The first step in my opinion would be to get a loan approval for the amount of house you can qualify for, don't worry you don't have to lock rates just because you apply! Then hire me to work for you! While working with me, I will ask you questions to find what it is that you are looking for in an agent, in a buyer's experience and make sure I can make that work for you! I'd rather not go to work for you now than to disappoint you in the future. Once working together, I would love to hear all about the home you want, the area, features, size, price, schools businesses, worship places, and all that are important to you in making a decision! I represented builders in the area to list their homes for sale, and would be happy to help you!
A realtor can put you in touch with a lender, but the realtor's primary responsibility is to help you determine what type of home you are looking for and to show you homes that meet your needs within your budget. When you find a home you'd like to buy, the realtor will prepare the offer for you and negotiate on your behalf. Since you are a first time buyer, it's probably important to you to have someone who will help explain the process to you.
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Contact a local real estate professional. They can help you contact a mortgage lender. Being approved vs. prequalified helps your negotiating power when you locate the home you would like to make an offer on. There are several professionals in your area.
Find a good mortgage broker and get pre approved not pre qualified. It is a simple process and should not cost you anything. Ask friends and family if they have any recomendations. A good Broker should explainthe different types of loans available and how much you will be able to qualify for, what the payments are going to be and how much cash you will need to close. If you don't feel comfortable with your first choice find another one. Remember they work for you and they should treat you with the respect you deserve.