The first and foremost thing to do is to meet with a lender and make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Sometimes we have things in our credit that we can make fast adjustments to, like paying off a credit card, that can significantly impact our credit score. Taking care of these things ahead of time will position you to get the best mortgage terms possible. Even if you don't want to buy this year it doesn't hurt to speak with someone so you are ready when the time comes.
A good lender will take time to fully understand your goals and find you the best loan for you without over extending you. Just because you qualify for a $500,000 house doesn't mean that it is a smart idea. No one wants to be house poor and have to say no to vacations and nights out because their mortgage is too high. Your lender will be able to help you figure out what monthly payment with mortgage, taxes, insurance and HOA dues will be ideal for you and what price point range we need to be in when we start looking for your new home.
You also will need a pre-approval letter to put an offer in on any place you find on your home search so this is a must before you even get started. In many areas of Chicago right now you have to be ready to put an offer in the day the house goes on the market or you are going to miss out.
Since mortgages are so heavily regulated the qualifications are largely the same. Going with a larger mortgage broker typically opens up more options with not only loan programs but down payment assistance programs as well. Check out my list of favorite lenders here.
DID YOU KNOW?
You only need a credit score of 580 to buy.
You can buy with as little as 1% down.