Step 1: Make a rough estimate of how much home you can afford based on your  income and current debt. 

Lenders and financial experts recommend that your monthly debts should be no more than 36% of your  monthly income. An online mortgage calculator can help you  determine your borrowing power at current mortgage rates based on your income and your current  outstanding debt, and will likely be the best tool for you to make this initial estimate. 


Calculate how much home you can afford with PMI & HOA fees, interest, property taxes, closing costs, and more!

Mortgage Calculator
Mortgage Calculator

Step 2: Take a close look at your credit report. 

Your credit history is one of the principal measures used by a  lender to determine your interest rate. The better your credit, the  better lending terms your bank or lending institution will be able to  offer you. A higher interest rate translates into a higher monthly  mortgage payment, and so your credit score will directly affect how  much money you can borrow and at which homes you should be  looking. 

How Does Your Score Rate?

Below 620620-690690-740740-780Above 780

Step 3: Gather the documents / Take a look at your assets and monthly expenses.

A higher  interest rate translates into a higher monthly mortgage payment, and so your credit score will directly affect  how much money you can borrow and at which homes you should be looking. You should be aware of what information is on your credit report by obtaining and reviewing copies of your  credit report from the three main credit report agencies.

Important Documents To Bring

Credit ReportStudent LoansStocks, Bonds, & investment accounts
Social Security NumberAuto LoansIRA / Retirement plan
W2 Forms from the previous two yearsCredit CardsLife insurance policies
Pay Stubs (most recent months)Child Support PaymentsAutomobiles owned
Employment History SummaryFederal Tax Returns (2 years)Construction loan
Bank Statements ( 3 months)Complete Record of AssetsGift letters

Step 4: Talk to a qualified lender 

A professional advisor will  not only be able to give you information on the best rates and terms available in the current market, but he or  she can also explain to you what options you have given your unique financial situation. When we begin  to look seriously at homes, you'll go back to the lender and shop around for the best loan available.

Know Your Rate - And Your Terms

When you start shopping for a loan, you'll start looking at interest rates. The interest rates, terms, and fees for a  mortgage will be based on your qualifications as a borrower and on the current lending market. Keep in mind  though that finding the right loan is not just about finding the lowest interest rate possible. Mortgage  institutions offer loans of varying terms – typically 30, 20, or 15 years. Shorter term loans can save you  thousands of dollars over the life of your loan if you can afford a higher monthly payment. 

Learn more about mortgage loans
Learn more about mortgage loans

Know Your Fees

Most loans have fees in addition to the total amount you are borrowing to finance your home. You can  sometimes borrow the money needed to cover these fees, but that will obviously increase the overall  amount of debt you undertake. Some fees are paid up front, and others are not due until closing


The lender or broker can charge you points on your mortgage. One point equals 1 percent of the loan  amount. These are simply fees paid to the lender or broker that are often linked to the interest rate, and are  usually paid in cash to the lender or broker at closing. A lender may offer you a lower interest rate, but  charge more points, so it's important to compare offers. 

Loan Origination Fees 

The institution that actually loans you the money will generally charge on origination fee for processing the  loan. They are often expressed as a percentage of the amount of the loan. 

Underwriting Fees 

Certain lenders will charge a fee to investigate your creditworthiness and determine if you are likely to  repay your loan. 

Broker Fees 

Typically paid at closing, a mortgage broker may charge you a fee in addition to the origination fee. If you  are working with a broker, be sure to check with them what their fee is. 

Transaction / Settlement / Closing Costs 

These fees lump together several charges for: application fees, title examination, abstract of title, title  insurance, property survey fees, deed preparing fees, other mortgage fees and settlement documents,  attorney fees, recording fees, notary fees, appraisal fees and credit report fees. The Real Estate Settlement  Procedures Act requires that a lending institution provide a borrower with a good faith estimate of closing  costs at the time of application. This estimate must list each expected cost as a range or as an exact  amount where applicable.

Know Your Down Payment and Private Mortgage Insurance

The largest upfront cost in purchasing a home is the  down payment. Most traditional lenders expect  borrowers to put at least 20% of a loan's total amount  down. Borrowers who are unable to do so are required to  purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

This  insurance protects the lender in case of default by  the borrower. Be sure to get a clear indication of the down payment percentage required by your lender. You will also want to  know what kind of documentation your lender requires to verify that you have funds for the down payment. 

Lender Interview Cheat Sheet
Lender Interview Cheat Sheet

Pre-Approval V.S. Pre-Qualification


Pre­-qualification is only a loan agent's opinion that you'll be able to obtain  financing. No verifications are made, so formal approval is not issued


Pre­-approval means your loan application has been taken through a rigorous  procedure, including a review of your credit report. Pre­approval saves you  the time of looking at houses you can't afford.


We've made a commitment to help you find a home that suits your wants and needs, and so now it's time for you  to articulate exactly what those wants and needs are. By sitting down and considering the kinds of things you're  really looking for, you can save a lot of time and frustration by avoiding houses that aren't for you. Take a few minutes to consider the following features and benefits of the home you're looking for.

Find a list of homes using our Professional Realtor Database

Home Search

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Find a list of homes using our Professional Realtor Database

Home Search

Fill out our a form and we'll do the searching for you

Tell Us Your Requirements


Schedule Showings 

It's time to get out and see some of the houses you've been looking at  in person. We will compile a list of the properties you've found as well as options I've found of similar properties on the local Multiple Listing  Service (MLS). 

Here are some great tips to keep in mind when you're viewing 

  1. We don't want to view too many properties in one day 
  2. Don't be put off by interior decorations – they can and will be changed. 
  3. Bring a notebook, pen and / or digital camera with you as you search. 
  4. Keep a folder with flyers or print­outs on properties that you've viewed. 
  5. When you find a property you like we can plan on visiting it at different times of the day. 
  6. Don't hesitate to ask questions. 

Questions To Ask About The Property
Questions To Ask About The Property


When you've found a home that you're interested in, it's time to make an offer. As your buyer agent, I will draw  up a contract with your offering price and necessary contingencies into a formal contract. You will want to review this document carefully and make sure it states your terms exactly. If the offer is  accepted by a seller, this contract will become a legally binding agreement. 

In addition to an offer contract, you will need to provide earnest money as well as a letter from your lender indicating your qualification to purchase. Earnest Money typically equals roughly 1% ­ 3% of the property purchase price. You will not be at risk of losing  your earnest money as long as you do not default on your contract. The amount will be credited towards the  purchase price of the house at closing. 

After you've made your offer, the seller will be able to: 

1. Accept your offer 
2. Reject your offer 
3. Execute a counter offer 

In most cases, a seller will not accept your initial offer outright. Typical counter offers include  modifications to: 

• Purchase price 
• Closing date 
• Possession date 
• Inclusions 

When you make an offer on a house, you should be prepared for the negotiations to go back and forth several  times before both parties agree to the terms. You might also have to compete with other interested buyers in  certain market conditions. 

When an agreement is reached on all issues, and both the seller and you as the buyer have signed the offer, you  are both under a legally binding contract. 

As a buyer, you will be in a better negotiating position if: 

• You have been pre­approved for a mortgage 
• You are not selling a house at the same time 
• You have not loaded your offer with other contingencies 


Your offer is accepted. Now it's time to get to work. Before we can close on the purchase of your new home,  we need to take a few more steps to make sure the purchase is a sound decision. 

Step 1: Home Inspection / Property Survey 

As the buyer, you have the opportunity to hire a professional inspector to evaluate the condition of the home.  An inspection clause is included in the written contract given to the seller. 

The goal of a home inspection is to give you an objective, independent and comprehensive analysis of  the physical condition of your potential new home and check for any safety issues that might  otherwise be unknowable. 

A professional inspector will check on the structure, construction and mechanical systems of the house. This  usually includes checking these areas: 

Electrical SystemWater source and qualityCeilings
Plumbing and waste disposalLead PaintWalls
Water HeaterPestsFloors
VentilationDoorsRadon gas
HVAC SystemWindowsAsbestos

You will receive a written report of the inspection and an estimate of the cost of any and all repairs. If you  choose to be present during the inspection, you can ask your inspector about unique features of the property  and get his or her opinion on the necessary maintenance for different areas of the property. Depending on the results of the inspection, you will have the opportunity to: 

• Get out of the written offer if major problems are discovered 
• Renegotiate the purchases price to account for necessary repairs 
• Negotiate that repairs are made by the seller before final purchase of the property 

Your lender may also require that a legal land survey be completed of any property on which they issue a  mortgage so that they can obtain a clear lender's title insurance policy. 

A surveyor will determine: 

• Whether the house is within the property borders 
• Whether there are any encroachments on the properties by neighbors 
• The extent to which any easements on the property may affect legal title 

Step 2: Clearing the Home Title

Simply explained, "title" is the right to own, possess, use, control and dispose of property. When you buy a home, you are actually buying the seller's title to the home. A deed is the written legal evidence that the seller has conveyed his or her ownership rights to you.

Before the closing meeting when the actual transfer of ownership occurs, an attorney or title specialist generally conducts a title examination. The purpose of the title examination is to discover any problems that might prevent you from getting clear title to the home. Generally, title problems can be cleared up before settlement. But in some cases, severe title problems can delay settlement, or even cause you to  consider voiding your contract with the seller.

Some "clouds on title" can be corrected relatively easily while others can become quite complicated to remove. You should insist on being kept informed of every step in the title examination process. If title problems are uncovered, it is important for you to understand your legal rights.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is the best way to protect yourself against title defects that have occurred in the past, which may not appear until after you've taken ownership of the property. Before a title insurance policy is issued, a title report is prepared based on a search of the public records.

This report gives a description of the property, along with any title defects, liens, or encumbrances discovered in the course of the title search. It is different than casualty insurance in that you pay a one-time fee and it protects against past (as opposed to future) events.

Title insurance will protect you against title defects that were not discovered in the course of the title search. If such a defect were discovered later, your title insurance would cover you. If title problems are severe enough and not covered by insurance, you could actually lose your house. A title insurance policy protects you and your heirs against title defects for as long as you own your home.

Step 3: Getting an Appraisal

Once you have determined that there are no defects on title and all inspection concerns have been resolved, it is time to order an appraisal. An appraisal is an estimate of the value of a property made by a qualified professional. The appraisal of your prospective home is as important as your credit history in obtaining a mortgage. After all, the the property you are purchasing serves as the collateral for the loan.

Although the primary goal the appraisal is to justify the lender's investment, it also protects you from overpaying. Your lender will generally hire the appraiser and will charge you as the buyer a fee for the service. If the appraisal falls short of the amount you wish to borrow you may be refused a mortgage or offered a smaller amount on the mortgage. Your offer contract will be contingent on whether the appraisal comes in at or above the purchase price you and the seller have agreed upon.

Step 4: Closing

Once all of the purchasing steps and contingencies are cleared, it's time for closing! Closing is the legal transfer of ownership of the home from seller to buyer. It is a formal meeting that most parties involved in the transaction will attend. Closing procedures are usually held at the title company or lawyer's office. Your closing officer will coordinate the signing of documents and the collection of and disbursement of funds.