The very first step to buying a home is to talk with a lender to see how much home you might be able to afford. Many Realtors will not work with a buyer who isn’t at least trying to get in touch with a lender. Personally, I would hate for a buyer to start looking at homes, only to find out that they have fallen in love with a home that is out of their price range, or we have wasted our time looking at homes that are way under their actual budget and we need to start over.
When you speak with a lender, you need to ask to be Pre-APPROVED. Many people do not know that there is a big difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval, but it is a big difference.
A pre-QUALIFICATION only looks at the most basic financial info, and the bank does not necessarily take the time to verify any of that info. They are simply saying that IF what you are telling them is correct, then you SHOULD be able to afford this mortgage.
A pre-APPROVAL actually requires a mortgage application, a credit check, verification of your financial status. It is way more accurate and shows sellers that you are a serious buyer.