When you buy a home, it's in your best interest to have a REALTOR to represent you. One that can represent your needs, negotiate for the best price on your behalf. Someone to help find a lender for you, if needed. Someone to guide you through the process, with your needs as their priority.
When you visit a new home community, the salesperson that greets you works for the builder. That means the builder interest is their primary concern? As nice as they might be, and as much as they do their best to help, the bottom line is this; the builder comes first.
There is nothing wrong with this. But wouldn't it be nice to have someone looking out for you?
That's why buyer representation in a new home purchase is important. And that is something I specialize in. And I have an advantage that most REALTORS don't. I spent 12 years as a new homes representative. Check out my LinkedIn profile to find out more.
Whether loking for a new home or an existing home, you MUST get pre-approved before you get started. Two reasons; first, do you really want to find the perfect home, and then fine out your not qualified to buy it? Second, it is highly unlikely that a seller will accept your offer without a pre-approved loan letter.
By the way, a pre-qualification letter, won't cut it. You need to be pre-approved. HUGE difference.