Americans move to new homes about every seven years. That means that every seven years, people just like you are driving around neighborhoods, checking out schools, walking through complete strangers' homes, talking with bankers, and spending large amounts of money (i.e., keeping the economy rolling). The process is a long and sometimes difficult one, but also one that can bring with it a lot of excitement and joy if you find your dream home and can afford it.

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we're going to go through the steps involved in a search for the perfect home. For instance, do you really need a realtor? Why do you need to be pre-approved by a bank? How do you negotiate the deal? And, how do you keep from getting a lemon?