Spring time is upon us and that means the beginning of the real estate selling and buying season. Homebuyers are out in big numbers looking for homes and sellers are preparing their homes to sell. If you will be looking for a mortgage lender this spring here are a few tips:

IT’S A NEW MARKET: How the subprime woes affect you?

A number of subprime mortgage lenders are in trouble. Stock markets have been struggling because of worries about lenders who underwrite mortgages for people with less-than-enviable credit. Some two dozen companies have been affected. The crisis is also hitting better known banks and Wall Street brokerages that invested in these loans. The impacts are being felt from Tokyo to London.

A recent study predicted that one is five subprime mortgages issued in 2005-2006 will fail.

In addition, to hedge their risk and compensate for their losses, lending standards have tightened. That means if you have less-than-enviable credit, it’s going to be harder to qualify for a mortgage. You may be paying higher rates on your loan because lenders are commanding higher returns to compensate for their losses.

Do your homework. Since lending standards are likely to be more strict, you should have a very good sense of what your credit history is like before you start calling up mortgage lenders. Some lenders may consider a FICO score below 620 to be more risky, but today, even if you have a slightly better score, you may be considered a risk.

Comparison shop. Don’t wait until the last minute to search for mortgage options. You’ll want to get offers from at least three lenders so you can compare the terms of your mortgage.

Look for ways to negotiate price. Have your real estate agent come up with a price per square foot by evaluating houses that are on the market now in the area you are looking at. Those houses should be similar to the one you’re looking to buy in size, number of bedrooms, and other major features. This gives you a rule of thumb you can use to compare homes you’re considering and know what price you should be looking for.