This is a common question, and most people probably think my response would be to say “Start Looking” or “Find a realtor you enjoy working with.” But in all reality, the very first step is to find out how much house you can buy. In the real estate industry, we call this “pre-qualifying.” It is an important first step, because you learn what range of homes you can afford to buy, preventing you from future disappointment.
To get “pre-qualified,” I would recommend that you make an appointment with a lender for a face-to-face meeting, but it can be done over the phone as well. Your lender will ask you for some important financial data. It is crucial that you be honest with them, because once you have a home identified and have an accepted offer, your loan will go to the “underwriting” department, where all the information you gave earlier will be scrutinized to assure the lender that the risk is worth it.