Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-qualified for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. If you have cash, make sure it is readily documented and available.  Cash does not mean the cash you will get from selling your existing home if that is what you are going to need to use to buy the next home. Be clear with your Realtor where the cash is coming from. 

Find a house you can afford.

   This is were it takes both a Realtor and a mortgage expert to  sit down for a consultation.  There is not just the cost of the home , there are closing costs, and the cost of maintaining a home.  Don’t go looking at homes until you have spent quality time with one or both of these professionals. 

Hire a professional.

While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit an exclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

Do your homework.

Ask your Realtor Consultant to show you the stats that back up the asking prices.  You have to decide if your Realtor is more knowledgeable in their business than you.  If you don’t believe them, then you need to do one of two things: find another Realtor, or wing it and hope for the best.  In real estate sales, there are facts and then there is emotion. Know which you are operating on.  Come up with an offering price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller (and the Realtor and maybe your family)  who are invested in  your success. 

Think long term.

Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.