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


Home Buyer's Handbook


The main steps in home buying are covered here. After you have studied the home-buying process, use this checklist to make sure you have done everything needed to buy the home of your dreams.

Step 1:

Before You Make an Offer...

  • Get your credit reports from all three national credit bureaus, and clear them up, if necessary.
  • Prequalify for a loan with one or more mortgage loan officers.
  • List the characteristics you want in a neighborhood and home.
  • Ask friends and family to recommend real estate agents and mortgage loan companies they've liked.

Step 2:

Make an Offer They Can't Refuse

  • Look at homes to familiarize yourself with home values and neighborhood characteristics.
  • Shop for loans by talking with several loan officers.
  • Get a good faith estimate from each loan officer you interview.
  • Gather your financial records so a lender can start the loan approval process.
  • Interview several real estate agents before you contract to work with one (if you plan to do so).
  • Zero in on the type of home you want (rambler, split level, Tudor, newly built).
  • Check the value of homes like the one you want to bid on.
  • Fill out a purchase agreement, and possibly hire an attorney to look it over. Remember, this is a legally binding document! Add contingencies, if necessary.
  • Pay earnest money (part of your down payment).

Step 3:

Your Offer is Accepted

  • Apply for a loan. Get a disclosure form. If your loan is approved, a lender will send you a commitment letter explaining the terms of the loan or contact you by phone.
  • If you have an inspection contingency, hire an inspector or contractor to examine the condition of the home you want to buy. Do it yourself, if you know a lot about construction.
  • If repairs are necessary, negotiate with the seller about who will pay for them, or cancel the purchase agreement, if you've reserved the right to do so.
  • Stay in touch with your loan officer while waiting for your loan approval. Have your records handy during this time.
  • Give your landlord notice if you currently rent.

Step 4:

The Closing

  • Choose and pay for homeowner's insurance for one year.
  • Make sure you have a closing agent or real estate attorney lined up to help with the closing.
  • Request to view closing documents one business day before closing (sooner if they are available).
  • Get a copy of the HUD-1 Settlement Statement from the closer one business day before closing. The HUD-1 lists all closing costs.
  • Contact the closing agent with questions or problems concerning fees listed. (Ask about any fees that don't match those listed on your good faith estimate.)
  • Inspect the property just prior to closing.
  • Get the deed to transfer ownership of the home from the seller.
  • Sign a promissory note stating that you’ll pay back the mortgage with monthly payments at a certain interest rate.
  • Pay the balance of your down payment and closing fees.
  • Pre-pay taxes and insurance to your escrow account if the terms of your loan require this.

Step 5:

You're a Homeowner!

  • Take your deed and Social Security number to the courthouse to file for homestead tax status.
  • Finish packing.
  • Move into your new home at the time you and the seller agreed upon and noted in the purchase agreement.
  • Put the utilities in your name.

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