Without question, your first step in the home buying process is to begin getting your financing in order. The fact is that most people who buy homes today do so with a mortgage. This part is often the most challenging, and confusing for new buyers.
It’s an excellent idea to know the shape of your credit, and be aware of where you stand at the outset. If there are errors on your report, old past-due accounts you have forgotten about, or public records (judgments, etc.), now is the time to be aware of them and deal with them.
Some great places to get your hands on FREE credit reports are websites like annualcreditreport.com or sites with apps such as Creditkarma.com Most of those sites will try to sign you up for various premium services, but what you’re interested in at this stage is identifying items needing taken care of to get approved for a mortgage. If there are any past due accounts, bring them current as quickly as possible. Likewise, if there are judgments or collection accounts, try to settle them. In particular, lenders require that any public record items (judgments and liens) be resolved before closing.
It’s not too early in the process to find a loan officer to help you with this part of the process. Even if you’re not ready YET, a good loan officer is usually willing to help you navigate the repair process, and provide guidance. You should specifically look for someone with whom you feel comfortable and confident. It is not worth focusing on the rate someone may offer if they aren’t available to be your trusted adviser. You want someone who responds promptly to emails, phone calls, and texts, and who gives you straightforward answers in plain language.
When you’ve found a loan officer you like, you should begin the preapproval process. You’ll typically provide current pay stubs, W2s, and bank statements.
I hope this is useful. Good luck!