Whether you're looking to buy your first home, or haven't purchased a home in the past several years, you may be surprised to discover that searching your local real estate listings is not the best place to begin. You can certainly get ideas about what you're looking for by browsing through area homes for sale, and there's no reason not to do so. However, once you begin your home search in earnest, you'll want to have one important step completed.
Your first step in the process of buying a home is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This will help you in a number of ways:
You'll have a firm budget to work with
You'll have time to compare and find the type of mortgage that best suits your needs
Sellers will see that you're a serious buyer
A pre-approved loan takes much less time to underwrite than one that hasn't been pre-approved
Each of these benefits work together to help smooth the entire home-buying process.
Know your budget with a pre-approved home loan
If you're like most people, you have a good idea what you can afford to pay each month. Most likely, you also know how much you have available for a down payment. However, the total monthly mortgage payment can vary from one loan to the next. Additionally, even a small change in interest rate can mean a significant increase or decrease in your monthly expense.
By starting your homebuyer's journey with a pre-approved home loan, you'll shop for a new home with a firm budget in mind. You'll have a clear idea what your monthly payment will be, and that can save you from falling behind on payments after the purchase.
Shop for a mortgage before you shop for a home
In addition to traditional mortgage options, there is an array of other types of home financing. Your situation and your needs are unique to you. Shopping for the right mortgage for you can take time. You don't want to feel rushed when making this decision because you've already found the home you want to buy. It's important to have the home loan that best suits your current and future needs.
Beat out competing offers with pre-approved financing
Today's real estate market moves swiftly, and many sellers may receive multiple offers. In most cases, sellers will consider offers accompanied by a letter of pre-approval before those without. Savvy sellers, as well as their agents, know that it takes less time to close a home sale when the buyer's lender has pre-approved the financing.