The home buying process can seem a daunting one for the uninitiated and veteran home buyer alike, but it doesn’t have to be. Buying your first home is a wonderful experience and, with the right people on your team and some basic information, you can navigate your real estate transaction like a pro.
One of the biggest hurdles new home buyers face is the thought of getting a mortgage. What do I need to apply for a mortgage? Who should I go to to get one? What questions should I ask? We checked in with Jonathan Davis and Harold Crow of Envoy Mortgage to get some hard and fast answers to these questions and more.
Get to Know Your Financial Footprint
First things first, when contemplating buying your own home, you should be aware of your financial footprint. Check your credit score and analyze what is on your report. Your mortgage rate will be partially determined by your score, so it’s important to know where you stand ahead of time. Make a note of anything on your report that could pose a question or risk to a potential loan, and make a note of it to discuss with your mortgage lender. They will be able to help walk you through it. You should also determine what you feel comfortable spending on a monthly basis. Knowing this number ahead of time will help you set reasonable expectations for the price point of your new place so you don’t end up “house poor” or overextended.
Determining Downpayment and Closing Costs
The next step is to look at how much you’ve saved up for a down payment and closing costs. This will help determine what mortgage program is right for you, as well as the price range of your first home. There are plenty of programs available to first time home buyers to help you get started on the right track. There are conventional loan programs that require as low as a 3% down payment, there is a government loan program, known as FHA, that requires a 3.5% down payment, and there are even programs available to assist with the down payment. Discuss your options with your mortgage lender as they will be able to walk you through each program, their income limitations and credit score requirements.
There are a few documents you will need to gather in order to apply for a mortgage. Having these documents together and organized will make you feel more confident and prepared when walking in to your initial appointment with a mortgage lender. These documents will help determine the source of closing costs and your monthly income. The documents required will vary from file to file, but having access to all potentially necessary pieces will ensure an accurate and prompt qualification from your mortgage lender.
You should gather:
•Account information for any funds you plan on using outside of a standard banking institution
•2 forms of ID
Finding a Mortgage Lender
Now it’s time to choose a mortgage lender, but what do you look for? Communication between you and your mortgage lender is important. Find a mortgage lender that is available to you and never be afraid to ask questions. “Buying your first home can be new and can be stressful.” explained Davis, “You do not want to be left in the dark and need a mortgage lender that’s available to walk you through the process, every step of the way. Do not be afraid to look up customer reviews and call other lenders. It is important that you are confident with you mortgage lender and they are available to answer all your questions.” Make sure that your mortgage lender has discussed and addressed all potential loan programs you qualify for before moving forward with any one program. You need to be confident that you have selected the best loan available to you. You should also be aware of fees, charges and interest rates. All mortgage lenders do not have the same fees and interest rates, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs. Also look out for any additional fees, such as an Origination Fee or Discount Point. These may be charged to a home buyer but are not always necessary. Again, always ask questions. Your mortgage lender should be able to explain each fee and why it is needed. If you don’t like what you are hearing, or don’t feel comfortable with your mortgage lender, leave and find one that is willing to talk to you and makes you feel at ease, but don’t wait! It’s important to find the right mortgage lender before you try to buy a home.
As a final helpful tip, Davis and Crow offered 6 things you should NOT do when applying for a mortgage. As a rule of thumb, any financial or life move that affects your credit score will affect your potential mortgage. It is important that, once the mortgage has been applied for, your credit score remains the same.
•To avoid losing the home of your dreams, when applying for a home loan:
•Do not buy or lease an auto
•Do not move assets from one bank account to another
•Do not change jobs
•Do not buy new furniture or major appliances for your “new home”
•Do not run a credit report on yourself (You can beforehand, but not once the process is started)
•Do not attempt to consolidate bills before speaking with your lender.
By avoiding these 6 things, you can ensure the smoothest possible home buying process. Once you have signed on your mortgage and received the keys to your new home, you can make all the life changes and purchases you want. Just don’t do it during the application process.
If you prepare yourself ahead of time, know the facts of what is available to you and choose the correct mortgage lender, you can have a successful first time home buying experience.
For additional info for first-time homebuyers, check out our handy First Time Homebuyers Guide.
Jonathan Davis is a Loan Originator (NMLS#1544910) with Envoy Mortgage. www.JonathanLoan.com
Harold Crow is a Loan Originator (NMLS#1632082) with Envoy Mortgage. www.TheCrowLoan.com