Find out how much you can afford, and stay within your budget. Don't overreach. Focus on finding something that will offer affordable monthly payments and a debt load you can handle. To make sure you fully understand and remain within your boundaries, consider a preapproved mortgage. The preapproval process tells you exactly what you will have to pay. Preapproval also provides some extra peace of mind, ensuring that when the time comes, you'll have financing in place.
Shop around for the right agent. Real-estate agents operate on different internal clocks. One may be inclined to call you every day, while another may want to call every few weeks. Ask questions about the agent's approach and try to find one well-suited to your situation. Look for the Realtor who is working the most. What's their level of experience? Are they a good fit with you personality-wise?
Do your homework. Buyers need to research their potential new home and neighborhood as thoroughly as possible. Thankfully, a lot of that work can be done from your bedroom or office computer. You'll find the Net is packed with resources about cities, neighborhoods, crime statistics and school districts.
Visit the neighborhood. Rich as the information on the Internet is, it's no substitute for showing up. Walk around. Shoot the breeze with the neighbors. Visit the community several times at different times of day.
Don't be afraid to haggle. How low can you go? It all depends on the pressures facing the individual seller. Some of those pressures are related to particular locations -- towns go up and down in appeal -- and some have to do with the individual's situation.
Buying foreclosed properties? Proceed with caution. This gets a bit tricky. Under the right circumstances, exploitation of a foreclosure can give a buyer a nice home at a very nice price. Though buying a foreclosed property can potentially provide big savings, it can also present a lot of problems that may not be apparent. Avoid homes with title uncertainties and consider only properties that have been officially foreclosed on and deeded back to the foreclosing bank.
Find the right lender and mortgage. Find a lender with roots in the community and a record of integrity that offers reasonable rates. Real-estate agents can be a good source. A good agent should be able to recommend reputable area lenders and help a buyer compare types of loans.
Find a good home inspector. A good inspector can help you spot problems that may result from neglect. Bringing in a home inspector is relatively cheap, and it's the least buyers should do to make sure they're purchasing a home in reasonably good shape.
Buy for the long run. Homebuying should be viewed as a long-term investment. Buy a home you can live in happily for a good many years, if possible. A long-term commitment will pay dividends in peace of mind.
Don't time the market. Do take your time. When will market prices hit rock-bottom? No one knows for sure, so waiting to get in at the lowest possible price isn't recommended.