You can gain a distinct advantage over other homebuyers by arranging for financing before you put an offer on a home.
A preapproval is a written letter from your lender that tells you, real estate agents and home sellers how much you can borrow, and that you have acceptable credit. A preapproval will give you an edge over other buyers in multiple offers or negotiating situations, because the seller will know you are qualified to buy the house.
Once you're pre-approved, you'll also receive a good faith estimate of the costs you'll need to pay at closing. By starting the mortgage process early, you'll be in a better position as you search for and make an offer on a home.
However, don't get preapproval confused with pre-qualification. Pre-approval provides more assurance to sellers than a pre-qualification. A pre-qualification is a non-binding opinion of how much you may be able to borrow, but it doesn't ensure that your credit will be acceptable for a mortgage in that amount.
There are many types of mortgages available, each having different rates and features. Learn more about mortgage financing.