So you're ready to buy a home? What can I afford? First you'll need to pre-qualify, usually over the phone. Think of it as a draft, supplying the bank or lender your overall financial scene, including debt, income & assets. Next, you'll need to be pre-approved for a mortgage, this is when they dig deeper checking out your credit report, so you'll know the "real" figures you have to work with. Some like to search based on location or price. Others have their realtor suggest some good options. Maintain a file on your search with things like general location & affordability, refining as you go, the things you like & things you don't to compare from home to home as you shop.