Are you considering buying your first home in 2018? Congratulations! Here are three simple tips that will put you in a much better position to buy.

Get Your Finances in Order Now.

Many real estate agents won’t work with buyers until they have been pre-approved for a loan, which means you need to be sure you qualify before starting your home search. Start by checking your credit score and credit report. Some credit card companies can tell you your score, and you can always use free credit score checking services online.

You’ll want to get copies of the actual reports from these companies. Make sure those reports show all your lines of credit and explain the reasons for your score. Next, go over every inch of that information. If you see any errors, start the correction process at least six months before you hope to buy. If you notice a high debt-to-income ratio, make an effort to start paying down your debts before shopping for a home.

Think About What You Want in a Neighborhood.

Many first-time home buyers make the mistake of focusing on the style of home they want rather than the location, but the area you’ll be moving into deserves as much attention as the house. And don’t skimp on the research if you don’t have kids. The quality of the local school system and the amount of kid-centered amenities can still impact the value of the home.

Look into how far the home is from important locations like grocery stores, gas stations, doctors offices or hospitals, and your place of work. If there are other things you consider important to quality of life, like movie theaters or green spaces, check on their locations too. Practice your commute during rush hour to get a sense of how long it would take. Consider visiting the neighborhood at different types of day to get a sense of how its activity and noise levels change.

Make Sure All Technology Works.

If you are looking at home with major new technology, like a home security system or mobile-controlled thermostats, do not assume that everything is in good working order. If possible check these gadgets yourself before considering the home seriously. If you have made an offer, ask your home inspector to look into their functionality.

If you find that a piece of technology is broken or seriously outdated, you have two main options: ask the sellers to replace it or ask for a credit you can replace the system yourself. Check with your real estate agent about with option is better for your situation.