By Brooke L. Willmes

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step in deciding to buy a house. Now, where do you begin?  You may be hesitating calling us because you’re not sure if you need an approval to do that. Maybe you don’t know how much you can afford, you’re clueless about if you have enough money saved, you don’t want to waste our time and you might not know if you can afford to buy what and where you want.

Welcome to being a typical home buyer!  No, seriously! All of these concerns are valid and the truth is that you may not have many of those answers until you talk with a lender.  BUT should you do that first?

If you do decide to reach out to a lender first, reach out to us (or if you’re not using us for some odd reason—ok, you’re buying a house on the west coast—then reach out to your agent) for a lender they trust. It just makes things easier during the offer process to work with a lender that we have a great rapport with to get quickly updated figures and change scenarios on the fly. But by all means, you can feel free to get approved before we discuss home buying!

Conversely, don’t feel like you have to be preapproved! We love being able to sit down (or FaceTime) with clients, talk about broad strokes of wants, needs, the process and types of financing available and go over the basics and send you off on the way to a lender so you can feel more confident about what to expect. Then once you’re approved, we can fine tune neighborhoods, budget and set up a search for you based upon intuitive parameters and get you to hit the ground running!

You can expect the process of preapproval to take anywhere from 2-7 days, depending on how complicated your financial situation is and documentation you’re asked to provide. Once you have this approval, we can officially use it to submit an offer so it’s something you absolutely want to have the moment you visit your first home. We can have the lender revise the numbers to suit an offer for a particular house with its specific taxes and the current interest rate when it’s offer time.

Just because you use a particular lender’s preapproval for an offer submission does NOT mean that you need to use them for the loan—you can shop around the moment you’re under contract and it’s the first time you can lock your interest rate so it doesn’t make sense to do when you’re getting your first preapproval!