Much has been written about little tricks that help sell a house - like a fresh coat of paint here and there and baking bread in the oven - but less attention has been paid to preparing buyers to buy.

At first look, you might think there isn't much a buyer can do.The seller, after all, brings the house to the deal.

The real estate agents bring their services. The lawyers their expertise.

All the buyer has to bring is his checkbook.

And while agents will tell you that indeed, your checkbook is an important part of the deal, they will also tell you that it's just the last part.

In fact, there is a "knowmanship" to buying a house. Some of it is attitude, some is common sense. Part of it is etiquette and part is just mechanics, notes a story by United Press International.

All of it, however, can ease the process. Disregarding it can make the challenging task of finding a house a difficult chore.

A short list of things to prepare yourself to buy would include:

- Decide in advance what things you "need" in a house, and what additional things you "want." Write them down and give a copy to your real estate agent at least a few days in advance of your first house hunting trip.

- Send a picture of your current house to your agent.

- Bring personal financial information with you to your first meeting with the agent, and don't be shy about divulging the bad as well as the good.

- Don't be offended if the agent asks to see some identification.

- When you are going through a house, don't engage the seller in conversation.

- When you are done going through, don't stand aside and whisper to your spouse about what you liked and didn't like.

- Don't smoke in the agent's car. His car is his office.

- Tell the agent upfront who has to see the house before you can commit to buy.

- Let your agent be in charge of the search.

- Don't bring young children on the initial search. They divide your attention.

- If you are going to look, be prepared to buy. Bring your checkbook.

"I'd like buyers to have some kind of knowledge about the various parts of town, too," said Richard Rector, president of Realty Executives in Phoenix, Ariz., one of the 10 largest independent real estate companies in the nation.

"For instance, Phoenix is a big spread out town, and each part has a different personality. It helps the agent to know that you like this lifestyle or that. Or what kind of commute."

Arthur Heiam, a top agent for the fourth largest independent agency in the country, Minnesota-based Edina Realty, said one of the most important things buyers can do is commit time to the process.

"Don't expect to just get in the car first thing and go looking at houses," Heiam said. "Expect to spend up to an hour in a qualifying interview with the agent. Before we begin we need to qualify what their needs are and what their abilities are. We just can't open the MLS book and start thumbing through the pictures."

And once the buyer is in the hunting processes, he adds, "Commit the time. Make it the most important thing you're doing that day. Don't go out for an hour and half and then tell your agent you have something else to do."

Heiam said a big help for people relocating to an unfamiliar area is to send the agent a picture of the house you are living in. That gives the agent an idea of the kind of home and neighborhood you like. You can describe all that, of course, but a picture gets the message across quicker.

Rector also suggests that many people arrive at the agent's office unprepared to talk about money. "But you have to be ready to apply for a loan. You should be ready to bare your soul. Have tax returns with you. Be ready to document your income. Buyers get upset because it takes so long to process a loan. They can speed up that process by having all that in order."