Facing the Lenders: How to Get Approved for a Mortgage
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or have bought and sold several homes, proving to a lender that you are financially prepared to take on a new mortgage payment can be complex. Doing your research and being prepared for their offers will help ease the stress.
Begin by gathering all your information. You need to know your monthly income, the sum of all your monthly debts (student loans, credit card payments, car payments, etc.), your credit score, how much cash you can put toward a down payment, and how much house you can afford. There are free online calculators to help you find any one of these totals. MortgageCalculator.org is a good place to start.
Calculate your income and debt before meeting with a lender to get a grasp on what you can reasonably afford. For the increasing number of millennial buyers, personal finance expert and founding editor of MoneyUnder30.com, David Weliver suggests buyers reserve 25 percent of their gross income for a total housing payment. CNNMoney.com offers this rule of thumb: aim for a home that costs about 2 1/2 times your gross annual salary.
Decide how much you can afford for a down payment. Expect any lender to require at least a 10 percent down payment, unless you plan on getting a special program loan such as an FHA loan. A minimum of 20 percent down is typically required to avoid paying mortgage insurance. Having your desired down payment in mind helps you when you start house-hunting, and is a great launching point for a conversation with your lender.
Have your paperwork ready to hand over. Expect to provide enough pay stubs to cover 30 days of employment. If you’re paid weekly, for example, you’ll need the last four. If you are self-employed or have various employers, they may ask to see previous tax returns.
Remember that you can get prequalified by a lender any time just to see where you stand financially. Getting prequalified is nonbinding and informal, but it will give you an idea of the types of homes you will be in the market for when you start your search.
Be sure to shop around for the best rates before making your decision. This is a major financial commitment, and you should be confident you’re working with people who want the best for you.
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