As far as we’re concerned, you can never be too prepared to buy a home. One of the first decisions buyers have to make is which mortgage lender to work with. While most home hunters need financing to purchase the property of their dreams, many skip doing the homework that could help them secure the best possible financing. That’s why we suggest taking some time to get familiar with the lending landscape—before diving into your search.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and buy a home, here are five tips for finding the ideal lender…

1) Know your options

It may seem simplest to go to your bank for a loan, and there are several potential benefits of doing so. One of the biggest is your shared, preexisting relationship. Working with people who know your full financial history—and how your mortgage will fit into the larger picture—can be seriously convenient! Having said that, more and more buyers are choosing to work with brokers. These are professionals who specialize in mortgages. Unlike banks, they can shop around for the best interest rates, terms, and conditions. Of course, there are also other options available, like online lenders and credit unions. Knowing what’s out there can help you make a more informed decision!

2) Ask around

Don’t get us wrong: when you’re looking for the ideal lender, a bit of online research can go a long way. But there’s also something to be said for hearing directly from the horse’s mouth. Within your network of friends, family members, and coworkers, you’re bound to find a couple of recent home buyers. Asking around—either on social media or the old-fashioned way—could help you find a more helpful and efficient lender than you otherwise would. And don’t forget to talk to your real estate agent! The time we spend helping buyers navigate the process means we can point you in the direction of a reputable, talented, and all-around fantastic professional!

3) Get pre-approved

Want to know some of the most important advice we have for home hunters? Obtain mortgage pre-approval. During this process, a lender will look closely at your finances (including your income and credit) and determine the amount you’ll likely receive. We suggest going this route for a few reasons. First off, it can help you budget during your search. Perhaps even more importantly, sellers look favourably on buyers who have pre-approval, which can give you an edge if there are multiple offers involved. Of course, going through this process doesn’t mean you’re committed to a particular lender. In fact, some buyers keep their options open (and boost their bargaining power) by getting pre-approval from more than one institution.

4) Compare interest rates

When it comes to interest, not all mortgages are created equal. Many buyers are actually surprised to learn just how much rates can vary from one lender to the next. And the comparisons aren’t always straightforward. For example, while adjustable mortgage rates frequently offer low rates to start, they can move up significantly after the introductory period. It takes a mortgage expert to explain some of these key differences. Through a bit of online sleuthing and an honest conversation with a broker or lender you trust, you can make a more fully-informed decision—and secure the best rate possible.

5) Ask the right questions

When you’re deciding which lender to go with, the interview process matters. This is your opportunity to sit across from a finance professional and ask them what they can do for you. It’s also a great time to ask any questions you may have about your financing options. Of course, not every buyer knows what to ask. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! Some of the most crucial questions include whether you can expect to pay loan processing fees (some lenders charge them, others don’t), and whether there’s a pre-payment penalty (which you may be subject to if you pay your mortgage off early). A bit of googling can help you come up with a list of topics to touch on.

Ready to find the Winnipeg home of your dreams? Reach out to learn about our buying process—and discover what’s on the market!

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