Pre-Qualification usually means that the mortgage professional has come up with a maximum value you could qualify for with the information you have told them.
Pre-Approval means that they have actually looked at your situation and all of your documentation to make sure you can back up what you said and then compare it to underwriting guidelines either through an automated underwriting system or in comparison to written underwriting guidelines.
Pre-Approvals are the way to go!
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Yes, you should find a Realtor that you can trust.
The agent you choose will assist you in finding a home that will suit your needs and your budget.
Of course, my advice is to shop below the amount you are quailfied for. In doing this you will have a safety net for any other expenses you might have later.
After all you will want to have the funds for decorating your home, etc.
Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you.
Cullman Real Estate
What Dave said is exactly right..... Find a REALTOR that you trust, above all! Your REALTOR is the glue that holds the entire transaction together. They are the ones who should advise you of all of your options and choices at every turn of the transaction. Your REALTOR is essentially your representative to the other professionals in the transaction. Although you have already chosen a lender and you will hire your own home inspector, your REALTOR is still the one that should be looking out for your best interest, even with them and their responsibilities in the transaction.
Honestly, all REALTORS have access to the same information for your market and all of the same properties that are on the market. What differentiates one agent from the next is their integrity and their attention to your transaction.
Good Luck....and Happy Home Buying!!
Also reference my blog post on Homebuying: Understanding the Mortgage Loan Pre-Approval Process below
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