tl;dr: Talk to a mortgage broker before moving ahead in your real estate search.
Many times, home buyers get emotionally caught up at looking at homes on the market and fixate on homes outside their budget. Despite the fun of looking at and goofing on homes on HAR.com, the proper place to start a home search is with a mortgage broker.
That’s right – not with looking at homes and not with a real estate agent like me. If you work with a mortgage broker first, you can determine the amount of home you can buy.
A seasoned mortgage professional will:
1. Provide your credit score that will be used by lenders; this is your chance to improve any deficiencies to become a better borrower in the eyes of the banks.
2. Give you a limit on how much a lender is willing to provide.
3. Help you understand down payments and how that will affect your monthly costs.
4. Once you have an idea for a home, the broker can give you an estimate of all closing costs and monthly bills, including insurance, taxes, and mortgage payment.
It’s fun to look at homes, to dream, to think about home ownership. But from a practical point of view, starting with the mortgage broker is a sound tactic. Have a plan going in and stick with it. The right real estate agent will help you devise a plan and execute it.