OK, so you have decided that you want to start shopping for your dream house. The first thing you want to do is find a reputable real estate agent with an in-depth knowledge of the area and real estate market. That way, you can more easily find a home that is well-suited to you – in terms of placement, type and cost, etc.
The next thing you want to do – before you get serious about shopping around and making any offers – is to decide on your lender. You want to do this at the beginning stages because your lender can pre-approve you for the amount that you can borrow. This will give you a better idea of what you can reasonably afford; AND your offer/s will be taken more seriously if the seller knows that you will be able to get a mortgage for the amount in question.
Mortgage lenders come in many forms. There are retail banks that do their own underwriting so they can sometimes offer lower fees and less stringent requirements. There are credit unions. Credit unions are not-for-profit and customer owned so they typically offer more personal service and lower fees, but they might be less convenient because they tend to have fewer and less accessible locations. Mortgage banks are online lenders that can be competitive, but typically offer less hand holding. A mortgage broker is a liaison between home buyers and mortgage lenders to help find the best terms. They are convenient, but charge a fee for their services.
Do your homework when you are searching for a lender. If you are comfortable with your bank or credit union, see what their rates and terms are. If they happen to be the best deal, that option could be ideal. Also ask advice. A good realtor should be able to give you some cost-effective, reliable mortgage lender options.