1. Get your financing in order well in advance. Then you won’t have to take the first lender who comes along, says Invis mortgage agent Bryan Slaney.
2. Nail down your wish list—and know what you’ll compromise on.
3. If renovations are in the mix, line up your contractor in advance. A contractor’s opinion on a property will give you a clearer view of whether it’s a bargain or a bust.
4. Work with a real estate agent who knows the area, and get in her database so that you get early notice of new properties, says realtor Chris Winney of Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty in Northbrook, Ont.
5. Do your research. Buying a cottage is not the same as buying urban property: Amenities, utilities, and access may all differ from city homes, and you may also be dealing with shoreline, water, and wildlife issues.