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

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.

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

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.

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.

Understand the different kinds of loans available

  • Learn about loan coasts
  • Contact multiple lenders
  • Gather and update your paperwork
  • Get a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter
  • Select the kind of loans that fit your needs
  • Find the right 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.

When you’re 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.

Request Loan estimates from multiple lenders


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.

Get started

4. 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

Action steps

Signing your closing documents is the final step. Take time to review them carefully. Once you sign, you’re responsible for the mortgage loan.


Credit report checklist

Understand loan options

Explore interest rates

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.

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.

Explore interest rates

Explore interest rates

Loan Estimate explainer

Loan Estimate explainer

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

Closing checklist

Closing Disclosure explainer

Guide to closing forms

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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