With mortgage rates remaining at historic lows, and real estate markets recovered, it’s a great time to consider buying a home. Before you begin searching for your new home, however, it is important to determine how much you can afford and how much of a loan amount is prudent. Fortunately, obtaining a mortgage pre-approval gives you the advantage of answering both of those questions. In addition, it's the first item that a real estate agent will ask about before they take you house-hunting. Having a mortgage pre-approval is especially important in this very competitive home buying environment.