The first step toward purchasing a home is to speak with lenders so you know how much money you have to spend. This is called a "pre-approval" and is based on your monthly income, debt load, and credit rating. This will not only help as a starting place for house hunting, but also when it comes time to make an offer. Those buyers that have been pre-approved look more attractive to home sellers because the sellers know that they are dealing with a well-suited buyer.

To obtain a pre-approval, I recommend starting with the bank at which you do business and then going to at least 2 other local lenders to make sure you are receiving the best rates. Having trouble finding other local lenders? Just ask me and I can help.

Keep in mind that banks are businesses too and it is in your best interest to arm yourself with knowledge. Federal law mandates that you can receive one free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus each year. To receive your free credit reports, go to, and, for a small additional charge, you can obtain your credit rating. You can also go to, or and pay for your credit report and score. Having this information will help you get the best rates available, help you lower your rates in the future, and help protect from credit fraud. If you have any questions about your credit report or how to lower your credit rating, I recommend you speak with your banker or financial advisor.

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