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Ellen Koeppen
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NOW THAT YOU HAVE DECIDED TO BUY REAL ESTATE YOU CAN SAVE YOURSELF A GREAT AMOUNT OF TIME BY DOING A FEW THINGS PRIOR TO LOOKING FOR THE IDEAL PROPERTY.  

THE GREEN FILE:  A Green File should contain all of your important financial documents your lender will need to make a 'loan'. Start by making copies of all your financial statements: bank accounts, investments, credit cards, auto loans, recent pay stubs and two years tax returns. If you haven't already, start saving a down payment and extra funds for incidental home buying and closing cost (i.e., inspection, appraisals, title insurance, moving expenses).

GET THE BORING, DIFFICULT TASK OUT of THE WAY FIRST: If you don't have a mortgage lender that you work with on a regular basis now is the time to find one. Friends or relatives may be able to refer you to someone they've used in the past. Take your 'green file' to the lender and tell him/her what you hope to accomplish.

PRE-APPROVED LETTER: Being pre-approved let's you concentrate on finding the right property. The 'can I afford it' stress is gone! It also gives you an edge when it comes time to make an offer to purchase a property.

CAUTION: Don't buy that new car or furniture!! When you're applying for a new property loan do not add additional debt without checking with you lender. In most cases this can change the amount of money a lender will lend you. So, if you're planning on financing a car, furniture or vacation (credit card) hold off until after your loan 'closes'.