We have all heard this before, but in real estate the market can move quickly and timing is everything. Many times that perfect home may also be someone else's dream property- so being ready and having everything in order positions you to make an offer immediately.
Getting pre-approved is a big step and it requires some legwork, but it's almost essential to have that done ahead of time. When your lender runs your pre-approval, have them run scenarios at different price points so you understand what your payments will be and how that will impact your monthly budget. Lastly, like Realtors, not all lenders are created equal, so make sure to build your team and go with someone that is professional, responsive, has a good track record, and good rates. Also, if you are pre-approved, make sure to keep your lender in the loop about any pay changes, employment changes, debts, etc. so that you know how it affects your budget.
And then go find your perfect property!