When you decide you are ready to buy a house, the first inclination is to start searching realtor.com, zillow, and other online sites. You are wise to hit the lender search right away as well. We hear a lot about interest rates, but make sure you are looking at more than just that one variable. Mortgage loan programs may include origination fees that vary a great deal by lender. And there are a whole variety of programs - first time homebuyer, jumbo loan programs, adjustable rate loans (ARMs), VA, FHA, conventional - yup the list can be a little daunting!
The best way to sort this out and see what's best for you is to find a good mortgage loan officer. There are a lot of people who can help you with the paperwork so part of your research should include finding a loan officer who seems to get you, and who takes the time to ask enough about your circumstances to be able to offer you the types of programs that serve you best. Just like you should interview realtors to find the one who you will enjoy working with, you should also interview lenders to make sure you are comfortable with that part of your home buying team. It really is a team - your lender, your realtor, and you - it is all of our job to make sure you find just the right now and then that you get to closing on time and without hiccups.
In my experience, you are usually best served by working with a local lender. They know this market and are connected to underwriters and appraisers who also understand this market. This is critical both to make sure your loan is evaluated appropriately and proceeds through all the steps in a timely manner. If you would like suggestions on lenders, please feel free to contact me! And always - if you have any other questions - give me a shout. Part of my job is making sure you have the right tools to accomplish a great home purchase!