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Get Pre-Approved First!

Don't buy your new home until you have sold your current home.

This is generally sound advice unless you live in an extremely hot market and your Realtor is sure you'll be able to sell your home quickly. Timing is crucial, so start working with your agent to find a new home as soon as yours is listed. With a little bit of luck, the day you accept an offer on your home, you'll be able to make an offer on a new home and close both deals on the same day. At worst, you may have to live in a rental for a couple of months, but most people agree that moving twice is preferable to being stuck with two mortgage payments!

Figure out your finances.

That means determining how much money you can raise for your down payment and how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. Go to a reputable lender to find out the size of mortgage you qualify for and get pre-approved. Better yet, use a professional mortgage broker to find you the best mortgage rate possible. When calculating the costs of home ownership, remember to plan for homeowner's insurance, property taxes, private mortgage insurance (if required), utilities, repairs, and maintenance.  Let your Realtor assist you in this effort.