French scientist Louis Pasteur famously said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind” — meaning that true advances come from being knowledgeable at the beginning of an endeavor. Today’s buyers are taking this advice to heart by using online tools and handling more home buying tasks themselves.

1. Finding a home

The Consumer Real Estate Index’s recent study of 1,000 potential buyers revealed how consumer behavior is changing. It found that 73% of buyers would use websites to property hunt and 53% would book home tours online.

It’s easier than ever for buyers and sellers to be independent throughout the entire process — from finding homes to completing the purchase or sale. Buyers can conduct research on pricing dynamics and future value projections in the neighborhood and schedule house tours.

A real estate professional can help with technical aspects of the process, but buyers should evaluate what they can handle on their own and take advantage of commission-saving limited service models if possible.

2. Financing a home

Smart buyers should conduct due diligence to determine their budget and evaluate the best options for financing. Consider these key points:

Don’t overlook renovation mortgages. FHA’s 203(k) program and Fannie’s HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage enable buyers to leverage part of their home loan to fund renovation costs. As home prices rise, more people may turn to fixer-uppers or bank-owned homes and could benefit from this type of financing.

Take advantage of low-interest rates to minimize your down payment. It’s likely that inflation will exceed the current interest rate, so locking in today could prove to be very profitable. This enables you to put more of your savings in investments that appreciate such as a diversified portfolio of stocks.

It’s important for buyers to recognize that a home’s value is closely tied to local economic trends. Consider the long-term potential of your local economy to ensure the home’s value will be stable or increase over time. Buying a home in a declining regional economy is rarely a decision that will pay off because that property’s value is also likely to decrease. If you are unsure of market stability, consider rent-to-own lease options.

Anticipate added “fee” such as real estate agent buyer/seller fees, lawyer fees, inspection fees, appraisal fees, conveyance fees, and mansion taxes of 1% in certain states. Buy a house under your budget to ensure your new home doesn’t make you “house poor.”

3. Making the offer

The Consumer Real Estate Index survey found that 27% of home buyers would make a purchase offer online, and this figure will grow as more consumers get comfortable performing real estate transactions online.

The mortgage disclosure rules “TRID/RESPA,” add transparency to the process and was created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2015. The rule is designed to help consumers understand their loan terms so there are no surprises throughout the closing process.

The bottom line is that it pays to get more informed about the home buying process from the start.