Wait! Before you start surfing websites for home listings, picking out new furniture or anything else in the home-buying process, connect with a mortgage specialist. This is the very first step in the process of buying a home, and here’s why:
- Being pre-qualified for a home loan tells homebuyers right away how much they can spend on a house. Once that’s done, you can zoom in on the homes in your price range and find potential properties much faster in a competitive home-buying market.
- It also makes you more appealing to sellers – they love bidders who have been pre-approved. In a housing market where homes sell fast, and where homes receive multiple bids, the bidders who are pre-approved move to the front of the line.
- It saves time. Being pre-approved is a great motivator – knowing they’re approved inspires homebuyers to get out there and start the search. Once you find your dream home, you can begin the closing process right away.
“Buying a home can be a stressful decision, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Kelley Harwood, Vice President of the Consumer Lending Group at First National Bank. “By getting pre-qualified early in the home-buying process, you will be more prepared and ready to make an informed decision by avoiding delays and stress in the loan process later.”
Finding the right mortgage professional for you
You don’t need to spend hours searching for the perfect match, but taking a little time to meet and have a brief discussion with a potential home lender is ideal. This person is going to be in your corner when it comes to finding the best rate for you, finding a loan that’s right for your budget, etc. You need to be comfortable with them.
When you choose a bank that has a great reputation as a home lender, you’ll be in good hands with anyone on their staff, but it’s nice to find a mortgage professional that you personally connect with. It makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
Take note on first impressions, says Zillow.com . “Are they prompt to respond to your initial contact? Are they friendly and courteous? Do they honor their quote that you saw online? Are they willing to explain things to you or educate you about different choices? Do they proactively discuss the timeline of the loan (estimated closing date, when to lock the rate)? Do they discuss when/how rates will change?”
These are all important questions to ask. Comparing loan estimates from different lenders is also a smart move. As is finding a mortgage professional who is experienced in the type of loan you will get, whether that is a conventional loan, FHA loan, VA loan, etc.
How long has your potential lender been with his or her current company? Will you be working with that person throughout the loan process? The point is: Keep asking questions.
A good loan officer will get you to the closing table in a timely manner,” says mortgageloan.com. “They will communicate with you throughout the process. They will make sure your rate lock is protected or extended if need be. A good loan officer will usually be working for a good lender. Their livelihood depends on the lender they work for being proficient and competitive. If you find a good loan officer you most likely will also be finding a lender that has competitive mortgage rates and closing cost.” 
Find someone you trust
Ask a friend whose opinion your value about their home buying experience:
- Did the lender explain – in easily understood language – what loans were available to you, and which was the best one for you?
- Did they tell you about all the fees up front? Any surprise fees added later?
- Was the lender responsive to your questions before, during and after your initial meeting?
Credit.com  says there are several questions you should ask your mortgage lender, too, including:
- What are your loan programs? Do you offer FHA loans, for example?
- Can I see a Good Faith Estimate (an approximation of payments due upon closing) right away?
- Could you estimate closing costs for my loan?
- Can you estimate and explain your fees?
- How and when will you earn your income from this loan?
- Are you certain you can get this done in time for closing?
“Whether it’s finding someone a competitive rate, explaining the advantage of points and how they work, or clarifying any fees that might be included – up front – we work with homebuyers every step of the way,” says First National Bank’s Harwood.
“You’ll find answers to every question and find confidence during every step of the process.”
Got questions? Stop by your local First National Bank branch today and visit with a mortgage loan expert (They love explaining home loans. Seriously, it’s their thing.)
 “How to Choose a Mortgage Lender” – https://www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/how-to-choose-a-mortgage-lender/
 “Finding a Good Mortgage Loan Officer” – https://www.mortgageloan.com/finding-good-mortgage-loan-officer-9847
 “How to Find and Choose a Mortgage Lender” – https://www.credit.com/loans/mortgage-questions/how-to-find-and-choose-mortgage-lender-broker/