I am currently in the process of getting pre-approved and checking what my options are. I was told by one of the lenders that they will only perform soft inquiries on my credit score. However that so called "soft" inquiry resulted in a 20 point drop in my score.
I am hesitant to ask another lender because they will also do the same check and that might results in another drop.
Try FHA: the friendliest mortgage program towards first time home buyers. The Minimum down payment required is 3.5% for anyone with a credit score of 580 or above. And if your CS is 500-579, making a 10% down payment gets you the loan.
You can check with your loan officer to make sure but the way I understand it is if the credit inquiries are for the same thing, within 30 days, the reporting agencies lump them together as one credit pull. So 3 banks could pull your credit but there is no cumulative effect on your credit.
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