Before you begin the home buying process, you need to know what the first step is. Usually, it makes sense to contact a real estate agent or a lender as soon as possible.
Contacting a real estate agent first
One option is to contact a real estate agent as you begin the home buying process. You should carefully consider who you will use as an agent. Make sure you meet and interview several agents in order to find the one that is the best match for you. Remember that you and the agent may work together for several weeks or even a few months in the home buying process. You want to find an agent who not only looks out for your best interests, but also is easy for you to work with.
Your agent will help you begin your search for homes. This can be a great way to start. If you have not narrowed down which neighborhoods you are interested in yet, your agent can guide you in this part of the home buying process. However, it helps if you have an idea of how much home you can afford. If you start the home buying process by contacting a lender, you can have a better idea of what that amount will be.
Contacting a lender first
The other option is to begin the home buying process by contacting a lender. This will immediately give you an idea of how much home you can afford. Your lender will prequalify you for a mortgage loan up to a certain amount and provide you with a prequalification letter. Once your lender has verified your financial information as accurate, you are preapproved. Preapproval requires filling out paperwork, but it can give you a leg up when shopping for a home.
Many sellers prefer for you to have a prequalification letter or even be preapproved before they consider any offer you make on their home. If you contact a lender first, you will be ready to make an offer when you find your home.
Whoever you decide to contact first in the home buying process, do both early. Both your lender and your agent are essential to the home buying process, and you should find the right match as early in the process as possible.