While you may have been home shopping for a while— either perusing neighborhoods, looking at real estate web sites or perhaps using a real estate app— before you jump fully into the home buying process there are two important things to do before you choose your agent:

First — Speak to a Lender

Even before you choose your real estate agent, you should touch base with a lender and discuss your mortgage options. You want to ensure that your payments are affordable and that you will feel comfortable with the home-buying process.

Additionally, most agents, if not all, want their clients to speak to a lender to verify the price range they can afford. This makes it so agents can focus their time showing their clients homes that actually fit within their price range.

Second: Get Pre-Approved

When you speak to a lender, ask to get pre-approved.  Getting pre-approved is important so you can demonstrate to real estate agents and sellers that you are a credible buyer. It means you are:

  • Credit-worthy
  • Closer to locking a mortgage rate
  • Able to act fast when you find the home you want to buy!

And when you do find a home, you’ll often need a pre-approval letter from your lender to submit with your offer so it’s a good idea to get pre-approved in advance so that you’re prepared with your letter when you decide to submit an offer.

Overall, the more you learn from your lender early on – about what you can afford, and what to expect from mortgage application process, the less anxiety you will feel regarding the overall home-buying process.

Third: Then Choose an Agent

Once you’ve spoken with a lender, learned about your financing options, and have been pre-approved, you’ll be more prepared to shop for homes with you agent.  A real estate agent not only will be able to provide information about a specific home that interests you, but can also arrange home tours as necessary and assist in the final negotiation process.

Doing these three things in order will make the home-buying process easier for you and your agent. Once you have these things checked off, then you can enjoy searching for your dream home.

About the Author

Erin is vice president of mortgages at Zillow. She leads Zillow’s efforts to connect borrowers with lenders, and to empower consumers with the information and tools to make smart decisions about financing homes.

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