HOME BUYER TIP: Get Pre-Approved First
You may not want to go to the trouble of applying for a home loan until you've found the home you want to buy, but that's taking the wrong approach. You should obtain a pre-approval letter from a bank as the starting point of your home buying process. In today's market, home sellers expect to see a pre-approval letter with any offers they receive that include buyer financing and they aren't going to accept an offer when they don't have any assurance the buyer can even afford their home. If you're not prepared ahead of time, the home of your dreams could slip away because you'll be waiting on a pre-approval letter while a more prepared buyer swoops in and makes a strong offer. Another important reason to get pre-approved with a bank up front is so you'll know your buying power; without getting pre-approved you'll have no idea if you can even afford the homes you're looking at. Conversely, you may be able to afford more home than you think you can, but you won't know either way until you get pre-approved.