Working with the Real Estate Broker that is right for you will be one of the most important decisions you make in the home buying process. Whomever you choose will be responsible for guiding you through the transaction and should be someone who you believe will work in your best interest and has the knowledge to serve you well. I believe that buyers should speak with at least a few different Agents before making the decision.
Getting Pre Approval -If you want to look at homes it helps to know what you can afford. Go and get pre approved for free with a lender, this will payoff because you won't waste time looking at houses that aren't in your price range and because in most of Snohomish and King County sellers will expect a pre approval letter before considering your offer.
Correct your credit - Go over your credit report and make sure there are no errors, if there are errors be sure to have them corrected. If you are facing credit issues that are legitimate you will want to work to clear those up, get in contact with a lender or financial adviser, come up with a plan and stick to it! You may not realize that you can actually purchase a home once you address those issues.
Compare Lenders - When choosing a lender to work with you should explore different options before deciding what will be best for you. When you are looking at pricing keep in mind interest rates, appraisal fees, application fees, closing costs, ect. However, also remember that money isn't all there is to it when it comes to a lender. They are responsible for funding the transaction and can be the difference between a smooth transaction and a messy one, look for someone who is on top of things, easy to get a hold of and has good communication skills.
Budget - you may very well be approved for more money than you should spend. Even with a pre approval, take some time to look at what the payments would work out to be and decide where you're comfortable with your budget rather than using the full pre approval amount.
Stay ahead of the game - In the Greater Seattle market we are seeing homes "fly off the shelf", you need to be ready to jump on opportunity. Make sure you are working with an agent who is reliable and easy to get a hold of, if you have to wait a day to hear back from them you may have already missed the property. You will also want to have a clear idea of what you are looking for and be ready to make a decision when the time comes.
Making a competitive offer - Make sure your offer is competitive. You can make a more appealing offer by waiving contingencies, also including a larger earnest money deposit will let the seller know that you have the intention to close the deal.