Buying a Home

Learn how to find a home, make an offer, and close a sale. Discover money and time-saving tips that help you avoid common home-buying mistakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can I buy a two-family home and convert it?

    Yes, you can convert a two-family home into a single-family dwelling. Many two-family buildings were once one-family houses, and it is possible to convert them back. You will need to be prepared to spend money on renovations that may include hiring structural engineers if you are moving walls or stairs. Turning a two-family home into a one-family home could be expensive to renovate depending on the size and scale of the renovations needed to convert it.

  • Is buying a bigger home a better investment?

    Buying a bigger home will usually cost you more in mortgage payments and property taxes than a smaller, fixer-upper home. The question of return on investment depends on several factors, such as real estate trends at the time you want to sell, where your home is located, and how much equity you can accrue while you live in it. Smaller can still be expensive if you buy a modern home with a variety of fancy upgrades on a large piece of property.

  • How accurate are Redfin and Zillow home value estimates?

    Both companies claim they are highly accurate, with a median error rate of 2.28% for on-market homes for Redfin and a 1.9% error rate for Zillow as of 2021. That said, errors do happen, with outdated information a common reason for inaccurate estimates. If you have made major additions or renovations that don’t show up in the data collected on your home, then the estimates may be too low.

  • Are real estate commissions worth it?

    One of the biggest contentions about real estate fees is that they are too high, or that the service real estate agents deliver isn't worth the cost. If a home sells on the first day it's listed, the seller's agent could make a tidy sum for relatively little work. On the flip side, a home can also take weeks, months, or in the case of very unique or expensive houses, years to sell.

  • Are home warranties worth the cost?

    The improper maintenance clause common to warranties can mean a new homeowner isn’t really protected if something goes wrong and the previous owner hadn’t maintained the system properly. Rather than get a home warranty, it may make more sense to put premium payments into an emergency fund to use for any expenses that crop up.

  • How can I buy a house on a single income?

    Before applying for a mortgage, review your credit report and avoid any credit-busting major purchases. Consider a government-insured loan rather than a conventional mortgage if you have trouble making the down payment. Having a co-borrower on the loan can sometimes help you clear the underwriting hurdle.

Key Terms

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Buying a Home