First-Time Homebuyer's Guide

home for sale sign
home for sale sign

Mike Valdez fits the profile of a savvy first-time homebuyer perfectly. A 34-year-old financial analyst from New Rochelle, N.Y., he and his family had grown sick of living the renter's life. So two years ago he decided to test the market and find a townhouse for his growing family. But despite his financial aptitude, he quickly ran into a setback.

"We found a place we liked and ran the numbers," he says, but the young couple soon discovered that they had underestimated the burden of their college debt. They were forced to back out.

Mike's lesson goes to the heart of what every first-time homebuyer needs to know -- buying a home means so much more than paying a mortgage.