Your Comprehensive Homebuying Guide

Buying your first home is a big investment. We’re here to make the process as easy as possible and keep you informed every step of the way.

It's time to buy your home.

Congratulations! You have decided to buy a home, but you have to do your research first.
What is pre-qualification?
What are the benefits of pre-qualifying today?
Pre-qualification determines your ability to repay a loan based on information you provide. Your liability, asset and income information are reviewed by a licensed mortgage loan originator to establish the maximum purchase price you can afford and how much you may be able to borrow.
Pre-qualification may establish you as a serious buyer when looking at real estate, give you an advantage over other buyers looking at the same property, and let you know what you can afford before home shopping.
Understanding Your Credit Report
Check your own credit score before meeting with a lender.
It’s important to make sure that your score is accurate when applying for a loan. You can get a free credit report once a year online by visiting
Verify the report to make sure you have the correct information.
Report and dispute inaccuracies with the credit bureau. Disputes in process may delay loan approval.
Paying down high credit balances may positively affect your score.
By paying down applicable lines of credit before applying for a loan, you may qualify and get approved for a better interest rate.
Set up payment plans.
Call your creditors and work out a budget-friendly payment plan on delinquent accounts prior to applying for a loan. Work out a plan that won’t harshly affect your debt-to-income ratio but will still let lenders know you are serious about being credible for your debts.
Meet Your Licensed Loan Originator
If you pre-qualified, you should be in contact with a licensed loan originator. If you have not, give us a call today to discuss your options and get started. Together, we’ll choose a mortgage product that will meet your needs. If you want to get an idea of what kind of product may be right for you, see our loan types. A licensed loan originator will assess your financial situation and make a recommendation.
Estimate Your Expenses
Use our online calculators to get a general idea of how much home you can afford. Determine how much home you can afford, what your estimated monthly mortgage payment may be, how much your down payment should be, and more. When budgeting to plan for a mortgage, a loan originator will help you include:
In addition to ongoing costs, remember to factor in one-time costs during the buying process, including closing costs and your down payment.
Get Pre-Approved
It determines your ability to repay a loan based on information you provide. Your liability, asset and income information are reviewed by a licensed mortgage loan originator to establish the maximum purchase price you can afford and how much you may be able to borrow.
This is a written commitment from a lender to extend a mortgage to you for a specific amount and time period.It is important to understand the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval.

A Pre-qualification determines your ability to repay a loan based on information you provide. Your liability, asset and income information are reviewed by a licensed mortgage loan originator to establish the maximum purchase price you can afford and how much you may be able to borrow. A Pre-approval is when your information is reviewed and verified by an underwriter. This involves an analysis of your financial status and credit history. With a pre-approval, you’ll be able to negotiate your home purchase confidently. Realtors and sellers will often take your offer more seriously if you get pre-approved prior to house shopping because it lets them know you are ready to make a deal. A pre-approval may help streamline your process and result in a smoother transaction.
Find the Right Realtor
Now that you have initiated the pre-approval process, and have an idea of how much you are comfortable spending, a realtor can help you through the home buying process. Finding the right realtor is just as important as finding the right lender. Make sure that you work with a real estate agent you can trust, has a proven track record, and has your best interests at heart. It’s useful to get referrals from family and friends who’ve been through the home buying process.
Avoid Dual Agents
It is also commonly advised to avoid dual agents when going through the home buying process. A dual agent is a real estate agent who represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction. This is often a conflict of interest since it’s possible that the agent will not negotiate in the buyer’s interest in order to increase the commission. If you do use a dual agent, make sure it’s someone you trust completely.
Interview several agents before choosing one
You may consider asking them a set of similar questions:
Start House Hunting
You have a lender and you have a realtor. Your next step will be to start looking at houses. It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of becoming a homeowner at this point. You may only be thinking about yard space, decorations and the amount of bedrooms you want, but it is important to consider all aspects of the property before moving forward.
Location, Location, Location!
Consider the crime rate, public school ratings, your daily commute, traffic patterns, and local amenities when choosing a home. If public parks, libraries, pools, sporting arenas, churches, restaurants or shopping centers are important to you, make sure you consider their proximity to your neighborhood before getting lost in visions of porch swings and curtains.
Be aware the condition the home is in.
You may think you have found your dream home, but keep in mind any extra stress or costs that may come up when you’re learning about that crack in the wall or the furnace system from decades ago. If you’re going for a fixer-upper, make sure you have factored in time to your moving process, in addition to additional expenses. (Also note that an FHA203(k) will allow a buyer to finance qualified repairs).
It's Time to Start the Loan Process
By now, you’ve obtained your lender, you’ve gotten pre-approved, and you’ve found your dream home. It is time to start the loan process! Meet with your licensed loan originator to help you gather paperwork and submit your mortgage application.
Gather all your necessary paperwork and identification
Identity and Income Information
Income Information for Self-Employed Borrowers
Credit Information
Income & Tax Documentation
These documents may not be all-inclusive, but by having these on hand, you will expedite the application.
Submit Your Application
Fill out and sign Form 1003 — the residential loan application — including the attached fair lending notice, loan info sheet, and credit authorization. Note: Do not use whiteout on this paperwork. Mistakes should be crossed out and initialed.
Review Your Loan Estimate
This document contains important details about the loan your are applying for including estimations of your interest rate, monthly payment, closing costs, taxes, insurance and any prepayment penalties. The lender must provide this to you within three business days of receiving your application.
Review Your Good Faith Estimate
This is the list of the settlement charges that you must pay at closing. The lender must provide this to you within three business days of receiving the mortgage application.
Clear Any Additional Requests from Underwriting
Underwriting is the department that reviews all of your identification, paperwork, and credit history to asses if you will qualify for the desired loan. They determine the terms of the loan and will occasionally require extra documents to fully understand your background and make their decision. It is important to make yourself available during the underwriting process and to respond to any requests promptly and thoroughly.
Review Your Closing Disclosure
The lender must provide this to you at least three business days before you close your loan. This document contains the final terms of your loan. Use this timeframe to review it thoroughly and compare it to your loan estimate. Don’t be afraid to ask your lender questions if you are unclear about the terms.
Make Your Offer
You may want to keep several factors in mind as you and your real estate agent get ready to present an offer to the seller.
After the Offer is Accepted
Before closing, clarify when the seller will be vacating the home. If they remain on the property after the closing date, you are entitled to negotiate rent payments.
Get a Home Appraisal
Inspections are important to help you fully understand the condition of a home. They can also be helpful for negotiations to help drive prices down or have additional services stipulated in the contract.
Take the time to get commitments in writing.
During the sales process, a seller may make a variety of verbal guarantees. For example, the seller may promise to fix the roof before move-in or provide all of the kitchen appliances. Make sure this information is included in writing in any agreements you sign. If an agreement is not explicitly written in a contract, the seller is not obligated to abide by it. This also includes all of the details of your loan. Make sure the amount, payments, rate lock, and other details are clearly stated in writing in a signed document.
Set Closing Date, Time & Location
Bring along any co-applicants and your realtor, if you would feel more comfortable having them present. Closing usually takes place in the presence of a public notary. You should be prepared for several things:
If you currently have an apartment, condo or house lease
Consider scheduling your closing date around the time that your lease will be up. Some homebuyers prefer to not have a payment overlap, while others enjoy the overlap if they have projects that need to be completed in the new home.
Get Your New Set of Keys!
Congratulations, you are now a homeowner! Although you may now have the key to your future, don’t forget about the key to your mortgage. Arrowhead Home Loans is here to offer you guidance on any future questions or situations that may arise. A licensed loan officer will always be available to help you refinance, use your home equity, or even purchase additional properties to build your investment portfolio.