Kathy Henne: Keep the cart behind the horse!

It’s probably no surprise that nearly all buyers require financing for their home purchase. The real challenge is not so much in getting the loan as it is in finding the loan that’s right for you.

The time to start your loan search is before you begin looking at homes. After you’ve reviewed your loan options, you’ll have a better idea of just how much home you can afford.

Starting early gives you an edge when you offer to purchase a property, because purchase contracts will specify what type of loan you are pre-approved for – usually conventional, FHA, or VA. Having your pre-approval from a great local lender in place before you start your home search will give you the confidence to make your offer when you find the right home. You’ll already know what your monthly payment will be and if you’ll need help from the sellers for your closing costs and the amount needed.

You’ll also have an advantage with the sellers, because an offer to purchase from a pre-approved buyer is more attractive to sellers who won’t have to worry about whether you’ll qualify for financing. It demonstrates to both you and the sellers that you have the financial strength to complete the purchase on schedule.

Most real estate agents have experience and relationships with local lenders, and can suggest local lenders who offer a variety of loans with competitive terms and quality service. Your mortgage is as individual as you are, so take the time early on to match a loan to your particular needs.