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Finding the Home or Getting Your Mortgage — Which Comes First?

Know where you stand

I’m not a mortgage broker but I’ve worked with many of them over the last 20+ years. So I feel very comfortable offering basic mortgage advice.

Have you seen the famous Saturday Night Live skit about Zillow? Dan Levy hosted this hysterical skit about buyers lusting after properties online that they couldn’t afford. We all love to dream about the perfect home but when it comes time to purchase a property in NYC it will take some focus to find a home you love that also makes good financial sense.

There is nothing wrong with browsing online and attending open houses before you are pre-approved for a mortgage, but you could waste time and wear yourself out or worse you could fall in love with a property you cannot afford.

There are plenty of benefits to knowing exactly where you stand financially before you begin looking at properties. Some homeowners request that their broker see your pre-approval letter for your mortgage before they will schedule an appointment. When you get pre-approved for a mortgage the loan officer will request many of the documents you will be required to produce for your purchase application to the building. Getting these documents together will ultimately expedite the process of purchasing. You also cannot submit an offer to purchase without your pre-approval letter. In any market a great property which is well priced sells quickly, so get your docs in order now so you don’t lose out to the competition.

Learn more on how to get high mortgage rates

The time frame for putting your finances in order is anywhere from one week to three weeks — depending on how many of the statements you have ready to go. The benefit of doing this work upfront is that it allows you to analyze a property through the lens of your financial goals. Are the monthly common charges and taxes too high for you or do they fit within your budget?

How much you need for the down payment and the closing costs will also be mapped out. While rare, there are opportunities where you can put down as little as 5%. Many banks are offering great incentives right now including cash toward closing which is an important factor in choosing a property. Once you have the financing information which fits your financial goals, head back online, start going out to see properties and resume dreaming about the perfect home for you!