1.) Get preapproved for a mortgage. Not only will this step help you compete against other buyers who have not been preapproved, but it will also ensure you only look at home's within your price range-saving you the trouble of falling in love with a home you can't afford. Your mortgage broker or lender will be able to get you preapproved before you start browsing homes.
2.) Think about what you need. Jotting down specifics regarding what you "need" in a home-as opposed to what you "want"-will help determine the types of homes you should be viewing. It's rarely possible, however, to find a perfect home for your needs, tastes and budget. While it's important to weigh your priorities before you start your home search, it's equally important to be flexible and willing to change your mind once you see what your true options are-viewing properties can shift your priorities. And remember that if you can only find place that require too many compromises, it's okay to keep looking-new homes come on the market daily!
3.) Look past the staging. Many sellers enlist staging professionals to help sell their homes faster and at a higher price. While this often makes listings more visually appealing to buyers, some major flaws may be covered up through staging. And while minor cosmetic issues can often be over come with a simple fix such as a coat of paint, larger, more costly issues can arise with a home if you don't notice poor conditions before you buy. Some things to look for include: leaks around plumbing fixtures and ceilings; stains on walls or ceilings; evidence of mold; poor workmanship on flooring; molding; windows and doors; or aging and worn seals around windows and doors.