To paraphrase Jay Z, the residential real estate scripture reads: money, cash, homes. Cash may be king, but the next best thing is to get prequalified with a local lender. Not the big national bank that holds your checking account. You need a lender with boots on the ground, one with a smaller pool of appraisers who can get your paperwork done quickly, know the local market, and understand the unique value of an Uptown townhome or an Oak Cliff bungalow. Then, respect the game, y’all. If there are other interested buyers, don’t play coy. Figure out what the home is worth to you (and what the lost opportunity may cost you) and make a fair offer. And don’t count out the personal touch. Write that corny letter about how spectacular the kitchen is and how you can’t wait to cook in it for your adorable children. Because, believe it or not, flattery can get you to closing.