SOURCE: The Fiscal Times, via C.A.R.

With the spring housing market in full swing, prospective buyers are battling rising prices and tight inventory. Still, it’s not all bad news for today’s buyers. While lending standards are far stricter than they were during the height of the housing boom, it is nevertheless possible for most qualified borrowers to get a loan these days. Here are a few tips. You can read the full story here. 

Start the process early. If you’re serious about buying a house this year, you need to meet with a mortgage lender now. That will give you a better idea of how much you can realistically borrow to purchase a house. You’ll also be able to get a pre-approval letter, required by most sellers these days before they’ll consider your offer.

Shop around. Get quotes from at least three lenders, including a national bank, a local bank or credit union and an online lender. Having multiple offers may help you negotiate with the lender you ultimately end up using for your mortgage.

Understand private mortgage insurance. While putting down 20 percent will typically get you the lowest monthly payment, a growing number of lenders now also offer low down payment loan programs in which you can put down as little as 0 percent on the loan.

Ask about all your loan options. In addition to figuring out how much you’ll put into a down payment, make sure you’re considering all available loan options, including fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages, and shorter-term loans like 15-year mortgages. Consider locking in your rate since mortgage rates can fluctuate.

Remember you don’t need to borrow the max. If you’re in a competitive market where bidding wars are common, it can be tempting to find a home or make an offer for the maximum amount for which your lender has approved you. Before you do, consider the short and long-term impact of those mortgage payments on your budget and lifestyle.