1. Be ready with your financing
With mortgage companies folding and banks having serious jitters, "deals are falling apart at the last minute because people cannot get financing," says Provincetown developer and realtor Cassandra Benson. "If you get solid preapproval from a bank, it can allow you to act quickly when you do find the deal you want." It can also lend credibility to your offer if there's competition for the house you like. "You want the sellers to know that if they accept your offer," says Giacalone, "they'll have no trouble closing the deal."