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Hints From Heloise: The home-buying process

Dear Readers: Lots of folks are buying homes right now! Whether it’s because of quarantine and we are realizing how small or ill-suited our current homes are, or if it’s because interest rates are low, now is a good time to consider homeownership.

Let’s start a series on the 411 of buying a home. What are the steps toward buying a home? Let’s take a look:

— Get prequalified for a mortgage loan to figure out how much home you can afford. Prequalification determines the top limit of a loan you can qualify for. You’ll supply a look at your financial history to the lender. This will include your income, assets, debts and credit score. (A preapproval is kind of the same, but it requires documentation and verification.)

— Meet with a Realtor and search for the perfect home.

— Make an offer on a property you like, negotiate and sign a purchase agreement.

— Next? Here comes the home inspection and appraisal.

— Now your home goes into underwriting; its progress is monitored by your loan officer.

— Finally? Your loan is approved; the deal is done. Sign on the dotted line, transfer the dollars, and move in! Whoop!

Next week, we’ll look at the do’s and don’ts of tightening up and cleaning up your credit before you go home shopping.

Dear Heloise: You write about learning about technology, maybe for the technology-challenged like me — ha-ha! But my hint? Just step away. Turn off the cellphone, the laptop, the desktop, the TV, the ear buds, and go outside.

Listen to the birds singing, throw the ball for the dog, feel the breeze on your skin and the sun on your face. Do this for at least 30 minutes per day.

— Martha A. in Utah

Martha A. in Utah: I completely agree with this.

Dear Heloise: I'm a teacher, and I'm teaching remotely now with the covid situation. My students communicate with me mainly through email, and I'd like to share some hints on email etiquette.

First off, the subject line: two to three words describing the reason for the email. For example, "Missing Assignment" or "Homework Question."

Next, a nice greeting: "Hello Mrs. Smith," "Good Morning" or similar. After, state the reason for the email: "I am confused by …" or "I am writing to you because …" Then a nice closing, such as "Thank you" or "Have a nice day." Finally, sign your name!

Grammar gurus will concur: Always use proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling, and spell out words; don't use cute abbreviations like "ur" or "plz." These are good habits to get into for future professional business writings, too.

— Mrs. Smith, San Antonio, Texas

Dear Heloise: My hint is to make it easy on yourself when getting your coronavirus vaccine, clothing-wise. Loose, breezy sleeves, tank tops and even those "cold shoulder" style tops provide easy access for health-care providers to administer the shot.

— Becky F. in Ohio

Fellas, short sleeves or tank tops for you. Rolled-up long sleeves are too bulky.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

2021, King Features Syndicate