House hunting has never been more easy, interactive or enjoyable with websites like Zillow and Redfin, as well as video and photo technology. With a few swipes, you can learn and see everything you dreamed about in your future home.

As much fun as kicking off your home-buying journey with this technology may be, your time may be better served shopping for a loan first. Getting a pre-approval will make your home search that much more enjoyable because you’ll save time and energy.

When you begin your home search, you may be unaware of your fiscal snapshot. Before you begin your search, see if you can answer the following: What’s your credit score? How much house can you afford? What are the loan terms?

A pre-approval answers those questions. And knowing those answers will help you focus your home search.

First, it’s important to understand that a pre-approval is a firm, but preliminary commitment from your lender to fund the loan. During the process, lenders will examine your income, assets, debt and other information to get a complete understanding of your financial situation. This allows the lender to issue a letter of commitment explaining the loan amount and other valuable information like fees.

This pre-approval carries more weight than a pre-approval, which doesn’t require as much financial scrutiny to obtain. It will also provide you with clarity so you aren’t shopping with blinders on, which will put the fun back into your home search. Now that you know how much home you can afford, you can find your price range and see houses within that range. A pre-approval also allows you to budget properly to prepare for the new monthly expenses associated with purchasing a new home.

Along with those benefits, acquiring a pre-approval is a time-saver. If, for example, your lender recommends that you work on improving your credit score, you’ll need time to do so. It can take months or few phone calls and proper documentation. Either way, some unforeseen factors could emerge during this process, and it is more productive to take care of them on the front-end them before diving into the market.

So, now the question is, how do you get pre-approved? It’s not as hard as you think. You’ll just need to supply us with some documents, including recent pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns and the like. To get a more complete picture of the documentation we will need, click here.

Once armed with this information, your home search will be more enjoyable and productive.