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The Home Sale Process

It's never too early to think about how your home can best attract potential buyers! From basic repairs to home staging, and onward to holding open houses, hiring a real estate agent, making disclosures, and planning your move, you'll find lots of useful information here.

What to Expect During the Home Sale Process

Home Sellers: What to Expect at Closing

The closing is when a home seller transfers the property to the buyer, fully pays off any mortgages, and receives the sales proceeds.

Quitclaim deeds, grant deeds, warranty deeds, trust deeds—answers to frequently asked questions about deeds.

Home Buyer Wants More Time to Get Mortgage Financing: Should I Grant It?

Assessing whether it's the home buyer or the bank or mortgage lender that's causing the delay is a good starting point for deciding whether to give the buyer more time to finalize a loan.

Selling Your House FAQ

Tips for selling your house: setting the right price, timing the sale, and hiring an agent.

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From Escrow to Closing

Organizing Paperwork for Your Home Sale

Being organized is key to a successful (and sane) home sale.

Required Disclosures When Selling U.S. Real Estate

What you need to disclose to potential home buyers about your property.

What Paperwork Must I Give Buyers of My House That's in a Homeowners' Association?

Organizing all the documents you need specific to selling a house that belongs to the HOA.

Additional Resources

How to Arrange a Short-Term Rent-Back With Your Home Buyers

A rent-back agreement can be critical to ensuring that the sellers don't face a gap in housing if they close their sale before finding a new place to live.

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Buying a Home: The Process

Stephanie Faris

How to Buy a House

When you’re ready to make a move, the home purchase process that includes finding a place can be daunting. And, purchasing a place is far more involved than renting. By first understanding the steps of home buying, you can break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

How Homebuying Works

Buying a house can be summed up in a few phases. You’ll first find out how much of a home you can afford. If you’re paying cash, you already know that, but if you’re taking a loan, you can get preapproved by a lender to know the exact price range for your search.

In addition to a mortgage lender, a real estate agent is valuable for your search. You can look on your own, but a real estate agent will usually know about listings you can’t find yourself. The agent will also handle putting in an offer, negotiating and representing your interests during the closing process.

Lining Up Finances

The first thing you’ll do if you’re buying a house is make sure you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. Even if you’re borrowing the funds, there are some expenses you’ll have to pay yourself. You’ll need to make a payment when you put an offer on the house, known as earnest money, as well as paying closing costs and fees for a home inspection.

The biggest expense associated with a house, though, is the down payment. There are some ways you can cut down on that expense, but if you don’t put ​ 20 percent ​ down, you’ll have an extra expense on your mortgage called private mortgage insurance. It’s important to have a full tally of the costs before you start your home buying journey.

Finding a Real Estate Agent

One of the most important financial steps you’ll take in looking for a house is choosing a real estate agent. If you’re selling a home, you’ll either need an agent who can both handle the sale and purchase or two separate agents. The seller’s agent is called a listing agent, while the agent representing a home buyer is called a buyers agent.

Many home buyers rely on referrals for an agent, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best professional for your area. You can usually pull up a real estate agent’s broker website to see information like their past experience, sales history and current listings. An agent who has quite a few listings in your area and price range is likely to also know plenty of homes for sale and buyers in that price range who are looking.

Getting Preapproved for a Mortgage

Before you start shopping, you’ll first need to know how much of a home you can afford by exploring pre-qualification. Savvy home buyers get a preapproval from a reputable lender. You can look around online and compare interest rates and terms to find the one that’s likely to give you the best deal.

Once you’ve found a lender, ask for a preapproval letter. You can take this letter to your real estate agent to show that have pre-qualified and your financing has been lined up. This will show an agent that once you do find a house you like, you can get the financing necessary to buy it. It can sometimes help a buyer beat out other offers, too, as a seller is more likely to go with a deal with a low likelihood of falling through.

​ Read More: ​ Can I Make an Offer on a House If I Don't Have My Mortgage Approval?

Credit Score and Income Requirements

Lenders set their own credit score and income requirements. Generally speaking, though, you’ll need a FICO Score of at least ​ 620 ​ to qualify for a conventional loan. You’ll also need a debt-to-income ratio of no more than ​ 43 percent ​. That means your monthly bills must take up less than ​ 44 percent ​ of your gross monthly income.

First-time homebuyers may qualify for an FHA loan with a credit score as low as ​ 500 ​, but you’ll need a down payment of at least ​ 10 percent ​. If you have a score of ​ 580 ​ or above, you can get into a house with a down payment as low as ​ 3.5 percent ​.

​ Read More: ​ Low- and No-Down-Payment Mortgages: The Best Lenders in 2020

Looking at Available Homes

Shopping for a home is one of the best parts of the homebuying process. You’ll give your real estate agent a price range and some criteria, and that agent will send you listings that might interest you. You can also look at houses on your own, using real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia.

If you want a new home, you may also look into new subdivisions being built near you. Sometimes you can choose a lot and pick from a small number of exterior and interior design options. With a new home, be aware that sometimes you’ll have to wait.

Another popular listing technique for real estate agents is the open house. Open houses are typically held on weekends during a very specific timeframe. During this time, you can walk around in the house and ask the listing agent any questions. You don’t need your own agent to be present, but if you’re interested, you will need to loop your agent in.

Placing an Offer

The goal is to find your dream home during your search. When you do, it’s time to put an offer on the home. First, your real estate agent will draw up a formal offer for the seller’s agent to present to the homeowner. This is where the negotiation starts.

The homeowner will either accept the offer, reject it or make a counteroffer that you can either accept or reject. If you accept it, you won’t yet own the house. The listing will be marked as “pending” and a date for closing will be set.

Providing Earnest Money

To finalize your offer, you’ll need to put down something called earnest money . Your real estate agent will require a “good faith” deposit that shows the seller that you’re serious about buying the property. This amount can vary, but it’s typically between ​ 1 and 5 percent ​ of the purchase price of the home.

It's important to note that if you don’t follow through on the purchase, you could lose your earnest money. But otherwise, the money will go into an escrow account managed either by the title company or the seller’s real estate agent. At closing, this earnest money will either be applied to closing costs or down payment, or you’ll be given information on when you can expect to receive it back.

Getting a Good Loan

If you were preapproved, you already have a lender. But you still can shop around or go with a lender your real estate agent recommends. Look for the lowest interest rate, as well as down payment and closing cost requirements. Once you’ve signed, you’ll lock in an interest rate that will remain valid until closing.

It’s important during this time to avoid making any moves that can affect your credit score. Your lender will combine that with your debt-to-income ratio to decide whether to approve you for a loan. Your approval will be contingent on your financial situation not changing dramatically between approval and closing.

Understanding Mortgage Rates

When you take out a loan, the lender will charge you interest on the money you borrow, which is how it makes money on the deal. Mortgage rates are based on the performance of the U.S. economy and can change from one day to another. It can be tough to predict where interest rates might go during the weeks and months you’re looking for your dream home.

One of the most important things you can do in your home buying journey is to get a low interest rate. Even the smallest savings can pay off over the course of a ​ 15- ​ or ​ 30-year loan ​. When you’re preapproved for your loan, you’ll be quoted an interest rate, but that rate is subject to change between the time you’re preapproved and you make an offer.

When you place an offer and finalize your loan application, the lender will lock in your rate. This rate lock is good for a fixed period – typically ​ 30 days ​ – and guarantees that this will be the rate you’ll pay as long as you close before the time is up.

Inspections and Appraisals

In the days leading up to closing, you’ll be busy. You’ll need to answer any questions your mortgage lender might have, providing documentation where requested. Your real estate agent will give you a final date for closing, coordinating it with the seller’s agent, and you’ll need to begin making plans to move.

During this timeframe, you’ll also have both a home inspection and property appraisal done. The appraisal ensures the lender that the property is worth the amount you’re borrowing, and the inspection pinpoints any issues that the seller needs to fix before you can close. If you’re selling a home, you’ll also have to repair any issues the buyer finds on your home.

Down Payment for the Loan

At closing, you’ll need to pay a down payment, either by wiring the funds or by bringing a cashier’s check for the amount to closing. Your lender will give you the percent you’ll need to put down, but it can go as low as ​ 3 percent ​. With FHA loans, you’ll have to put at least ​ 3.5 percent ​ down.

If your down payment is lower than ​ 20 percent ​, your mortgage lender will add something called private mortgage insurance to your monthly payment. This protects the lender in case you default on the loan at some point. If you go this route, make sure you watch your loan and when you’ve paid off ​ 20 percent ​ of the principal, ask your lender to remove PMI.

Understanding Closing Costs

There are costs associated with processing a mortgage. Those fees are called “closing costs,” and your lender will list them in advance of the closing date. You can ask for the fees in advance if you want to make sure you have enough time to gather the funds.

You have two options with closing costs: you can pay them at closing or, if the lender allows, you can wrap them into your mortgage. If you choose the latter, you’ll be paying interest on them throughout the life of the loan. Closing costs include the following.

Understanding Your Mortgage

Once you’ve moved in, you’ll start paying off your mortgage loan. Your payment consists of the amount you borrowed, divided into monthly amounts, plus interest. But those aren’t the only two things you’ll see on the bill.

Built into your home are the fees for homeowners insurance and property taxes. These are put in an escrow account and paid when the bill comes due. At the end of the year, you’ll either get a bill for any shortage or a refund if the amount you paid went over what was due.

In the early months of your mortgage, the majority of your payment will go toward interest. This will naturally shrink over the years as your balance decreases, which means more of your payment will shift toward principal. If you stay in the home long enough, you’ll find that if you sell your house, you’ll have a nice payout that you can put toward a new house.

​ Read More: ​ How to Calculate Mortgage Interest

Home buying is a huge financial commitment but knowing your budget and working with a good real estate agent can make it easier. A house can be one of the best investments you ever make, provided you stay in the home and make payments until you owe less than it’s worth. The money you make on the sale will give you a headstart on your future housing purchases.

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a ghostwriter for a credit card processing service and has ghostwritten about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, Ecommerce Insiders, GoBankingRates, and ThriveBy30.

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Securing a Committee Assignment

Member Experiences

In Congress’ first years, the House frequently created committees on a case-by-case basis. Often a committee was formed to work on a bill and then disbanded once the bill had been reported to the House. As Congress wrestled with ever more complicated issues, however, it created permanent (or standing) committees that specialized in different policies.

Committee assignments can shape a Member’s tenure in Congress, and it can take some effort to secure a spot on a committee that deals with issues relevant to a Member's district. Representatives seek posts on committees with jurisdictions in areas in which they have expertise or that support the interests of their districts. The authority to assign committee seats, a powerful tool, has changed over the years.

Speaker Cannon’s Appointments

List of Committees and Vacancies

The powerful authority to assign Members to committees has changed over the years. For much of the nineteenth century the Speaker of the House determined each committee roster. By the twentieth century the parties controlled that process, making assignments from their respective memberships.

Next Section

Cite This Page

History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “Securing a Committee Assignment,” https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/How-the-House-Works/Working-in-Committee/Securing-a-Committee-Assignment/ (March 14, 2023)

For Additional Information

Office of the Historian Office of Art and Archives Attic, Thomas Jefferson Building Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 226-1300

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Frequently Asked Questions about Committees

What is the role of committees in the legislative process?

What happens at a committee hearing?

Can I attend Senate hearings?

What is the difference between a Standing Committee, a Joint Committee, and a Special or Select Committee?

Where can I find information about a committee's jurisdiction?

What if an issue is in the jurisdiction of multiple committees?

How are senators assigned to committees?

Where can I find a list of senators who have served as committee chairs?

Where can I find a current subcommittee membership list?

What is the difference between caucuses and committees?

Where do I find the current committee hearing and meeting schedule?

How do I find witness testimonies from committee hearings?

How do I request copies of a hearing's webcast?

What is a committee report?

How do I find committee reports?

Conference Committees

What is a conference committee?

How do I find conference reports?

Committees are essential to the effective operation of legislative bodies. Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction. Committees monitor on-going governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to the Senate.

For more information on the role of committees in the Senate, see the " Committees and Senate Rules " essay in the Committee System section of this website.

Hearings are a method by which committee members gather information. Business dealt with in hearings may be broadly classified into four types: legislative, oversight, investigative, and consideration of presidential nominations.

Most committee hearings and markup sessions are generally open to the public. In rare cases, usually to discuss national security issues, a committee will meet behind closed doors. The Senate’s meeting and hearing schedule is available at https://www.senate.gov/committees/hearings_meetings.htm .

Select and joint committees generally handle oversight or housekeeping responsibilities.

The different types of Senate committees are further explained in the Historical Overview essay in the Committee System section of this website.

A committee's jurisdiction can be found on its website . If the committee's jurisdiction is not listed on the site's homepage, then look under the subheadings "About the Committee" or "Committee Information."

Under Rule XVII most referral decisions are based on the “subject matter which predominates." Modern issues are complex, however, and it is not uncommon for measures to cross jurisdictional boundaries. Senate Rule XVII allows a measure to be referred to multiple committees for consideration. These measures can either be considered sequentially or simultaneously.

Each party assigns, by resolution, its own members to committees, and each committee distributes its members among subcommittees. The Senate places limits on the number and types of panels any one senator may serve on and chair. For more information on how senators are assigned to committees, read about committee assignments from the Senate Historical Office or Committee Assignment Process in the U.S. Senate: Democratic and Republican Party Procedures (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

A list of chairpersons of Senate standing committees (1789 to Present) is available on Senate.gov.

A list of a committee's current subcommittee membership can be found on Senate.gov under the Committees Membership & Assignments section . Simply choose a committee from the drop down list and then click on a subcommittee's link, this will take you to the current membership roster for that subcommittee.

Subcommittee membership can also be found in the Congressional Directory .

For additional information read the research guide How to find subcommittee membership rosters.

A caucus is an informal organization of members of the House or the Senate, or both, that exists to discuss issues of mutual concern and possibly to perform legislative research and policy planning for its members. There are regional, political or ideological, ethnic, and economic-based caucuses.

Caucuses differ from committees because committees are subsidiary organizations, established for the purpose of considering legislation, conducting hearings and investigations, or carrying out other assignments as instructed by the Senate.

In addition to individual committees' websites , the Senate website provides a list of upcoming meetings and hearings .

Shortly after a hearing takes place, most committees post witness testimony on their websites . These testimonies often do not include the question-and-answer portion of the hearing. However, committees do provide access to the webcast of the hearing which shows the hearing in its entirety. Hearings may also be published on GPO’s website .

For additional information see the research guide, How to find committee hearings .

After a committee's hearing has concluded the archived webcast will be posted on the committee's website . Contact the committee directly for information about requesting copies of a webcast.

Committee reports are documents produced by Senate committees that address investigations , committee business, and legislative or policy measures. There are different types of committee reports:

For more information about committee reporting, read the article on Congress.gov Committee Reports .

You can read the full text of recent committee and conference reports online from ( govinfo Committee Reports (GPO) or Congress.gov ) or find copies in a Federal Depository Library .  

For additional information on locating reports see the research guide, How to find committee reports and conference reports .

A conference committee is a temporary, ad hoc panel composed of House and Senate conferees formed for the purpose of reconciling differences in legislation that has passed both chambers. Conference committees are usually convened to resolve bicameral differences on major or controversial legislation.

You can read the full text of recent conference reports online on GPO's website or Congress.gov . Copies are also available in a Federal Depository Library . You also can read the full text of a conference report in the Congressional Record .

How to find committee reports and conference reports provides additional information on locating reports.

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Casey Botticello

Jul 31, 2019


Understanding The Congressional Committee Assignment Process

What is the freshman member assignment process and what are the possible congressional committees.

Most United States citizens have a hard time deciphering what actually happens in Congress. Despite its low legislative productivity rate , Congressman and their staffers actually perform quite a bit…

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🚀 Founder of BloggingGuide.com | Entrepreneur, Designer, Blogger | Join 100,000+ creators & learn how to make money writing online ➜ bloggingguide.substack.com

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Pretend you’re in Congress and we’ll give you a committee assignment

house committee assignment process

Congratulations, you’ve been elected by the voters in your House district to represent them in the 118th Congress. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start making legislation. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Well, not so fast. Joining a committee, where the bulk of legislation is drafted, is both a little bit art and a little bit science. Congressional committees serve as an opportunity for lawmakers to oversee some of the most pressing issues the country is facing and develop expertise in specific policy areas. And a prime committee assignment could alter the trajectory of a member of Congress, whether catapulting them into important legislative conversations or into the pop culture lexicon. (Oh, you’ve never seen a viral video from a Capitol Hill committee hearing? Of course you have.)

There are several steps to securing a committee assignment. First, your party’s steering committee — yes, that’s a committee to decide if you can join a committee — needs to recommend you for a specific assignment. Then, those recommendations are put to a vote by your party. After that, the two parties vote on those recommendations, and finally a resolution is introduced on the House floor to formalize the assignments.

So, let’s put you in the shoes of a lawmaker trying to decide where you might fit best. Answer these questions to see which committee would suit your interests, and then we’ll show you how the politicking begins.

house committee assignment process

Your region demographics

Question 1 of 6

Question 2 of 6, question 3 of 6.

house committee assignment process

Your interests and experience

Question 4 of 6

Select all that apply

Question 5 of 6

house committee assignment process

Networking in the House

Question 6 of 6

house committee assignment process

The art of politics

Other factors play into whether you’ll be assigned your preferred committee. To account for this, we’ll randomize how well known you are, how controversial you are and how well you work with others.

You are well-known .

You are controversial .

This is where more of the art, as opposed to the science, comes into play. Some factors that determine who gets which committee assignments happen far outside the halls of Congress. Whether you have a strong base of national supporters, are a political lightning rod or belong to the majority party can play a major role in who gets valued committee assignments. There are many other intangible factors in the process, including whether you’re a people person or a more solitary figure on the Hill.

You need to answer every question to see your result. You’re missing questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Illustrations by Jordan Awan. Design and development by Stephanie Hays and Irfan Uraizee. Copy editing by Mike Cirelli. Editing by Annah Aschbrenner and Kainaz Amaria. Design editing by Madison Walls.


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