Why Get Pre-Qualified?
1- You need to determine how much house you can afford.
2- You need to show the seller you are ready to close.
How much can you afford? This will depend on 4 factors:
1) Your credit: Credit reports are kept by the three major credit agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A low credit score may hurt your chances of getting the best interest rate or getting financing at all. So get a copy of your reports and know your credit scores.
2) Your Income: The rule of thumb is to aim for a home that costs about two-and-a-half times your gross annual salary. If you have significant credit card debt or other financial obligations like alimony or even an expensive hobby, then you may need to set your sights lower. Another rule of thumb: All your monthly home payments should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income.
3) Your down payment amount: You'll need to come up with cash for your down payment and closing costs. Lenders like to see 20% of the home's price as a down payment. If you can put down more than that, the lender may be willing to approve a larger loan. If you have less, you'll need to find loans that can accommodate you. If you qualify, it's possible to pay as little as 3.5% up front.
4) Closing costs: These may include the appraisal fee, loan fees, attorney's fees, inspection fees, and the cost of a title search. They can easily add up to more than $10,000. First-time homebuyers can withdraw up to $10,000 without penalty from an Individual Retirement Account. You can also receive a cash gift of up to $14,000 a year from each of your parents without triggering a gift tax.