You’ve been thinking about buying a home – maybe it’s your first, or maybe you’re ready to trade up from your current space. You’ve saved a down payment, browsed online listings and are ready to contact a real estate agent so you can start looking at houses.
Wait! There’s one more thing you need to do before you go any further: Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Even if you’ve bought a home before or think you have a good idea of what you can afford, mortgage pre-approval is an essential first step for several reasons. First, it makes you aware of any problems with your credit so you can get them straightened out. The better your credit score, the lower your interest rate. Next, it gives you the precise amount you can afford to borrow. Whereas a pre-qualifying letter or online calculator gives you an estimate, pre-approval provides the actual amount a bank is willing to lend you. And finally, by giving sellers proof that you’re able to obtain financing, pre-approval puts you in a stronger position for home-buying negotiations.
So before you head out the door to start looking at properties, call a mortgage lender. Knowing exactly how much house you can afford will give you confidence in your home search and save you from frustration down the road.