I cannot tell you how many clients & friends I have come across that ask "Why do I need to talk to a lender or my bank? I'm just getting started!" It's completely understandable to not want to talk to someone until you see what's actually out there on the market, and learn more about what you're getting yourself into!
But here's the kicker, what if you found the most perfect home (or investment) that day when you were out "just looking"? Unless you're paying all cash, you're going to need a pre-approval letter from a bank or private lender to submit with your offer. In this market, we are so low on inventory that you're going to see multiple offers on well priced properties and a lot of agents actually won't even look at your offer if there is not a pre-approval attached to it.
Now what is a pre-approval you ask? In short, a pre-approval is documentation provided by a loan officer of exactly how much mortgage you are approved to borrow. The first step is to be pre-qualified, you will fill out a loan application and your loan officer, based on the numbers you provided for income, debt, assets, etc. they can give you a qualification letter. This is not the same as a pre-approval. Taking it to the next step, you will provide documentation to back your numbers, your lender will do an extensive check on your financial background, and asses the future necessity of your job in some cases. Once all the steps provided by your lender have been completed, you are given a Pre-Approval Letter and can officially begin your home search in the price range you are qualified to buy in!
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