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.
And the preapproval process is "much more extensive" than it was a few years ago, he says.
Bott agrees. "That documentation around income and assets is very essential, more so than in the last 5 years," she 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?"