If right now you are thinking about whether you would like a home in the style of French Provincial or Greek Revival, there is a good chance you are not just looking for the average home—you are in the market for some luxury real estate. And this is a whole different animal. If this is your first time on the merry-go-round, here are just a few tips to guide you in the process of finding that fancy home of which you have always dreamed.

Find a Qualified Agent

Finding a qualified agent is important no matter what type of home you are buying, but it is particularly important for the luxury real estate market. First off, many of these properties are not listed through the typical channels due to privacy concerns.  So, any pre-searching you may do on your own will likely only turn up a partial listing of what is available. A good agent will have the inside information about houses that have not even officially gone on the market yet.  Whether you are looking for high-end real estate in Detroit, Dallas or Los Angeles, an agent in this arena relies heavily on personal connections.

Experienced agents will also be able to better provide guidance on the value of the property, as the standard practice of comparing the home to similar ones that have sold recently in the area, is not usually an option due to the vast differences between luxury properties.  Experienced agents are skilled at comparing the incomparable.

Don’t Discount Properties Based on Initial Photos

While you think that large, beautiful homes would photograph quite well, often that isn’t the case. The front elevation photos may not be presenting the house as it truly is, and you really have to see it in person to appreciate it. Hop on Google Earth to get a better idea of what the house looks like and the surrounding property.

Issues of Financing

While you may think that most luxury home buyers plunk down a big wad of cash, only about 30 percent go this route, with the rest securing a mortgage. If you plan on getting a loan, it is best to start this process as soon as possible because it can take up to 60 days to get approval—there is a lot more documentation and information involved when buying high-end real estate compared to the lower price ranges.  And other issues may prolong the process, such as requiring multiple appraisals.  Luxury sellers in particular, have little interest in talking with potential buyers who have not yet lined up their financing.

Financing will not totally take you out of the running compared to a cash buyer, and it does help to have a down payment that is at least 30 percent of the purchase price to strengthen your position. With financing secured and a hefty down payment, you are on pretty much the same footing as the cash buyer who is probably offering less.

Make Sure You Get All the Necessary Inspections and Don’t Rush Things

Luxury homes are chock full of amenities and design details that you just don’t find in ‘regular’ houses,  like central vacuuming systems, ponds, fountains, spas, heated flooring and sophisticated surveillance systems to name a few–and it is important you do a thorough inspection to ensure everything is on the up and up. Don’t make any assumptions, and don’t rush the process. You will likely require several different kinds of specialized home inspectors to ensure these unique elements are properly evaluated.