What to Know about Navigating the Homebuying Process

8/16/2023 12:00:00 PM

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Taking out a mortgage can seem overwhelming, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have bought a home before. But with the right guidance, navigating the process doesn’t have to be stressful.

We’re here to tell you what you need to know when looking for a home loan.

1. What Should I Do First When Buying a Home?

To start the homebuying process, the best place to begin is with a mortgage lender (also known as a mortgage banker or loan officer). A common mistake is finding a lender after you’ve already found your dream home, but many realtors (or real estate agents) won’t even show you a home unless you have a pre-approval letter from a lender. And most listing agents won’t entertain an offer without pre-approval.

When you meet with a mortgage lender, they’ll review your credit, down payment options and loan programs available to you, and help you understand what you can afford. Meeting with a mortgage lender for a free pre-approval before shopping for a home shows real estate agents, builders and sellers that you are a serious buyer.

Having a pre-approval letter in hand also ensures you won’t miss out on being a contender for a home if you happen to see one you love and want to make an offer right away.

Real estate agents, builders, and sellers will respect this.

2. How Do I Choose a Mortgage Lender?

Your home is often the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so when it comes to choosing the person who will help you with that loan, it’s important to pick someone you can trust. It might seem easier – or more convenient – to shop for your mortgage online, but working with a local lender can make a big difference during your homebuying process.

In addition to being easier and more convenient, there are three big advantages to working with a local, reputable lender:

  1. Local lenders know the market. Not only do they regularly work with local title companies and agents, they’ve also likely driven through the neighborhoods, walked the nearby parks and shopped at the local stores.
  2. You can meet with local lenders face to face. A mortgage can be complicated, and it’s easy for misunderstandings to happen via email or phone. But when you can meet with a lender in person, you can clear up a lot of that potential confusion.
  3. Local lenders are available if something goes wrong. If there’s an issue with your appraisal or closing, a local lender who has formed a relationship with you and understands your situation is more likely to be able to help you than a call center that may or may not be open when you need assistance.

There’s something to be said for working with a lender who cares about you – and not just your loan – and who can walk you through the mortgage process, providing unequaled personal service along the way.

Find a Bell loan officer near you.

3. How Do I Get Pre-Approved?

The first step to ultimately getting the keys to your new home is getting pre-approved for your mortgage. At Bell, our lenders will give you step-by-step instructions on how to easily apply online. 

Learn more on how to get pre-approved for your mortgage.

4. How Much Home Can I Afford?

There are many factors that can affect the size of a mortgage payment, from the interest rate to the down payment amount. To figure out how much you can afford to pay, try our online loan payment calculator, but keep in mind that the only way to truly know what you can afford is by working with an experienced lender.

Once you have an idea of what you can afford, make a list of the things that are important to you in a home. Understanding what type of home you’re looking for, what location you’d prefer, and what kind of space you hope to have will help you stay focused when you start your search. Keeping a list of wants vs. needs will also help you narrow down home options in your price range.

5. How Do I Get the Best Mortgage Rate?

With so many things involved with determining a mortgage interest rate, it can sometimes be hard to know whether you’re getting the best possible rate. That's why it's important to work with an experienced, knowledgeable lender who can monitor the rate climate and help you lock in at the best time to get the best possible rate.

Here are 4 things to know about mortgage rates before committing to a mortgage loan. 

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Why work with Bell Bank Mortgage?

Your loan is not just another deal to us. We understand it’s a dream of homeownership that could unlock a future of possibilities. Find a Bell Bank Mortgage lender near you.
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