For 1st-Time Homebuyers: 3 Essential House-Hunting Guides

With spring buying season kicking into gear, first-time homebuyers face a market that is brimming with what could be once-in-a-lifetime deals.

Home prices are about 34 percent below where they sat just prior to the housing bust, and interest rates continue to hover near record lows. Affordability is the watchword of the day, and Barclays Capital echoes the views of many experts in saying "the spring selling season has arrived strongly enough to kick-start a positive feedback loop in housing for the first time since 2005."

If you're finally ready to take the homebuying plunge, here are three essential guides to read before you start shopping:

1. Homebuying: 5 Key Steps to Your 1st Real Estate Purchase

2. Home Affordability: How Much House (or Apartment) Can I Handle?

3. Home Costs: 4 Crucial Questions Reveal Hidden Expenses

More on AOL Real Estate:
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calculate mortgage payments.
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Find foreclosures in your area.

Learn about Buying a Home
Learn about Buying a Home