Once you decide to buy a home, the first thing you (understandably) want to do is pop into open houses and fantasize about your new life in your new digs.

It is a crucial part of the process. But jumping straight into the deep end could land you in trouble—both financially and emotionally.

Take it from me: When my husband and I bought our first house, we launched into the search without prepping properly. We fell in love with a two-bedroom bungalow far too quickly (it was one of the first homes we saw), and spent the entire closing process playing catch-up. We rushed to get a loan approved; we scrambled to understand our contingency options; and in the end, the home turned out not to be exactly what we needed.

I’ve made a promise to myself: Next time, I’ll think things through and prevent buyer’s remorse. And I urge you to, too. I talked with real estate pros to find out the things you should do before you ever set foot in a home.

1. Get your credit in order

Good credit is essential when buying a home. A poor credit score can lead to a higher interest rate and, by extension, a higher monthly payment. Dings on your credit—e.g., an old debt that’s been turned over to a collection agency, or a high credit card balance—can even prevent you from buying a home.