Get preapproved for a mortgage
For serious home shoppers, "the No. 1 thing is they better have everything in order," says Dick Gaylord, broker with Re/Max Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, California, and former president of the National Association of Realtors. That means that, before the real home shopping begins, you want to get financing in place, he says.
Improve your chances by: getting financing in place "before you walk through the first house," Gaylord says. Otherwise, he asks, "How do you know how much you can afford?"