My fiance and I started the home buying process about 5 months ago. Of course we new pretty much nothing and seemed to do everything backwards. We started out looking for homes online and in home magazines. Falling in love with a few and even going to see some. We decided on one we loved and thought you just simply applied for a mortgage and it was yours. How wrong we were! Needless to say we did not get that house.
First and foremost, I strongly suggest you check your own credit report! Look for any inaccurate information. Including accounts you have, the names they have you listed as, your spouses name and you current and previous addresses. You have the ease of disputing any inaccuracies online right away. If your score is low, wait on the mortgage process and work on getting that score up as much as you can! This will definitely help how high or low your mortgage rate will be. Pay down some credit cards and make sure all your accounts are in good standing. These are the things we did and got my fiance’s score up by 50 points.
The second thing I suggest is to do your own research on mortgages and mortgage companies. Unfortunately they aren’t always going to tell you what’s best for. Remember they are trying to make a buck too. It’s time consuming but so worth it. Get a book, read some articles and ask your relatives and friends. Do some checks on the Better Business Bureau website. Don’t just go with the first mortgage company you contact. Shop around. Get a few pre-qualification quotes so you can see what your options are and what types of rates you are being offered. Do not be afraid to ask questions! It’s all free. If you can, save up some money to put down on the home. That’ll also lower monthly payments. But remember closing costs are not cheap.
The third thing that I can recommend is to find a realtor you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to use the agent selling the home. You can use whatever realtor you want. Again, be cautious. Not all realtors are looking out for you. They want to make a sale! Be sure they have a lot of experience. This will lesson the time this whole process takes. Let them do the work for you but insist that they keep you posted!
Just a note, always get a home inspection. Not everything is visible and no one wants to buy a money pit!