hen shopping for a home in a hot seller's market, it's important to move quickly when you spot a good deal. But if you don't know how much you can afford, where you want to live, and what your "must have" items are, you may see that home slip away to another, better prepared, buyer.
First, get pre-approved for your mortgage. The lender will tell you how much you can afford based on what your salary, debt, and how much you have available for your down payment and closing costs.
Next, thoroughly investigate your prospective neighborhoods. Visit local shops, schools, figure out commuting and transportation routes, and walk the streets. If you don't love the neighborhood, you'll never love living there.
Finally, it's nice to know what you "want" in a home, but it's more important to know what you can't live without. Write down these "must have" items and cross off any house that doesn't meet your needs.
Ilyce Glink is the bestselling author of 100 Questions Every First Time Home Buyer Should Ask, and is the Managing Editor of Right at Home Daily.