Before you shop:
Be a smart consumer. Learn the financing basics. Know how to shop for a home loan that's right for you.
Get pre-approved. This takes very little time and lets you know the price range that fits your lifestyle.
Know what you want. The last thing you need is to close a deal and realize you bought a house you don't want. Ask yourself what you're looking for in a home, before you shop. Think about size, commute time and necessary repairs.
Keep your debt load to a minimum. Don't make major purchases or incur any additional debt until after your purchase. Pay down credit cards and don't apply for new ones. Remember, financial institutions evaluate your financial situation on your gross monthly income. Your total monthly house costs should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income.
Be prepared to view new properties quickly. Sometimes homes sell quickly, so be ready to make fast decisions. Be accessible to change the terms.
Have instant access to your agent. Instant communication can mean the difference in purchasing the property of your choice.
Before you buy:
Submit a strong competitive offer.
Include a substantial earnest money deposit. Sometimes offers are accepted based on the amount of the deposit.
Try to minimize the number of contingencies. Fewer contingencies mean a stronger offer.
Hire an inspector. A professional building inspector or appraiser will make sure the house of your choice is in satisfactory condition.
Check zoning regulations and covenants.Good residential neighborhoods will be zoned to keep out commercial and industrial users. Read any restrictive covenants and make sure they fit your lifestyle.
Request an updated property survey. Be sure it clearly marks boundaries. Check for problems.
Make sure you know what stays or goes.
Your contract should be very specific about which items (appliances, etc) are included in the sale.
Get agreements in writing. Make certain verbal agreements are written into the final contract to avoid any stressful and expensive issues later.