Spring home-buying guide: 6 ways to do it right

It's peak home-buying season. Even though buyers have a greater advantage than they've had in awhile, it's still easy to take a wrong, frustrating and costly turn. Here are six ways to make sure you don't.

Housing forecast: 100 biggest markets
These are the 100 largest markets according to the 2000 Census. Price growth forecast is for April 2007 April 2008 from Fiserv Lending Solutions.
McAllen, Texas $130,000 9.8%
Tulsa $135,000 4.3%
El Paso $130,000 4.2%
Scranton $118,000 3.9%
Rochester, N.Y. $122,000 3.7%
Buffalo/Niagra Falls $106,000 3.7%
Fort Worth/Arlington $150,000 3.6%
Baton Rouge $178,000 3.6%
Dallas $151,000 3.6%
Birmingham $165,000 3.6%
For full table click here.
Get the home appraised
Why you need one: Your mortgage lender will require an appraisal (and hire its own appraiser) to make sure the value of the house you want to buy is worth at least as much as the sales price. The appraiser will consider, among other things, the quality of construction and comparable data from the sales of homes in the same neighborhood.

When the appraisal takes place: After the contract is signed.

When the appraised price is lower than the sales price: If the lender's appraiser deems the house worth less than the sales price you've negotiated with the seller, you need to renegotiate the contract with the seller. Either the seller will need to lower the price to satisfy the lender and hence, allow you to secure a mortgage. Or you can back out of the deal if you can't afford the home by paying for the difference between the appraised price and the sales price yourself.

If the appraised value comes in above the sales price, however, you needn't do anything but enjoy the fact that you got yourself a good deal.

Cost: Even though the lender orders the appraisal, you will have to pay for it. Typically appraisals run between $300 and $600 for a single-family home, depending where you live, said Donald Kelly, spokesman for the Appraisal Institute.

Loan pre-approval

Buyer's agent

Real estate attorney

Written offer

House inspection

House appraisal
The good news: Rocky real estate markets mean home shoppers finally have the upper hand. (more)
National Association of Realtors cuts 2007 forecast; would mark first drop since it began tracking values in 1968. (more)
Wondering how home prices got so high - and why they now have to fall? Here’s the story of what hit you: an amorality play in four acts. Money Magazine reports. (more)

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.