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The very first step in buying a home is to figure out how much YOU can afford. Don't just take the lender's calculation of what you might be approved to buy. It is more important to know what monthly payment will allow you the peace of mind and freedom to be able to easily enjoy that new home!
Being prepared with the right documents for your lender will greatly improve the process of getting a fast pre-approval for your home loan. It can avoid unnecessary delays and greatly help your loan officer to determine your qualification.
An up front home inspection does more than make you aware of any physical and mechanical problems with the home. The inspection report will help you in negotiations with the seller. Ultimately the report could also help you avoid buying a problem property.
A loan officer can make or break your deal. It is the expertise, knowledge and experience of the loan officer that will not just get you an approval, but also find the best loan program and interest rates. You will get "up close & personal" with this person. Even if they are referred to you; make sure you like and trust them.
Choose a minimum of three lenders and ask each of them the exact same questions. This is a preliminary shopping expedition and you will get a good feel for what lender you may (or may not!) wish to bring your business.