The real estate market is a complex machine. In order to navigate through it and come out on the other side a winner, you will need to enter with precaution, and only after educating yourself. Here are seven things you should know about the real estate market before you attempt to buy or sell your home:

Mortgage Prequalifications are not the same as Preapprovals

Whether you are buying or selling, you should not take any offer seriously until you know you are working with a mortgage preapproval. A prequalification is simply an indication that approval is possible, which means there is no guarantee that it will actually turn into a loan (or a sale).

It’s the Appraisal that Counts

When it comes down to it, a bank will only lend money that is justified by a home appraisal. Therefore, in some ways, the appraised value of a home for sale is even more important than the asking price.

7 Things You Should Know About The Real Estate Market Before You Attempt To Buy Or Sell Your Home

The Sales Transaction may take much Longer than Expected

If you are working on a tight timeline, then this one’s for you: Your purchase or sale can take much longer–sometimes even a matter of months longer–than you might initially plan for. Many things can go wrong during a real estate sales transaction, so don’t short change yourself when it comes to allotting the time to complete it.

The Market Varies from Region to Region

This applies when comparing real estate in different states, counties, cities, or even neighborhoods. You can’t assume that it’s a buyers or sellers market in the specific area you are searching just because it’s that way in a nearby (or distant) locale.

Real Estate Agents can Save you Money

Many people mistakenly believe that it will cost more to purchase or sell a home if they must pay a real estate agent commission. However, statistically speaking, the opposite is true. Going through a real estate agent can ultimately help you keep, or put, more in your wallet.

Real Estate Commissions are Negotiable

They may also vary from agent to agent, and brokerage to brokerage. This means you should shop around, and never be afraid to ask for a discounted commission fee.

Don’t Purchase without a Home Inspection

You might be surprised to find that many mortgage lenders will provide financing for a home even without proof of inspection. This means that you can purchase a home without paying for such a service. While this can save you some time and money right now, it can end up costing you a lot more than that in the long run. Get a thorough home inspection before you commit to buy. Sometimes that’s the only way to uncover possible repair costs that you’ll be responsible for once you own the home.

A real estate sales transaction can be tricky business. Read more, do your homework, and arm yourself with knowledge to ensure your best chances of success.