This bears repeating: A homebuyer's best strategy is to do her/his homework.
Alot of times, potential homeowner's think that looking at houses online, before actually getting out to look at homes, qualifies as research. While this may be true to a certain extent, finding the house is really one of the last steps. I have written before about the importance of choosing a professional Buyer's Agent early on in the process, so I won't get in to that here. However, the next-most-important piece of the puzzle is the money...how are you going to pay for the home that you choose, and how are you going to convince the seller to negotiate with you (ie with a pre-approval letter)?
While looking at properties online, no matter what site or sites you use, you will be bombarded with offers of financing from a myriad of companies, brokers and banks. Be wary, be VERY wary. Predatory lending is a huge problem these days, especially online. I highly recommend that you get lender references from people you know who have had good experiences, work with the bank that currently handles your other accounts (checking, savings, etc), or, the absolute best choice, ask your Buyer's Agent for some lender references! This is the best choice because your Agent knows who does a good job in the area you are purchasing in and, hopefully, the recommendations will be based solely on his/her successful transactions with them and past client satisfaction.
The two rules of thumb with regard to obtaining mortgage financing are as follows: 1) The more questions you ask, the better; and, 2) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I am not making light of this but these are the simplest, basic truths when it comes to avoiding predatory lending and, worse, possible eventual foreclosure.
So, here is your homework: write to me at email@example.com for a list of reputable Pocono lenders and a copy of a great pamphlet, 'How to Avoid Predatory Lending', which was put together through a joint effort of the National Association of REALTORS (c) and The Center for Responsible Lending. It details warning signs, what can happen and what questions you should be asking a prospective lender. This is only available in hard copy, so please send me your name, snail-mail address and phone # (in case there is a problem with your order-don't worry, I won't harrass you on the phone or give or sell the # to anyone!).
Additionally, do some reading online: www.hud.gov/buying/index/cfm is a great place to start.
And of course, post your questions here, give me a call, or send me an email!