Shopping for a home can be fun but shopping for a mortgage loan can complicate the situation. Diana Olick explains how to choose the best option for you.

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The recent drop in mortgage rates may have you dreaming of buying a new home or refinancing your current house. You’re not alone.

Housing sentiment has surged thanks to those low rates, according to government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Its monthly survey, released Monday, shows that positive sentiment in March jumped to the highest level since June — which was just below the record high.

Mortgage application volume also rose after rates saw their biggest weekly decline at the end of March. Volumes were up 28% from a year prior, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

But if you are among those who may be put off by the application process, or aren’t sure if it is the right move to make — you should still check things out, said Matt Weaver, loan officer and vice president of sales at Cross Country Mortgage, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

“Speak to someone that is a professional in the industry and get preapproved upfront to see where you stand — whether you are looking to buy today, six months from now or a year from now,” he said.

The deep drop in rates came in the week ended March 28. The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.06% with an average 0.5 point, according to Freddie Mac. (Like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored mortgage company.)

Rates have since fluctuated slightly. The average 30-year home loan rate is now 4.07%, according to Bankrate’s latest survey of the country’s largest mortgage lenders on Monday.

“We did not think that we would see interest rates come back to these numbers,” Weaver said. “We were pretty certain the train had left the station and wasn’t coming back.

“It’s worth coming out and taking advantage of this.”

To start, it’s important to know how much you can afford.

For one, you’ll need money for a down payment.

Typically, that is about 10% to 20% of the purchase price of the home, depending on the type of mortgage. By putting down a higher amount, you may be able to lower the interest rate on your loan. However, there are also mortgages that allow lower down payments, such as 3% or 5%, and even some with no money down.

Bear in mind that you’ll have to take out private mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20% on a conventional loan. The annual cost of PMI is approximately 1% of your outstanding loan balance and is added to your monthly mortgage payment, according to Chase.

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