As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you might not be able to afford. You can also put yourself in the best possible position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Good homes move quickly and you’ll probably miss out if you’re not ready and a good pre-approval can take over a week sometimes. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head or miss out on the home of your dreams.

Choose your lender carefully. Stick with a local lender who you can get a recommendation for. Out of state internet lenders have a reputation of not closing on time and being cumbersome. I also don’t recommend the big national banks. They also have a reputation of needing 45 days or more to close. This might serve you just fine, but if your seller is in a hurry to get the deal done, and another buyer has a local lender who can close in 3 weeks, who you choose for your lender and what their reputation is can easily be the deciding factor.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood and take into account the activity of the local neighborhood. Your Realtor can help you with this and especially consider sales of similar style homes in the last three months.