Renae Stucki Realtor found an interesting article on about the essential things buyers need to do today when shopping for a home.  We’d like to discuss them here and why they’re so important.

1. DON’T MAKE AN OFFER WITHOUT PRE-APPROVAL: Getting pre-approved means a lender has vetted your credit and financials and is so far willing to continue the mortgage dance.  Pre-approval letters detail your purchasing power and provide sellers and real estate agents a degree of confidence they won’t get anywhere else.

“I don’t accept an offer without a pre-approval letter,” says Bill Gassett, a realtor in Franklin, MA with Re/Max Executive Realty.  “People are more cognizant of how important it is to have a qualified buyer.  Without an actual pre-approval, you’re really gambling.”

2. USE A REAL ESTATE AGENT: For many consumers, buying a home is the single biggest purchase they’ll ever make.  It’s something you’ll do maybe a handful of times.  It can pay to have an expert in your corner.

Real estate agents show homes, negotiate contracts and close deals every month.  They can help identify red flags and potential problems, all the while working to best match up properties to your unique needs.

The internet has certainly helped demystify and democratize the home buying process.  But consumers may still want an industry professional on their side.  Nearly 90% of home buyers use real estate agents and brokers according to the National Association of Realtors.

3. PUT DOWN ERNEST MONEY:  It’s customary, if not legally required, to provide a deposit when you make an offer on a home.  Known as earnest money, this deposit is typically 1 or 2% of the purchase price, although the amount can vary by location and other factors.

Consult with your agent to determine the right amount and quibble if you dare.  Earnest money follows in line with loan pre-approval – its another way to show a seller you’re a serious, legit buyer.

Be sure your agent includes contingencies in the sales contract that allow you to recoup the deposit in case the deal falls apart.  Common reasons include a bad appraisal, inspection issues or your inability to sell your current home.

4. SELL YOURSELF:  Don’t just submit a solid offer and cross your fingers if you’re shopping in a competitive real estate market.  Take every opportunity you get to tell your story and sell yourself.

Include a handwritten letter with your offer.  Ask your agent to convey your admiration for the property and your hopes and dreams to the listing agent.

“If you really want a property in a competitive environment or you need some special conditions, the personal touch still works,” said Brian Icenhower, CEO of Keller Williams Realty Kansas City North and national real estate trainer.  “Sellers don’t always just want to get the most proceeds out of their house.  Certain types of sellers want to know this is going to a good family.”

5. TOUR HOMES IN PERSON:  Mobile video technologies like Google Glass are ushering in a new era for home tours.  Cool tech and new apps can be a huge help for consumers moving to new states or service members purchasing homes during a deployment.

These tools will continue to supplement the shopping experience.  But nothing quite compares to the in-person experience, Gassatt said.

“People will use them to enhance what they’re already doing,” he said.  “There’s never going to be anything that will completely replace the touch and feel of going to a house.”

And there you have them.  The five essential rules to buying a home.  These rules can all be followed by contacting Renae Stucki and hiring her as your agent!