Gargantuan Homebuying Diving Board of Doom

We’ve been looking to buy a house for the last two and a half years. Actually, it was more like dreaming of buying a house. We knew it wasn’t in the cards for us, but every few months or so one of us (usually me) would hop on a real estate listing website and peruse the local market. It was always a time filled with wishful thinking and re-committing to our household budget so that we could save a down payment. “Someday” was always on the brain. “Someday. Someday we’ll have a house, too. But not now.”

Well, the more we’ve been looking lately, and the more the prices have come down, and the more the mortgage rates have gone down, and the better the government benefits of buying a home get, the more it looks like the time is nigh. We’ve scoured all of the websites, we’ve got it all charted out, we’ve got files on the houses we like. The next step is going to see them in person.
The problem therein is that before we get a buyer’s agent to show us these homes, we’ve decided that we should get pre-approved for a home loan. It’s a big step. A big honkin’ huge step. It’s easy to eye-fondle house porn in the privacy of my own home, but to take a step and see a professional dude and say, “Hey, we want to make a big honkin’ huge purchase, can we borrow a couple hundred G’s from you?” There’s so much finality in that; I feel like once we take this step, there’s no going back. We must commit.  
It’s not like we have anything to worry about. We’ve got very clean credit, and our debt to income ratio falls within guidelines. The only thing is that we have a small-ish down payment (between 5-10%), which I hear is a big no-no nowadays. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure we qualify for a USDA guaranteed loan, which has a slew of perks, including being able to finance 100% of the purchase price if we wanted.
We’re going to do drive-by’s tomorrow of the houses on our short list and see what we feel like from there. If all systems are go, we’ve got the name of a recommended mortgage broker, and we’ll climb the giant ladder for the Gargantuan Homebuying Diving Board of Doom.
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