The first step toward home ownership

Posted by on Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 1:55pm.

Whether you’re buying for the first time or the tenth, if you‘ve decided the time is right to become a homeowner, the first step should be to visit a mortgage lender and get pre-approved for your mortgage loan.

Choose a lender you’ve been happy with in the past, choose based on a referral from a friend or family member, or call me. I’ll be happy to give you a list of mortgage loan officers who have done well by my clients.

There is a difference between lenders and loan programs, so it pays to take a little time making your choice.

You want a lender who will:

  • Give you answers in writing about what they can or can’t do for you – including the interest rate they’ll offer you
  • Be responsive – returning your phone calls or emails promptly
  • Doesn’t charge excessive “extra” fees
  • Feels “comfortable” to you.

That last point may seem trivial, but it is important. You and the lender will be working closely together for a while, and you’re going to be revealing your personal information, so make sure you choose someone you feel comfortable with.

To save time, go to your first meeting prepared to discuss your financial situation. Take along your last couple of years’ tax returns, your last 2 or 3 pay stubs, your most recent bank statements, and a list of what you owe and what you own.

Before the lender can give you an actual pre-approval letter, he or she will have to get a copy of your credit report and FICO scores. And that’s OK. Even though you’ve read that every request will lower your scores, multiple requests from mortgage lenders all within a short time-frame will all count as one. The people who compile credit scores know that you’re shopping.

Each lender will have to give you a GFE – a good faith estimate – before you commit to using them. This gives you the opportunity to compare rates and fees between different lenders before making a choice.

If you have questions after reading those GFE reports, do ask the lender to explain them. And, if you still aren’t sure, just give me a call. I’ll be happy to go over them with you.  You can reach me by calling 858-342-9292 or emailing

Becoming pre-approved for a mortgage loan is an important first step in purchasing your first home. Next time I write, I’ll explain why.

P.S. Remember that during the weeks prior to purchasing a new home you should refrain from letting anyone but a mortgage lender check your credit. Don’t give your Social Security number to anyone for any reason.

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