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. Sub-primes may be history, but youll probably still be shown homes you cant actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. 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.

Choose your mortgage carefully.  Shop mortgage lenders and compare rates and programs each offer.  Not every mortgage lender or broker have the same programs. 

Do your homework before making an offer. Work with your agent to research the market on similar homes and sales trends in the neighborhood.  Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three to six months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.