When you are starting your search to purchase a home, the FIRST thing you on your list should be- making sure you are qualified to purchase. To get qualified, speak to a lender. You can check with your bank, credit union or ask your Realtor, friends and family for a few referrals.
Your lender will ask for a few items, so get them ready in advance. Collect your gross monthly income and total monthly payments , items like car payments, credit card minimum payments, child support payments, college debt etc. Your lender might have a list.
The lender will compare your debt to income in order to find your “debt-to-income” ratio.
Let the lender run a credit report on you. Ask them how much it will affect your credit score. Let them know when you are considering purchasing and that you are possibly speaking to another lender. The lender should let you know what a low credit score is and a high one. The higher your credit score and other positive factors could get you a better interest rate.
Once you have all of that ready to go, ask your lender to give you a pre-qualification/ pre-approval letter. I generally request that my clients have the pre-approval letter modified for the home they are submitting an offer on.
Every situation is slightly different, so speak to the professionals to find out what methods work in the area you are hoping to buy a home in.
Good luck and Happy House Hunting!