The old saying of a picture is worth a thousand words may hold true in some circumstances, but when it comes to shopping for a house that’s certainly not the case. Even though I haven’t been pre-approved for a mortgage amount yet my Realtor sent me a list of homes that fell in the price range we think I’ll qualify for. Since I’m anxious and excited I pored over the list and went out to visit a few that caught my eye. It was an enlightening experience.
All of the houses were in Bethlehem, but their character couldn’t be more different. One seemed a little too close to the neighbor for my taste and it was located on a corner that was busier than I expected. Another was a short-sale which looked promising in the photos and was at a great price but when I arrived I saw why it hadn’t sold in almost a year. It looked like it was going to fall over. I looked in a neighborhood that I’d been considering but after I got there I saw that all of the houses were very tiny and packed in. Of the dozen or so houses I looked at only one called out to me as one I’d potentially want to buy. It turns out that it’s just two doors down from a good friend of mine.
I emailed my Realtor to let her know that this was a house that I want to look at once I get my mortgage stuff figured out and she got back to me with some additional information about that property. A timely response like that wasn’t necessarily unexpected, but it was definitely a welcome surprise. I told her that I still didn’t have my pre-approval done and that I needed to shop around for a lender.
I was then told something that she’d told me before, but it hadn’t really sunk in. She told me to get a pre-approval from one of the lenders I think I want to go with and to shop around for a mortgage later. The pre-approval letter isn’t binding and it’s not an actual mortgage application, so when the time comes to put in an offer, that’s when I’ll need to know who I want to get my loan from. This will speed things up considerably for me, which is a good thing, since I’m very eager to refine my search criteria and take a closer look at houses.
I looked around at a few lenders and most of them mention pre-qualifications on their website, but not pre-approvals. I know that the two are not the same thing, and that a pre-approval is a stronger document, but it stinks not seeing pre-approval info on most websites because I was really hoping to gather the necessary documentation today so I can have it all ready to go meet with a mortgage representative and potentially even apply tomorrow. If nothing else I can always apply Tuesday.