[GA] Buying a new house, trying to compete lenders…

This is my second home purchase and I'm trying to do everything in the best way possible because the loan is rather large. We're buying a house at $665000 with $200000 down (wife sold a town home before moving in with me). Everything I've found indicates that we will easily qualify for best case scenarios (>780 credit scores, <30% DTI, $100k+ reserves). Because of this, I'm trying to shop lenders, and it SEEMS like they are aware that I'm doing so and are putting their best foot forward.

Which leads to my questions:

What should I be looking out for that might be misleading in initial conversations or estimates?

When is the drop dead point where I HAVE to choose one of the lenders? I haven't signed any "intent to proceed" or anything yet, but I have completed an "official application".

Why do lenders' processes seem so different if it's such a regulated process? Pretty sure it's confusing just to be confusing…

More real estate tips at Program Realty Wix site

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