What is your first step to buying a home? It is not recommended you just start looking at homes for sale until you know what you can afford, and certainly do not make an offer on a home without being preapproved for a loan. Experian.com says, “Prequalified is when you [the consumer] agree to provide your credit information to a lender in order to shop for credit offers – such as a credit card or loan. Preapproved is when a lender independently determines that you meet their requirements for credit and sends you an offer.”
» You can check your own credit score free online.
Scores range from 300 (no, you are not buying a home with that score) to 850 (stellar credit). When you check your credit report, look for any errors, question them and dispute them. Your credit score is a huge factor in determining if you qualify for a loan and what interest rate you will be charged. Your lender can coach you on how to increase your credit score.
» Determine what you can afford.
There are free mortgage calculators online you can use to see how $200,000 at today’s interest rate, amortized over 30 years, translates to a monthly payment. Play around until you figure out what kind of house you can buy and the monthly payment you can afford. Don’t forget to add in taxes and insurance to the monthly payment. Your lender will be happy to give you a more accurate estimation based on your financial situation.
» Lenders are such an important part of the home-buying equation.
They can coach you as you prepare to buy a home. They can explain all the different mortgage types and determine which one is best for you. they can make sure you understand the deposit, down payment and closing costs.
Sounds great, but which lender? Ask a Realtor for recommendations. Ask your friends and family for a lender they recommend. Check with your own bank or credit union. Your lender and your Realtor will be working as a team on your behalf, so again, ask your Realtor for recommendations.