If you're considering buying a home, here's a checklist of some of the things you should be on the lookout for:

Check your credit rating – Before applying for a loan, pre-check your credit rating to make sure there are no surprises. The advantage of the pre-check is that it gives you time to get the report corrected before approaching a lender. If there are credit blemishes in your record that can't be removed, you will know they are there and be prepared with an explanation.

Get pre-qualified – Before starting to look for a home, consult with your mortgage broker to see just how large a mortgage you qualify for. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a home you can't afford. Nothing less expensive will ever seem as nice.

Get pre-approved – Apply for a mortgage and obtain a commitment from your lender, in writing, to fund your loan as long as the home you buy appraises for that loan amount. Costs for pre-approval are nominal and can usually be paid when the loan is closed.

Prepare a reality list plus a wish list – The two lists should detail everything you want in the home such as a spa, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, air conditioning, etc. The reality list includes everything you can't live without and the wish list includes only the "frills". If you get everything on the reality list and some of the items from the wish list are within budget, you will be doing very well.