Make sure you are secure in your job
The house-hunting climate may be favorable, but buyers need to be confident in their income stream before jumping into the real estate market. “If you are unsure about your [employment] outlook, there is nothing wrong with renting,” says Mike Larson of Weiss Research.
Spit-shine your credit
House hunters should consider getting preapproved by a lender before starting their search. “The idea is to try to work your way through the financing issues before you actually are ready to put an offer down,” says Guy Cecala, the publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance.
Gear up to get down
The financial turbulence of the past two years has driven the once popular “no money down” home loan into extinction. Although requirements vary depending on the borrower and the market, buyers will need a down payment of at least 3.5 percent.
Get wired
Joshua Dorkin, founder and CEO of BiggerPockets.com, a real-estate networking and information site, encourages home buyers to find a good real estate blog that covers the area that interests them. “You will get a nice localized perspective as to what’s going on in the neighborhood,” Dorkin says.

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10 Secrets of Off-Season Home Buying

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