When you're buying a home, get pre-qualified for your mortgage BEFORE you start looking and BEFORE you make an offer.
As a buyer, you know this to be true but do you know why? Here are a few benefits to knowing for certain that you have been approved to purchase a home:
1) You don't fall in love with a home that is more than what you can afford to buy.
Homes that sell for less are either older, have smaller yards, fewer rooms, no garage, or are in noisier locations. They are still fine homes but by comparison may feel inferior. Begin by looking in your price range and you will compare these homes to each other not to homes in a higher price range.
2) You can eliminate a stressor that just doesn't need to be there.
There is more to buying a home than planning a fun day of showings. You shouldn't have to worry about whether or not you'll be able to afford the mortgage payments.
3) You will feel confident negotiating.
By knowing you are within your means, you will make an offer and engage in the negotiating with confidence.
4) You won't have any surprises during the subject removal period.
Your lender will need a copy of the accepted offer so they know what house you are buying and for how much. They will likely order an appraisal and give you the final approval on the home. You don't want to find out at this time that they now need your tax returns and that the new vehicle you bought means you don't qualify for as much as you initially did!
5) You will know how much money you need in total.
Aside from the down payment, there is the house inspection, appraisal, title insurance, a portion of the year's property taxes, legal fees and the Property Transfer Tax.
Start with a professional real estate agent who can get you going with the fun part - receiving a list of homes by email and then let them introduce you to a professional lender who can walk you through the mortgage approval process!