1. Get the right agent. A good agent can relieve some of the stress of house hunting. Once you have found somebody you like, make sure he or she is willing to communicate with you in the form you want (email, phone, text, etc.) and as often as you want.
2. Get preapproved for a loan. "A preapproval letter — or lack of one – can mean snagging or missing the perfect home," It helps you stay realistic about price, puts you more at ease during the process and gives you an edge over other bidders.
3. Don't look at too many homes. It's easy to get overwhelmed and confused if you look at too many homes or seek too many opinions from friends and relatives. Make a "must have" list for the features that are non-negotiable, versus just "wants" or "wishes,"and have your agent help narrow down the field.
4. Keep an open mind. More times than they can count, buyers will start a search looking for that perfect Craftsman bungalow only to find that the features and amenities they crave are in a sprawling midcentury ranch house. Be open to suggestions from your real-estate agent, who might show you something you didn't know you would love.
5. When you find a home you like, learn about the neighborhood. A large part of your satisfaction with daily life revolves around the amenities, schools and neighbors where you live. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day to determine if the over all neigborhood enviroment is to your liking.
6. Never buy without a home inspection. As many agents pointed out, you can't rely on what you see in a walk-through. Problems hide under carpeting and inside walls and attics. Always get that home you're buying checked over by a certified home inspector and follow through on any additional inspections he recommends.You'll be glad you did.
7. If you don't understand something, speak up. Ideally, your agent will have run through the homebuying process and inform you as what to expect at the outset of your search. But if you don't understand any part of the paperwork, process or terminology, ask for clairification. Don't allow what you are signing to could come back and haunt you.
8. Submit your highest and best offer upfront. In markets that are doing relatively well, prime properties often receive multiple offers. Make sure it's a realistic offer and submit it with a list of comparable sales to support it.
9. Be prepared to compromise. To come up with a winning bid, you might have to tailor it to a seller's needs, such as a longer or shorter close. Don't expect sellers to consent to repairs that amount to upgrades or remodel and don't lose a house you love over something small like carpet, appliances or countertops. It's not these things that will make or break your experience in a house, it's the big things such as layout, size and location.
10. Don't get emotional. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and tension of bidding. Be realistic with your price range, don't overextend yourself, and be comfortable with everyone in your transaction. Consider choosing a backup house that you like almost as much. It might take some of the pressure out of negotiations.