- Get pre-qualified with a lender. This ensures you are not looking at houses you cannot afford, saving you time and frustration. In addition, any offer you make will be stronger if you can include a pre-approval letter with your offer. Most lenders will provide one free of charge.
- Shop lenders and don't always go for the best rate, customer service varies greatly among lenders and you want to be sure you get top service.
- Don't buy above your means. The general rule of thumb is to buy no more than 2.5 x your salary. In this economy, the last thing you need is additional stress in making a payment.
- Buy in a good school district. Even if you don't have kids in school, it protects your resale value.
- Use a Realtor. Not all sales agents are Realtors. The difference is that Realtors have to agree to abide by a code of ethics and receive ethics training every two years.
- Research first-time home buyer incentives and credit that may apply to you.