Let’s face it, it isn’t all that common that people can pay cash for a house. This means they must get a loan, and that requires several factors. Most people will jump into house hunting without knowing what to do or what to expect. Let me start from the beginning with a couple definitions…
THE WHAT A lot of people get mixed up on whether they are pre-qualified for a loan or pre-approved, and maybe some people didn’t even know there was a difference. Pre-qualification is the initial step you may take when first contacting a lender. They will ask you questions and you will respond with your answers, simple. This can even be done over the phone. The lender’s response is what you will likely qualify for if you were to fully apply for a loan. Pre-approval on the other hand is more in-depth digging. In this process, the lender will require proof of what you have said by asking for several different documents. Once the lender has everything he/she needs, then they will be able to fully approve you for your loan.
THE HOW Ready to figure out what type of loan you qualify for? Let me take it back a step and let you know that the first step in the Home Buying Process is to find a REALTOR® to work in your best interests (if you’d like my Home Buying Process document, let me know-I am happy to share resources). Once you’ve found yourself a real estate agent you’re comfortable with, ask them about lenders and for recommendations. Usually agents will have several in their wheelhouse and can steer you in the right direction. You’ll want to contact not one or two, but at least three different lenders to see who can get you the best loan terms-not every company/bank is the same. You also want to find someone who you know will communicate well with you. You pick your lender and then the process begins! The lender and your real estate agent should guide you along the way.
THE WHEN Before you begin looking for a home, you’ll want to speak with lenders and find one who best suits you-as I stated above. The key word in the previous sentence was “before“. You do not want to jump into your home search without knowing what you qualify for. You can assume you will be at a certain price range and be looking at things way over your real capability. Once you move down to homes more in your price range, you may never be satisfied with what you see because you now have unrealistic expectations. Another reason you should go to a lender before looking for homes, is so you are ready to jump on a house whenever you need to. Usually people like to see a letter of pre-qualification or approval submitted with an offer (and sometimes they require it). This shows the seller you are ready and have taken the necessary steps to go through with the transaction. If you see a home you love and you don’t have a letter when some other buyer does…you may lose the house.