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Get Preapproved Before Shopping
Get Pre-approved Before Shopping
If you're counting on buying a house within the next year, it's a good idea to get yourself ready as soon as you start considering a move. Most buyers think they can search online until they are ready to start shopping, then visit homes until they find something they like, THEN worry about getting preapproved. If that is your strategy, you set yourself up for disappointment.
The biggest problem I've had with buyers who use this strategy is buyers missing out on properties, before you are able to make an offer on your dream home, a preapproval letter is required to submit an offer, so before a seller will even look at your contract, your preapproval must be ready. If you have to scramble to get a preapproval letter before writing an offer, it gives the seller more time to consider other offers, and other buyers more time to visit the house.
If you have less than perfect credit, a lender is going to need a ton of documents from you that most people don't have just laying around, such as previous years tax returns, and bank statements. Even if you have these items ready, it can take 7-10 days to get yourself approved with a mortgage. That's 7-10 days you don't have time to wait if you've found a house you love and are ready to make an offer.
Another great reason to get preapproved ahead of time is to prevent surprises in your credit report, nowadays it's really easy to have your identity stolen, or even to just overlook inaccurate data in your report, if there's something in your report that can prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage, it's best to know sooner rather than later. You don't want to have to wait 1-3 months to correct misinformation on your report if you've already started shopping. If you find out too late that there's bad info preventing you from qualifying, and you have to wait until next quarter to buy, that could mean buying in a different market environment, missing out on buyer incentives, and rising interested rates. All of these things will cost you money, so its best to be fully prepared before you start your shopping.