Before you find a home you love

With an endless number of websites to search for homes these days (including this one), it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities and neglect one of the most important steps. You’ve got to talk to a lender about your options for financing.

A lender will ask you questions about your income, work history, debts, credit score and more. They’ll then use this information to determine how much money you could afford to borrow and the type of loans you might be eligible to receive (conventional, FHA, VA, etc).

Being armed with this information from the beginning helps streamline your search. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a home that’s out of your reach. On the other hand, you could be pleasantly surprised that you might be in better standing than you thought and might be able to afford to go to the next price bracket. Also, if you’re wanting to do a VA loan, the home you’re hoping to buy will also have to meet certain criteria (for example, no chipping paint).

Getting the financial piece out of the way in the beginning is also useful because when you do find the home you love and you want to make an offer, you won’t have to scramble to find the right lender to give you a preapproval letter to accompany your offer. A lender can also help give you a good estimate (it’s called a Good Faith Estimate, to be exact) of what your closing costs might be on different homes so you know how much cash you’ll have to have to close on your new home.

The best part of talking to a lender to figure out your options: it’s free! Now you’ve run out of excuses.