Timeline for the homebuyer tax credit
As soon as possible (definitely by mid-March):
Find a mortgage lender, if you're going to borrow money to buy the home. You can look for the best interest rate by searching Bankrate's rate tables. When you find a suitable lender, get prequalified so you'll know how much you'll be able to borrow. "The first thing they need to do is make sure they can get a mortgage," Garfinkel says. "Otherwise, they're wasting their time, and time is real valuable right now."
He adds that move-up buyers "are going to be in for a rude awakening" if they believe that getting a home loan is the same process that it was a few years ago. "It used to be that just about anyone could get a mortgage. Well, that's just not the case anymore."