Although lending practices have been more stringent, here are a few tips I give all my clients to get the best deal on a mortgage. 

1. Shop around.  Interview a minimum of 3 to 4 lenders. Try a big national bank, such as Bank of America. Interview a local lender or credit union, and lastly try the internet. These 3 offer different advantages and disadvantages, it's up to you what kind of service you're looking for.

2. Inquire about all your options. There are many choices when hunting for a home loan. 30 year fixed rate, 15 year fixed rate, and adjustable rate mortgages. This last option seems to get a negative review after the housing crisis, but it's a viable option if it fits what your future plans are. The interest rate are usually significantly lower, although they will increase over time. If you have questions about this 

3. Request locking in your rate. This week we did see a dip in the mortgage rates, but the trend is showing that rates are still on the rise. You might want to consider locking in the rate that you were quoted to insure you get that rate instead of a higher percentage. 

4. Educate yourself about the different types of loans. There are many out there, so figure out which ones you will qualify for. FHA, VA, Down payment assistance, ect. These all have requirements to qualify, but make sure you find the one that best suits you. 

5. Start NOW! If you truly are planning to buy a house within a year, start the process now!  You need to know where you stand and what you need to do in order to make your application the best it can be. So gather your tax returns for the past 2 years, your bank statements, and your paycheck stubs and let's get started!