Have you been browsing homes online, dreaming about the day when you can finally have a place you can call your own? But the thing is, you think you're not quite ready to buy anytime soon, especially if you haven’t saved up as much money for a down payment as you’d like.
Even if you're still a few years away from buying a home, there’s a key step you can take that can be incredibly valuable: talking to a mortgage lender. Here are three great reasons you should be having a conversation with a lender even before you begin the house-hunting process.
While you can do your research about various types of home loans online, talking to a mortgage professional is still the best way to widen your knowledge. Even if you're still months or years away from buying a home, a lender can help you understand the complicated jargon surrounding mortgages. They can also help you start thinking about which type of loan is best for your situation. A lender can also educate you on the different home buyer grants and programs you may be eligible for, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
When applying for a mortgage, lenders may look at your credit report, credit score, income statements, and other documents that are relevant to your financial situation. If your financial picture is less than perfect, meeting with a lender can get you a headstart so you can make the necessary improvements. You may need months or years to repair your credit, pay your debts, or save up for a down payment, so the earlier you start, the better. Improving your credit score can help you lock in a lower interest rate and qualify for loan programs.
Moreover, remember that aside from a down payment, there are several upfront costs you'll need to prepare for when you’re buying a home. Working with a lender can give you a clearer idea of what else you’ll need to budget for and how much they’ll cost, including lender fees, title and insurance, appraisal fees, and other closing costs.
There's nothing worse than finding the perfect property, only to find out that it’s outside your price range. So don’t wait until the last minute to talk to a lender to know what you may or may not qualify for. A lender can help you understand exactly how much you can afford, based on current interest rates, your down payment, and other factors. This way, you can avoid wasting time, energy, and money looking at homes that aren’t within your financial reach. This little pre-work can go a long way to help you be aware of your purchasing power and the competition within the local real estate market.