It is essential that you have a pre-approval before you begin shopping for and/or writing offers to purchase real estate. You definitely want to know exactly how much you can (and can not) afford before you go looking around.
The best and most experienced agents should have a list of mortgage lenders to whom they can refer 1st time homebuyers, and I'd suggest starting by contacting an experienced real estate agent.
And in my 10 years plus experience, buyers will often find the best mortgage deals for themselves by using a mortgage broker or a mortgage banker/broker rather than just going to a regular commercial bank.
I'd strongly suggest contacting either Dan Larkin with Perl Mortgage or Sam Sharp with Guaranteed Rate if you need to talk through your mortgage scenario and figure out the best loan for yourself. If you need contact information for either, then please feel free to contact me directly and I can forward it to you.
Broker Associate, Keller Williams Realty Chicago Consulting Group
716 E. 47th St. Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 770-5947 (cell) (312) 577-0985 (fax)