT PENALTIES
How Can You Get the Lowest Loan Rate Possible?
Closing Cost Comparison Worksheet
The Property Appraisal
Understanding Your Loan Payment

SECTION SEVEN: Closing on Your Home

What Insurance Do You Need to Buy?
Closing Checklist

SECTION EIGHT: Know Your Rights

Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”)
Truth-in-Lending
Fair Credit Reporting Act

APPENDICES
APPENDIX A: Real Estate Agency Disclosures
APPENDIX B: Inspection Checklist
APPENDIX C: Sample Purchase Agreement
APPENDIX D: Sample Buyer's Contingency
APPENDIX E: Explanation of Closing Costs
APPENDIX F: Good Faith Estimate
APPENDIX G: HUD-1 Settlement Statement

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

A HOME BUYER’S SCHEDULE

Additional Consumer Information

Home Buyer's Handbook (PDF)