Should I shop for a loan before or after I find a place to buy?
It's a good idea to let an agent help you look for financing before you find a home. The agent is in constant contact with many lenders, and can act as an invaluable "clearing house" of information. If you're actively house hunting but have not found the right home yet, ask the lender to do a "screening application." This details your income, debts and assets.
Knowing where you stand concerning how much money a lender will lend you (based on your income and credit rating) puts you in a good bargaining position. Sellers faced by deciding between two buyers -- one who is
"pre-screened" by a lender -- may favor the offer of the buyer for whom getting a loan is almost a sure thing.