Many people start looking for homes without being prepared to buy one. Buyers are prepared when they are ready, willing and able.
The most important step to becoming "able" to buy a home is to get a pre-approval letter from a lender. Not a pre-certification, but a pre-approval. This should be one of the first steps a new buyer takes when making the decision to buy a home.
Starting a property search without knowing how much you can actually afford to spend could end up being a lesson in futility and emotional upheaval.
I have had too many buyers who have been looking at properties and finally find that right one. Now, they agree to get in touch with a lender and, guess what, there is a mark on their credit which does not allow them to get a loan. Had they contacted the lender before they began searching, this minor detail could have already been removed.
In another scenario, I have had buyers thinking they can afford a $250,000 home. Yet, when they go for that pre-approval, they truly only qualify for a $200,000 home. That is a big difference.
Starting with the pre-approval can save the buyer a lot of emotional upheaval in the future.
Further, the market is shifting and homes are selling faster. I have also had buyers who find a house and, by the time they get the pre-approval letter, the house is sold. It could take a while to find another one that you like as much.
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