We are starting to think about buying our first home and have no clue what we’re doing. I’ve tried so many mortgage calculators online and they all give different numbers. How do you know how much you will be approved for? Can you get “approved” for a certain amount and then let the time lapse before you actually put in an offer? We are not in a hurry so we’d prefer to wait for the right house. But I also don’t want to be way off mark when looking and then be surprised when we aren’t approved for that much.

We also will probably be doing some renovations before/after moving in with some cash. How do we know when looking what sort of renovations are possible and the potential cost? Do you bring along a contractor? Do you pay them for the consultation?

We feel very lost and overwhelmed. We feel very confident in our financial situation, but home buying is throwing us for a loop and I think we’re terrified of making the wrong decision.