Real estate professionals get quite a few questions every day regarding the real estate market. One of the most frequent questions I get is "What's the first step in buying a home?"
You might think that finding a home would be that first step in the process but actually, it's getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting a pre-approval letter from a lender is an important first step on your home buying journey.
First, you need to know how much you can borrow. Knowing how much you can afford helps narrows down online home searching for suitable properties in your price range. This reduces time wasted looking at homes outside your price range not to mention, preventing you from falling in love with homes outside of your budget.
Second, the loan estimate from your mortgage lender will show how much money you will need for a down payment and closing costs. A clearer picture of these costs will help you assess whether you need more time to save up money or liquidate assets and prevent any unexpected surprises at closing.
Finally, being pre-approved for a mortgage demonstrates your seriousness as a buyer to both your real estate consultant and the seller of the home. Pre-approval could even give you an advantage in negotiation as someone who has their "financial ducks" in a row is more appealing than a buyer who doesn't.
Some real estate agents will require a pre-approval before showing homes, particularly when it comes to the higher end homes on the market. Sellers of luxury homes want to make sure only serious (verified) buyers are coming to their home and want to keep out the "looky lous" and protect their privacy.