The housing market is the hottest it has been in years. If you’re looking for a new home, First Federal Bank & Trust says now is a great time to take advantage of low interest rates and buy. The type of mortgage and down payment you pursue can have a long-term effect on your finances, so you want to make sure your working with the best professionals in the area.

Familiar with the market and the area, First Federal Bank & Trust has been a locally owned and operated bank since 1935. They offer business, personal, home loans, and more banking options in the area. Because of their experience and background, we asked their leaders for their top tips on shopping for a mortgage:

1) Hire a Loan Officer that is Local. The loan officer can make the process easy and fast. Be sure you find someone with whom you are able to communicate well. A local lender will make sure EVERYTHING is filled out accurately and avoid mishaps. It’ll also avoid headaches later on.

2) Know Your Market – And Make Sure Your Loan Officer Does.  A knowledgable loan officer will have a good indication of what the previous real estate costs and recent fluctuations, giving you a leg up throughout the process. "We know your neighborhood because it's our neighborhood too," says Becki Brilz, a home loan specialist with First Federal Bank & Trust.

3) Check Your Credit Score. If you have a low credit score, you'll want to work with your loan officer to improve it as much as possible. The higher your credit score, the more bargaining power you’ll have and the better loan terms you'll be able to secure.

4) Ensure You Are Preapproved. Once you find a lender, work with them to get preapproved. With today's fast-paced market, there’s no time to waste. First Federal Bank & Trust says having a preapproved mortgage will improve your chances of having your offer accepted on your dream home.

5) Get All the Details. Your loan officer can act as an interpreter for the fine print. Find out about requirements and fees, including costs beyond principal and interest payments. That way you can truly compare your various options and make an informed decision on which loan is best for you and your family.

What are you waiting for? Before you start house-hunting, reach out to our friends at First Federal Bank & Trust online or by calling 406-652-3381.