Before applying for a home loan, you can prepare by checking your credit reports, assembling the proper documentation and comparing the different types of mortgages.
- Your lender will check your credit, and you should too
After you fill out an application for a mortgage, your lender will check your credit. Your credit score and the financial information on your credit reports can determine the terms of your loan and, ultimately, whether you’re approved. Because errors could lower your credit score, reviewing your credit reports for accuracy is essential. Check your credit reports for red flags that you can potentially correct before buying a home.
You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. Red flags to look for include an incorrect current balance, a payment wrongly reported as late or one missed entirely and the same debt listed more than once. Also, check for fraudulent information, such as an unrecognized debt reported to collections or an account you didn’t open.
- Get an idea of how much home you can afford
Your income, debts, down payment amount, interest rate, closing costs and credit score all factor into how much mortgage you can afford. Use the Guild Mortgage affordability calculator to get an estimate of the home purchase price and loan amount that you can afford, along with the down payment amount that would be required.
Mortgage rates can change daily, and every borrower’s situation is unique. Consult with a local loan officer who will assess your credit score and other factors and provide an estimated interest rate to put into the calculator.
In addition, consider how much you’ll need to set aside for common homebuying expenses. You’ll need enough funds to cover closing costs, including property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, moving expenses and potentially discount points.
- Understand there’s no standard down payment amount
Your minimum down payment amount will vary depending on your home’s appraisal price, loan type and credit history. You may have heard that it’s a requirement to save 20% before buying. However, there’s no standard down payment amount. Your loan officer can help you choose the best home loan and down payment amount for your financial situation, including an affordable loan program with low or no down payment options.
- Learn more about down payment assistance (DPA) programs
Down payment assistance programs open the door to affordable homeownership. They offer relief from the costs of purchasing a home for buyers who can afford monthly mortgage payments but don’t have enough cash saved for a down payment. Eligibility is largely based on income, with assistance such as a loan or grant that’s sometimes forgiven after spending a certain amount of time in the home as a primary residence.
- Research and compare types of mortgages
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, or an existing homeowner looking to upsize or downsize your living situation, there are many different types of home loans for a wide array of borrower situations. For example, there are VA loans for military families, energy-efficient mortgage programs if you’re looking to save and go green and home renovation loans for fixer-uppers, to name just a few.
Luckily, loan officers have an in-depth knowledge of loan programs and their requirements and can pair you with the one that best fits your life. It’s never too early to reach out to a loan officer to discuss your homeownership goals.
- Review this mortgage application documents checklist
Before approval, your lender must determine if you can repay the loan. This process is done by verifying your income, assets, debts, credit, insurance coverage and home value. While the specific documents may vary depending on your loan, you’ll need the following information.
Note, at Guild Mortgage, we offer the ability to fast track your mortgage application, which automatically pulls some of this information for you after you give consent.
- ✔ Proof of employment and income
Income verification is one way to demonstrate your ability to repay a loan. You’ll need to show how much you earn and have steady employment when you refinance. Proof of income may include paycheck stubs, W-2s, 1099s, a proof of income letter from your employer if you recently changed jobs and copies of social security, pension, disability and retirement award letters.
- ✔ Asset statements
Because they’re an up-to-date record of your financial transactions, you may need to show recent bank, stock, investment and retirement account statements as part of your mortgage application. Asset statements also show you can cover out-of-pocket homebuying expenses, like closing costs.
- ✔ Debt obligations
Your debt-to-income ratio plays a significant role in whether you’ll be approved for a loan because it reflects your ability to manage monthly payments. You’ll need to provide monthly statements for debt obligations such as student and auto loans and credit cards.
- ✔ Tax returns
Tax returns are another way of verifying your sources and types of income. If you’re self-employed or receive commission or rental income, be prepared to provide your two most recent personal income tax returns. If you own a business, you may also need to provide your two most recent business tax returns and profit and loss statements.
- ✔ Letter of explanation
The financial information on your credit reports shows how you manage your credit and your past loans. If you have issues on your credit reports, such as late payments, collection accounts or previous bankruptcy, you’ll want to include a letter of explanation with your mortgage loan documents and bankruptcy discharge paperwork (if applicable). You may also need to provide a letter explaining a gap in employment or a recent large deposit.
- ✔ Alimony or child support documents
When you collect alimony and child support, it may be considered income. And if you’re paying alimony or child support, it may count as debt. If you’re legally separated or divorced, be prepared to supply additional documentation, such as a divorce decree or court order.
- Get pre-approved
Pre-approval helps you find a price range for your home search and gives direction on how much you should save for a down payment. In addition, because the pre-approval process includes submitting a mortgage application and securing financing, it can accelerate the closing process.
While a pre-approval letter doesn’t guarantee a home loan, it can make your offer stand out and make negotiations easier because it shows a seller that you’re a serious buyer. Many sellers require a pre-approval letter with your bid.
During this step, your loan officer will provide a timeline and let you know what you need to provide. At this time, your loan officer will also explain which types of mortgage loans you qualify for to help determine which loan is the best option for your situation.
To start the process and discuss your options with a loan officer in your local area, provide your contact information, and we’ll be in touch shortly.