Whether a person is buying their first home or their 15th, this is my response every time....Speak with a LOCAL, REPUTABLE LOAN ORIGINATOR! Here are 3 reasons why this is always my response:
1-It's not what you qualify for, it's what you are comfortable spending each month in a house payment. You don't want to be house "poor" with too much of your monthly income going to a payment and no $ for other activities or emergencies nor do you want to settle when you could get a better house in the next neighborhood.
2-Work with someone local, who depends on referrals and word of mouth for their stream of leads and future business. This person is much more willing to get it closed on time than someone remotely or over the internet that will never see you or care if you are stranded because you loan was 3 days late. It's about service with this person and in a home purchase you need service!
3-Ask your realtor for a referral, why, because we do this every day and I can sure tell you who has a good reputation and who I dread working with. If they consistently close on time and return calls, I like to work with them and so will you!