You begin by reading this four part series and educating yourself on how to shop for a loan. Brian Brady wrote this award winning series and exposed all of the secrets the loan industry does not want you to know. It really should be mandatory reading.
The best deal on a mortgage can be found by interviewing lenders to see who you are the best fit with. Direct lenders often have access to loan programs that are backed at the State and Federal levels so you can take advantage of assistnace programs. It is important to know the differences between pre-approval and pre-qualification. I helped one client save $9,000 on their closing costs just by speaking with the lender. When that occurs, it is usually a good idea to switch lenders!