Looking to buy a home in Williamsburg? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.

If you need help finding a loan officer, just let me know.

Find a house you can afford.

While the general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home is two-and-a-half times your annual salary, there are a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc. Naturally, it may be wise to discuss any concerns with your loan officer or financial advisor.

Hire a professional.

While the Internet, including real estate websites like this one, gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If you have any questions about the home-buying process or about specific properties for sale, never hesitate to contact me.

Do your homework.

Before making a bid, do some research on the area or neighborhood. Then with the help of your real estate professional, come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

Think long term.

Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools (for more information, go to schoolgrades.org). Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, I always recommend my clients hire a home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.