I am often contacted by buyers who are excited about beginning the process of looking for a home and want to know how to get started in the process. The first thing that I always ask is if they had talked with a lender about their financing needs.
Unless a buyer is prepared to pay cash for a property, a visit with a reputable lender is always the first step in the home-buying process. When buyers take the time to meet with a lender before venturing out to find the "perfect" home they are assured that they are looking in the proper price range, they know what type of financing is best suited for their situation and they know how much money they will need and have for repairs and updates. By knowing the type of financing that is desired I can help buyers assess properties for some of the criteria that may be required and can prepare an offer to their best advantage when the time comes for an offer.
Additionally the whole process creates less anxiety because buyers now know they can obtain financing and will have a pre-approval letter to present along with any offer they might write. This step also gives buyers time to gather and produce all of the required lender documentation giving them time to enjoy the buying process more later on.
Below is a short explanation of the process from one of the lenders with whom I work: