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Buying a home is a complicated process, and it can be particularly daunting for the first-timer.

The following timeline starts one year before you hope to start seriously shopping for a home. This is an ideal; you can arrange your finances and buy a home in less time, if necessary, but you'd be smart to walk through all of the steps in order. The more time you give yourself for this process, the better.

A year out (or as soon as possible)


Get your credit reports. Errors on your reports can force you to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage or even torpedo your chances...