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Ready to buy or SELL a home?


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Navigating in Woods

  CreditSmart® Homebuyer U offers six modules, each focused on key learning principles to promote education, homebuyer preparedness and financial management. Get started now!


  We have a success plan for you, and it starts with some education. Far too often we work with people who have already picked out their dream home but have no idea if or how they can afford the home.

  For many people, this is likely the most important purchase of their life, and rightfully so. We recommend you put some time in and do it right.


  Taking time to understand the home buying process, how credit and mortgages work, and what your true needs and wants are will put you on the path to success. Let us guide you.


Let's take a few minutes to learn more about Home Ownership and You

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These learning tools will help you become an educated consumer in the Real Estate world.


Home Buying Kit for Dummies  Packed with valuable tips for getting the best deal on your new home and navigating an ever-changing housing market, it shows you how to find the right property, make smart financial decisions, and understand the latest lending requirements and tax implications.

St. Louis Public Library

St. Louis County Library



Buying your first Home  You'll find insights from 15 real estate professionals—brokers, attorneys, mortgage specialists, a home inspector, and more. It’s like having a team of experts by your side! Plus, read real-life stories of over 20 first-time home buyers.

St. Louis Public Library

St. Louis County Library


Buyer's Guide


Check Your Credit

  Get a copy of your credit report a few months BEFORE you begin shopping for a loan to ensure its accuracy. Have any mistakes you find corrected immediately. This is very important: do not make any large purchases or open any new lines of credit.  DO NOT APPLY FOR NEW CREDIT CARDS, AND DO NOT BUY A CAR. (Unless instructed by a professional, this is simply a good policy that generally helps in acquiring a loan.)

Understand Your Finances

  Get very familiar with your finances – your income, debts, savings, and monthly expenditures – to assess how much you may be able to afford.  When looking at your savings, remember to account for the down payment and closing costsGetting your financial environment in order is a hugely important step in the home buying or refinancing process. Use these resources to put yourself in a position to get the best loan possible with the least amount of difficulty. It all starts with a plan; it all starts right here.


Single-Family, Condominium, or Other?

  Determine the type of home you want for your lifestyle and budget.  Single-family home, condominium, or townhouse?  Ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the maintenance that can come with single-family living, or if you prefer the lower maintenance condominiums can provide.

Determine Your Location

  Where do you want to live – city, suburbs, or country?  How far are you willing to drive to and from work and school, as well as to and from your friends and family?  Location is one of the most important factors to consider when finding the right home.


  You will need a team to get your home bought efficiently and with the best terms. Buying a home is not the same a buying a cell phone, camera, or even a car. There are many legal procedures and documents to be worked through. Having a team that understands home values, contracts, and negotiations is essential. There are two main players who will form your team: your Lender and your Realtor.

Find a Real Estate Agent

  Your Real Estate Agent (a.k.a. Realtor) is your partner in the home buying process. It’s important to find someone who is experienced and with whom you feel comfortable.  If you don’t know any Real Estate Agents, reach out to friends, family, and colleagues for references. The role of the Real Estate Agent is to negotiate the price agreement between the buyer and the seller.  The Agent you choose will be your "Designated Agent" and will have an agreement for you to sign called the Required Buyer's Exclusive Agency Contract. It is a required form for all Realtors, and all Missouri Realtors use the same forms. This is the first contract that should be signed in working with your Realtor. You can expect your Realtor to send it to you digitally.

Find a Lender

  Your lender will play a significant role in your home buying experience. It’s important that you find someone who is trustworthy and offers competitive terms.  If you don’t have a lender, we have resources for youIt is best to speak with your lender, financial advisor, etc., before contacting a Realtor; knowing your true budget will allow you to save time and get the best result.



Get Pre-approved

  Acquiring a loan is the key to getting your new home. In this fast-paced market, you won’t have time to get your financing in place after you find your dream home; by that point, it will be long gone. Understanding your options regarding financial assistance, rates, and other terms is often overlooked but is very significant.


  To get pre-approved, you’ll complete your lender’s loan application form, providing them with important information about your credit report, debt, work history, down payment, and residential history.  If pre-approved, your lender will provide you with a pre-approval letter outlining how much you are qualified to borrow. Be sure to ask your lender how long this letter will remain valid (typically 60 days).


  Being pre-approved is a smart step to take when you are ready to put in an offer on a home. It shows sellers that you're a serious home buyer and that you can secure a mortgage, which makes it more likely that you'll complete your purchase of the home.

Start House Hunting

  Congratulations! It's time to go shopping for your new home.  Now that you have prepared yourself by laying a solid foundation, you are in a position to make an educated decision. Begin by creating a list of needs and a list of wants; it is very important to have your expectations in line with your finances. By creating a list that is true to your needs, you and your Realtor will be able to shop efficiently.


 Your Realtor will depend on quality input from you to find homes that meet your needs; in this day and age, no one has much time to drive around looking at homes that may be inappropriate for your needs.


  You will receive "listings" (homes that are for sale) from your Realtor. When you find a home that matches your criteria, use the Street View provided in the listings' apps or use Google Street View to check out the neighborhood to get a good idea if it looks like a street that you would like to live on.


Make Your Offer

  Your Real Estate Agent will help you determine an offer price that is fair, based on experience, and looking at comparable homes in the neighborhood. Your Agent will submit an offer letter to the seller’s agent that will include a deadline for them to respond (typically 1 to 2 days). This will need to be signed by you (the buyer), and you can expect to receive those documents digitally.

Negotiate the Offer

  The seller may counter your initial offer. Counteroffers typically include things like asking for more money or adjusting the date of closing.  Your agent will handle the discussions, negotiating on your behalf for the most favorable terms. 

Sign the Purchase Agreement

  Once you and the seller agree on the purchase price and other terms, all parties will sign the purchase agreement.  At this point, you are in a binding contract with the seller.

Secure Funding

  You’ll need to provide your lender with a copy of the signed purchase agreement.  At this time, you’ll work with your lender to finalize the loan application process to obtain final mortgage approval.


Conduct a Home Appraisal

  Your lender will schedule a professional appraiser to visit the home to determine its value. The value is based on the home’s condition and comparable homes in the neighborhood. The lender will want the appraised value to meet the value of the loan. It is strongly recommended that you make the home purchase contingent on the appraisal.

Conduct a Home Inspection

  Your Real Estate Agent will schedule a home inspection to determine the condition of the structure and report back on any significant repairs that are required or recommended. It is strongly recommended that you make the home purchase contingent on the home inspection.


  Once your loan is approved, your lender will schedule the closing – one of the most important parts of the home buying process.  Closing is the final step to homeownership that involves all parties signing final documents and legally transferring the property and keys to you.

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