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Humbling. Exhausting. Overwhelming. These are a few of the words Times readers used to describe their experience buying a house. Emotional. Exhilarating. Epic — those too. Use this guide to smooth the path to your first Southern California home with step-by-step expert advice, tips from successful home buyers and more. Let’s get started >>

What type of mortgage is best? How can I avoid the Zillow doom-scroll? And more of your questions answered. Plus: We built a calculator to help you nail down what you can afford to buy.

Step-By-Step Guide

Here’s how to figure out how much you can spend on a home, whether to go for the maximum loan amount and how to get a mortgage if you’re self-employed.

It’s the largest sum of money you’ll probably ever borrow, so be informed. Know the loan types, find a good lender and don’t fret: 20% down is a myth.

Home-scrolling is a popular pastime in Southern California. Make the most of your precious hours with this rundown of real estate search sites.

The L.A. area is awash with agents — some in your family and friend circles, on TikTok, even on reality TV. Here’s how to make sure they’re working for you.

One buyer compared California open houses to speed dating. Enter the fray knowing what to ask and look for. Bonus: a printable checklist.

Get preapproved instead of prequalified, know how to handle contingencies and make an offer without baring your soul.

Offer accepted? You made it! Almost. Brace yourself for the most confusing stage of this process: escrow. We’ll walk you across the finish line.

Congratulations, new homeowner! Behind that door are hidden costs and repairs. Prepare for them with these tips, and happy nesting.

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