Buying a house:
What to do before you make an offer on a home

Whether you’re just thinking about buying a home or about to close, we help you take control of the process.

Whether you’re just thinking about buying a home or about to close, we help you take control of the process.


Before you make an offer on a home

Before you make an offer on a home

1. Prepare to shop

Not sure how to get started, how much you can afford, or what to expect when buying and financing a home? Set yourself up for success with a little bit of preparation.

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Credit report checklist

Preparing to shop for your mortgage

Buying a home is exciting. It’s also one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make. Choosing a mortgage to pay for your new home is just as important. Don’t rush into it.

Goals for this phase

Determine how much you want to spend on a home

Decide if it’s the right time to buy a new home

Gather your application paperwork

Action steps

Before you start shopping for a home and a mortgage, set yourself up for success by taking time to prepare. Use our step-by-step guide to check your credit, assess your finances, set your home-price budget, and more.

Spending tracker


Before you make an offer on a home

2. Explore loan choices

Once you have a pretty good idea of your priorities and budget, you’re ready to start home shopping in earnest. Now is also the time to start exploring loan choices and meeting with lenders.

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Understand loan options

Explore interest rates


Exploring your loan choices

Don’t wait until you find a home to start thinking about how to finance it. Take time now to explore your mortgage choices so that you’re ready when the right home comes along.

Goals for this phase

Contact multiple lenders to explore your choices

Select the type of loan that fits your needs

Place an offer on a home

Action steps

Follow the steps below to meet with lenders, ask questions, and decide what kind of mortgage is right for you. Getting a preapproval letter helps you show sellers that you are a serious buyer–but it doesn’t commit you to a lender. In the next phase, you’ll compare offers from different lenders and choose the best deal.

 Tools for this phase

Glossary of loan options

Learn more about the different kinds of loans available and what to consider when deciding what kind of loan is right for you.

Interest rate explorer

The kind of loan you choose affects the interest rate you can expect to receive. Our tool lets you explore rates for different loan options.



Before you make an offer on a home

3. Compare loan offers

Once you’ve found the right home, it’s time to find the right mortgage. Get official loan offers from lenders, compare your options, and choose the loan offer that’s right for you.

Get started


Explore interest rates

Loan Estimate explainer


Comparing loan offers

Once you are ready to move forward with your home purchase, it’s time to choose a mortgage loan and a lender.

A Loan Estimate is a standardized form that tells you important details about your loan offer. Our guide tells you what to look for when comparing your offers and how to negotiate your offer.

Goals for this phase

Request Loan Estimates from multiple lenders

Compare offers and fine-tune your options

Choose a loan offer

Action steps

Follow the steps below to get and compare Loan Estimates from different lenders.

 Tools for this phase

Interest rate explorer

Our tool shows you a range of rates you may expect to receive for different loan options.

Loan Estimate explainer

Our interactive sample form helps you double-check the details and get definitions for terms used on the Loan Estimate form.


4. Get ready to close

Once you’ve chosen a mortgage loan, it’s time to focus on the closing process. There will be lots of paperwork to submit and things to keep track of. We lay it out for you step by step.

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Closing checklist

Closing Disclosure explainer

Guide to closing forms

Before you make an offer on a home


Closing on your new home

Once your purchase offer has been accepted by the seller and you have chosen a loan and a lender, it’s time to focus on the closing process.

You’ll need to provide your lender with additional documents, so stay alert for requests and notifications. You’ll also need to get a home inspection and shop for homeowner’s and title insurance.

Goals for this phase

Submit documents required for underwriting (approval) of your loan

Choose the closing service providers you need for closing

Close (sign the papers) on your home and the loan you use to pay for it

 Tools for this phase

Closing checklist

Our closing checklist lets you know what to expect at closing and what questions to ask so you will be prepared.

Closing Disclosure explainer

Our interactive sample form helps you double-check the details and get definitions for terms used on the Closing Disclosure form.

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