Congratulations. You’ve decided to buy a house in Michigan. It’s an exciting time, but also one full of trepidation as you think about making such a huge investment. There’s a lot to consider and do when you buy a home.

Here are some tips to prepare you for the process that awaits you. You’ll need to have your ducks in line before you buy the house.

  1. Find out your credit score. The higher your credit score, the better chance you have of securing a mortgage loan with favorable terms.
  2. Team up with a real estate agent. Ask friends who have bought homes for recommendations. There is nothing wrong with interviewing more than one agent. This person is going to be working with you, and on your behalf, as you go through the home-buying process, and you’ll want to be comfortable with your agent.
  3. Shop around for mortgage rates. Meet with a lender before going home shopping. It will be easier to buy a home if you know just how much of a loan you qualify for and already have a preapproval letter in hand.

Once you have that preapproval letter in your pocket and your agent by your side, go out and house shop. When you find the perfect house, make an offer after looking at the history of sales prices of comparable homes in the area. Those comps will help you to discover a fair asking price.

You will need to sign a purchase agreement once the price is settled. While Michigan law doesn’t require an attorney to close a real estate sale, it is to your benefit to have an attorney review all paperwork before you sign. Prior to signing, you will need to get the property inspected. There could be hidden issues that require your asking the seller to either repair or make a cash concession in lieu or repairs.

Don’t forget to have the title checked to make sure no one else has a claim on the property. Unpaid property taxes or a lien on the property could affect the sale at best. At worst, you could be forced to assume those debts if you buy the property without a title check. Before you sign the loan documents and final purchase contract have your attorney review the contract to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises.