If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.
Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.
So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.
What is the first step to getting a mortgage?
This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.
However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.
To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.
What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?
If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.
Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.
What are closing costs?
“Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance, origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.
That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.
What will my interest rate be?
The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.
You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.
When dealing with mortgages, people erroneously believe that the smaller the mortgage taken out, the better for them. This article will clarify the reasons why even as daunting as it sounds, the larger and more prolonged the loan, the better.
People who apply for mortgages are those who want to own a house but don't have sufficient cash to buy one or those who need a large sum of money from a lender and use their house as collateral. These borrowers have an extended period to pay it back, and the length of time varies up to 30 years depending on the agreement between the two parties and the size of mortgage money-wise.
If the mortgage borrower is unable to pay after the stipulated time, the property is foreclosed and most probably sold so that the lender, which is usually the bank, is paid back for the loan. For this fear of not being able to pay back, borrowers tend to get smaller mortgages, but below are reasons why getting bigger mortgages may be better in the long run;
1. It gets easier
Over time, payment gets more manageable because the property value appreciates, and the borrower's income rises steadily while monthly mortgage payment remains the same especially if choosing a fixed-rate loan. Thus, as time goes on, the money to be paid gets less daunting and less significant in comparison to the borrower's inevitable financial growth over the years. In the beginning, it may be a struggle to make the payments. But, over time it gets easier.
2. Mortgage accords you the ability to invest more and quicker
Many people prefer long mortgages because that means that the monthly payment will be smaller and spread out over a longer time as opposed to short-term loans. It may be better to invest a more significant amount now to reap more productive rewards in the future as one can use the proceeds from the investment to pay up. This seemingly huge risk only encourages more and faster investments too. In the long run, bigger mortgages result in bigger monthly payments, but it may also result in greater wealth.
3. Mortgage: liquidity and flexibility
It is best not to listen to people who say that all that matters in mortgage loans is paying it off. Or, that it is a risky thing to do. Applying for a small mortgage loan with this mentality will not grant you flexibility. People who get small mortgage loans do not put into consideration all the other necessities toward which the money should go. Hence, one loses liquidity and control over access to one's money. Even though it would most likely appreciate in the long term, you are going to be handicapped in the short-term.
No matter what you decide, it is essential to understand that you must do what works the best for you both long term and short. Discuss with your personal financial consultant and real estate agent.
Obtaining a mortgage can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of analyzing various mortgage options and choosing one that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers secure the ideal mortgage.
1. Assess All of the Mortgage Options at Your Disposal
Both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available, and homebuyers who understand the pros and cons of these mortgage options may be better equipped than others to make the right mortgage decision.
A fixed-rate mortgage ensures a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. For example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage enables a homebuyer to budget for monthly home payments over the course of three decades. And in many instances, a homebuyer may be able to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage early without penalty.
On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage may start out with a lower monthly payment that escalates over the course of a few years. An adjustable-rate mortgage, for instance, may allow a homebuyer to acquire a home that surpasses his or her initial budget thanks to a lower initial monthly payment. However, after the first few years, the monthly mortgage payment may increase, and a homebuyer will need to plan accordingly.
Assess your mortgage options closely – you'll be glad you did. By doing so, you can boost your chances of selecting a mortgage that works well based on your current and future financial needs.
2. Evaluate Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may impact his or her ability to get the right mortgage. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can analyze his or her credit score without delay.
You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, with your credit report in hand, you can better understand how potential lenders may view your mortgage application.
Of course, if you receive a copy of your credit report and find glaring errors, be sure to let the credit bureau know immediately. This will enable you to get any mistakes corrected and ensure these problems won't slow you down as you pursue your dream residence.
3. Consult with Potential Lenders
Although getting a mortgage may seem like an uphill climb at first, consulting with potential lenders may prove to be exceedingly valuable, especially for a first-time homebuyer.
Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to educate you about assorted mortgage options. These lenders can teach you about the ins and outs of various mortgage options at your convenience.
Lastly, if you need extra help in your search for the perfect mortgage, real estate agents may be able to offer assistance. These housing market professionals can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about lenders in your area so you can move one step closer to securing your ideal mortgage.
Ready to get a mortgage for the first time? Use these tips, and you can accelerate the process of obtaining a mortgage that suits you perfectly.
Applying for a mortgage is a big step towards homeownership and financial independence. If it’s your first time buying a home, you might be curious (and a little intimidated) about all of the things that go into your mortgage application.
When reviewing your application, mortgage lenders are trying to determine how risky it is to lend you money. If all goes well, and they determine that lending to you would be a worthy investment, you’ll get approved for a mortgage.
There are three main things that lenders will use when weighing your application (however, there are other factors as well).
First, they’ll run a detailed credit report. This will tell them how much other debt you have, what kind of accounts you have open, how long you’ve had this debt, and how responsible you are when it comes to making your monthly payments in time.
Second, they’ll consider how much money you’ll be using toward a down payment. A larger down payment alleviates some of the risk associated with lending to you. Therefore, people with little or no down payment saved can have a difficult time getting approved for a mortgage. And, if they do get approved, they’ll have to pay monthly private mortgage insurance on top of their regular mortgage payments.
Finally, the third main consideration will be your current income. Lenders will look at your previous two years of income (including tax returns) and will seek out current income verification from your employer.
The latter is a key part of getting approved, as lenders will want to ensure that you are in a stable financial situation and will be able to immediately start making mortgage payments.
Today’s post will center around income verification and how mortgage lenders will use your income to determine your borrowing eligibility.
How Do I Verify My Employment?
If you’re employed with a company, most lenders will reach out to your employer directly to verify your employment. You’ll be asked to sign a form that authorizes your employer to share these details with the lender, and then your part of the job is done and you can move on to the next step of your application.
Things get trickier when you’re a freelancer, are self-employed, or work with several clients as a contract worker. In these situations, lenders will typically require you to file a Form 4506-T with the IRS. This form allows your lender to obtain your tax returns directly from the IRS.
Can I submit additional information to verify my income?
There are some situations where providing additional income information can bolster your case in terms of getting approved for a mortgage.
If you own a business, your lender of choice may ask for a profit and loss statement. If you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, your clients who have paid you at least $600 or services or $10 in royalties will be required to send you a Form 1099-MISC.
If you have mixed income, such as a full-time job with freelance work on the side, showing these 1099-MISC forms can help increase your income on paper so that lenders will approve you or a higher mortgage amount or lower interest rate.
What do buying a house, opening a credit card, and getting approved for an auto loan have in common? They all depend on your credit score.
Building credit is a multifaceted undertaking. In a way, this is a good thing--you wouldn’t want lenders to base their opinions solely on one aspect of your financial history. The downside is that understanding just what makes up your credit score can be difficult.
To complicate matters further, there isn’t one standard method for scoring your credit, and different credit bureaus each use their own criteria.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the factors the major credit bureaus use to calculate your credit, and give you some ways you can boost your credit.
But first, let’s talk about some of the implications of having a good credit score.
Why credit matters
Typical credit scores range anywhere from 250 to 850. The three main reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). Most lenders use a combination of those scores that is reported by FICO.
Most credit reports will rank your category from “bad” to “excellent.” Here’s an example of what a credit ranking might look like:
Good: 700 - 749
Fair: 650 - 659
Poor: 550 - 649
U.S. legislation makes it possible for Americans to receive a free report of their credit score and to challenge and correct the score if it contains inaccuracies.
If you’re thinking about buying a house, opening a new line of credit, or taking out a loan of some kind, then the provider will likely run your credit score. Those providers are going to want to see a return on their investment, so they’ll charge interest.
If you have a high credit score, it tells the lenders that you are a low-risk investment, and therefore they can offer you a lower interest rate, saving you money in the long run.
Components of a credit score
There are five main factors that credit bureaus take into consideration when formulating your credit score. Not all of the factors are treated equally. Your ability to pay your bills on time, for example, is considered to be more important than the types of bills you have. Here’s a breakdown of the five components that make up a credit score:
35% - Bill and loan payments
30% - Current total amount of debt
15% - Amount of time you’ve had credit (since you took out your first loan or opened your first credit card)
10% - Types of credit (cards, loans, etc.)
10 % - New credit inquiries
Quick tips for building credit
It takes time to build credit and improve your score. So, if you’re hoping to buy a home within the next few years, now is the time to start working on your credit. Here are some best practices for building credit:
Set up autopay for your bills to avoid late payments. Even if the service doesn’t offer autopay, you can likely set up recurring payments through your bank.
Settle outstanding debt. Avoiding debt that you can’t pay off will only hurt you more in the long run. Call your creditor and see if they offer debt relief programs. More likely than not they’d rather work with you to ensure they receive some repayment rather than none at all.
Start budgeting the right way. New budgeting software like Mint and “You Need a Budget” are easy to use and link up with your accounts. They’ll help you monitor your spending and start paying off debt.
Don’t open new lines of credit close to when you want to take out a loan. New credit inquiries can briefly lower your credit, especially if you make more than one. Viewing your free credit reports doesn’t count as an inquiry, so feel free to do that as often as needed to check your progress.
Get credit for bills you’re already paying. You can report your monthly rent payments, switch bills into your name that you contribute to, or take out a credit builder loan. All three will help you build rent without changing your spending habits.