You know what kind of mortgage rates to expect, what kind of mortgage you want, and you have all of your documents together. So how do you actually get the mortgage?
Shop around for a lender
It's always a good idea to talk to a few different lenders about getting your mortgage. Sure, it might be easier to go directly to the institution where you already bank, but shopping around will give you some negotiating power and help ensure you get the lowest mortgage rate possible. Be sure you took some time to look at average rates for your area, checked your credit report, and eliminated as much debt as possible before you finally choose a lender.
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Getting preapproved is proof to any potential sellers that you are able to get a mortgage to buy their home. It's not quite a mortgage, but it tells them that a lender has looked at your credit score and other financials and is promising to lend you a certain amount of money at a certain interest rate. Remember, you may be preapproved for more than you want to spend, and that's ok. Just stick to your budget and only buy as much house as you can afford.
Don't make any financial changes
When you're waiting to get approved for your mortgage, it's extremely important you don't make any major changes to your finances. That means no new credit cards, no car loans, no changing jobs. If any of that happens, your mortgage lender will need to start the process over and you'll have to wait even longer to get into your new home.
Be prepared for closing costs
Once you find a home and are ready to sign the mortgage papers, you can expect additional fees that are wrapped up into the closing costs. Those fees cover things like a home inspection, an appraisal, and a title search. These are necessary because your lender needs to match the exact details of the home you want to buy to the amount of money you're borrowing. For example, if the home is selling for $200,000 and the appraisal says the home is only worth $150,000, your lender is only going to want to lend you up to $150,000.