How should I start the process of looking for a home?
The best way to start the process of purchasing of home is to get a mortgage pre-approval from a licensed mortgage banker. But, before you do that, I suggest that you obtain a copy of your own credit report from the 3 national credit agencies (Transunion, Equifax, Experian) & review it for accuracy. If you see any information that is inaccurate, file dispute(s) w/ the credit agencies. Your mortgage banker will ask you for relevant financial documentation e.g. recent pay stubs, last 2 years of federal tax returns, recent bank statements, etc…. Collect all of these documents before-hand to help streamline the process. If you can save them in PDF format, even better… It’ll save you time later & the less faxing you have to do, the better.
A mortgage pre-approval is like shopping for a house, w/ a briefcase full of cash. It gives you an extra level of confidence that once you do find the house that is a great fit for you, you will be able to make a solid offer, & secure financing as quickly as possible. Also, it lets the seller know that you are a serious buyer that is prepared to secure financing & increases the chances that they will accept your offer.