I'm looking to buy a first home in the next few months. At this point I thought I would check out the mortgage options as in my mind I'd need to have a mortgage agreed before going to look at houses.
On calling my bank, they said they can only do a phone interview (which in my mind isn't much beyond an online mortgage calculator) and that I would only need to actually 'apply' once I have had an offer accepted.
My question is multipart:
Am I wrong about the process? it seems chicken and egg to me, how can I put an offer in if I don't know I have a mortgage available?
I'd like to speak to an advisor as there are a few ways I can juggle my finances in the next 3-6 months and I'd like to understand the impact of these (for example I could apply as just me, or me and my girlfriend and I need to understand if her income on top of mine will benefit the application, even as she has a fairly high amount of outstanding debt). The bank don't seem to offer me this, so what's the best option to find the answer to these kind of questions (ideally free!)
How can I rate shop / find the best deal if I don't know the answer to to types of question from point 2 and therefore don't know which mortgages would be available?
An example if what I'm trying to describe would be this (fictional numbers):
Say I can apply individually and get a mortgage for £100,000 with a rate of 10%, but if I apply with my girlfriend we could get a mortgage of £150,00 with a rate of 20%. We'd then maybe think that getting a lower priced house would both benefit the interest and would adjust our property search appropriately.
I don't see how I can do this, without understanding in more detail than I currently have (or am being offered).