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If you’re ready to buy a home, you probably have done a lot of research. One thing is sure: You know you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. It’s perhaps the most critical step in the process of buying a home for a variety of reasons. There’s down payments and debt-to-income ratios, and other financial issues to worry about. You need to know what type of mortgage you should get. To help you understand what kind of mortgage you need, you should get pre-approved.
Understand The Pre-Approval Process
There are many misconceptions about pre-approvals. First, buyers need to understand that there is a difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval. A pre-qualification merely scrapes the surface of your financial state, while a pre-approval goes through everything a mortgage company will need to grant you a loan. You may be pre-qualified for a much higher amount than you can actually afford, for example.
A pre-approval is a lender’s written commitment to a borrower. The approval states that the lender is willing to lend a certain amount of money for a home. The lender obtains the following from the buyer:
- Employment history
- Credit report
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
The time and effort that it takes to get a pre-approval is worth it because everything will be ready for the lender to grant the mortgage once an offer is made on a home. It also gives the buyer an upper hand in finding the home of their dreams. Many sellers require a pre-approval with an offer.
When To Get A Pre Approval
As soon as you know you’re serious about buying a home and are ready to start the house hunt, you should get pre-approved. Pre-approvals do expire after a certain amount of time, but lenders can renew them with proper notice.
The Importance Of The Pre-Approval
Many buyers feel that they can skip the pre-approval process altogether. It has many benefits. Besides giving you a better look at your finances and how much house you can afford, pre-approvals can:
- Give you the insight to correct your credit score and help you correct credit problems
- Help to avoid disappointment when you find a home you love
- Allow first-time buyers to see all of the costs involved in buying a home
A pre-approval is a handy thing to have, and it’s not just because the experts say it’s essential. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help you to be more on top of your finances going into one of the most significant purchases you'll ever make in your life.
Whether you’re a new homeowner or have owned your home for a few years, there’s always much to learn when it comes to understanding mortgages. Depending on your financial status and your long-term plans, it may make sense to either make larger payments or to refinance your home loan.
Today, we’ll tackle some of those difficult “what if?” questions, helping you decide when to refinance, when to keep your payments stable, and when you might want to increase your monthly mortgage payments.
What are the benefits of refinancing?
We’ve all heard about the benefits of refinancing when under financial stress. For things like student loans and credit card debt, refinancing is often a debtor’s only choice. However, with home loans, the allure of refinancing may not always be a good fit for you.
If your plan is to refinance to get lower mortgage payments each month, you should first question if it will be worth it on the long run, which might amount to you paying more in interest. To avoid paying more in interest, refinance after you’ve accomplished important financial milestones, such as increasing your credit score which makes you a lower risk client to banks.
When does it make sense to pay more?
The benefits of paying off your mortgage in a shorter period of time are obvious. It means less time making payments, and less money spent on interest.
However, depending on your mortgage, you might be better off investing your savings in something that will give you a larger return. Investments in a retirement fund, for example, are likely to pay off to a larger degree in the long term. To do the math, simply calculate the savings you would earn on by cutting your mortgage interest and weigh that against projected gains in retirement funds.
None of us can predict the future. Stocks rise and fall, people get laid off from their job due to fluctuations in the economy, and so on. These factors make it difficult to determine whether you should invest. So we encourage you to do your homework when it comes to investments so that you have the best chance of succeeding.
Your relationship with your lender will likely be a long one, so you want to make sure it’s one you’re comfortable with and that they are giving you reasonable rates. Now that you’re secure and living in your you have time to shop around for the best rates.
Be sure to ask lenders for good faith estimates and compare applicable fees. Ask friends and neighbors about their experience with lenders and read online reviews to get a better idea of what type of customer experience can expect.
Buy a house and you probably just made the largest purchase of your life, a decision that will impact you daily. Buy the right house and you can finally start to feel rooted, as if you found the place where you feel balanced and centered. You can make this house your own, hanging original art pieces and pictures on the walls and filling the space with furniture and knick knacks that showcase your remarkable personality, your amazing style.
Stop guessing how much house you can afford
If you let yourself develop your creative muscle, there’s a strong likelihood that you created those original art pieces yourself. Clearly, buying a house is about more than the base price of the house. It’s about stepping into new experiences. Allow those experiences to be rewarding, certainly financially stress free. But, that won’t happen like magic. It takes thought, action and understanding. You can do it.
You must know everything that you’ll be responsible to pay for before you buy a house. It could keep you out of foreclosure should you or your spouse get laid off. It could keep you from taking on debt that will put your finances in a gripping headlock. Specific fees that you may incur when you buy a house vary, depending on the lender. However, general fees and costs you can expect to be responsible for include:
- Base price of the house (It’s easy to think that the base mortgage is all you’ll have to repay when you buy a house. But, although it’s the largest chunk of what goes into a mortgage, the base price or principal of a house is only one piece of the costs.)
- Interest or adjustable rate mortgage (Adjustable interest rates may start lower, but they can shift upwards and put your mortgage out of reach. Research lenders. Make sure you’re not working with a predatory lender.)
- Property taxes
- Down payment (The bigger the down payment you can put on your new house, the better. It can lower your monthly mortgage payments significantly.)
- Closing costs (Try to negotiate a deal that splits closing costs with sellers. You might even get a deal where house sellers pay all of the closing costs.)
- Homeowner’s association fees
- Mortgage insurance
- Homeowners insurance (This is separate from the mortgage insurance. Homeowners insurance covers the costs of damages the house may incur during natural and human-made disasters. This insurance is similar to car insurance.)
- House inspection fees
Eliminating mortgage fee surprises helps you enjoy your home
There is more than one way to become a homeowner. Options include rent-to-own, a newly built house and buying an old house that you restore. Housing communities also vary, giving you the chance to move into communal housing neighborhoods, single family homes, tiny houses, mobile homes and elegant Victorian houses. You could also make the land more a priority than your living space, especially if you aim to start a farm or another outdoor business.
Go with the housing option that best matches your personal needs. You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time in your new home. But, don’t just fall in love with your house. Set yourself up for financial success. Be aware of all costs that go into your mortgage before you buy a house. Also, understand additional costs that you are responsible for paying a lender that aren’t built into your monthly mortgage payments. Shop for and buy a house with your eyes wide open.
When you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you may be excited to find out that you can afford a lot more house than you thought you could. Don’t be so fast, this is just what you can get a loan for. The bank doesn’t know a lot of factors about your finances. While you most likely had to provide a ton of income verification statements and information in order to get this ballpark figure, relying solely on the pre-approval number can put you in a bind when it comes to your finances. Your lender doesn’t know certain things like how much you spend on groceries or how much your cell phone bill is each month.
What Lenders Consider
Lenders look at the health of your credit history, how much income you have and how much debt you have. These are the big factors that tell your lender about how much house you can afford. Yet, your home lender is not your financial advisor and can’t help you with household expenses and the like. When thinking about what price range of home you really can afford, consider these factors beyond the bank:
Your Monthly Budget
Your spending habits will ultimately affect your ability to pay the monthly mortgage bill. If you’re spending all of your disposable income, then you may not be able to afford much at all beyond what you’re already paying for rent. You don’t want to stretch your finances so thin that you won’t be able to afford food!
Owning A Home Requires Additional Costs
Lenders do factor into their number the cost of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, but don’t consider other things like utility bills, trash pickup and home repairs. All this can certainly add up when you’re a homeowner!
Your Savings Is Nonexistent
If you’re unable to save any money at all if you’re a homeowner, then you’ll be in trouble. You need money stashed away in case of unemployment or an emergency. You also may be planning for things like retirement and future costs like children’s education. For the initial purchase of a home, you’ll need upfront payments available for the down payment and closing costs. However, you’ll need some more savings beyond that for everything that life brings your way!
You Have Big Plans
Are you thinking of quitting your job and heading out to start your own business? Now may not be the best time to buy a new house. These changes could have a huge impact on your finances and leave you unable to pay your mortgage. Your lender won’t be asking about these plans, so you’ll need to know what the future holds (for the most part ) in order to keep your own finances secure.
The bottom line is that anything that could leave you financially stressed is not a good idea. Considering that buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, you want to be sure that you keep your finances in check during the purchase process.
Finding a mortgage lender should be easy, particularly for homebuyers who want to purchase a high-quality residence without having to worry about spending too much. However, many mortgage lenders are available nationwide, and the sheer volume of lenders can make it difficult to choose the right one.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to accelerate the process of choosing the perfect lender.
1. Know Your Credit Score
Your mortgage interest rate may vary based on your credit score. As such, you should learn your credit score before you begin your search for the right lender. This will enable you to boost your credit score if necessary – something that may help you get a preferred mortgage interest rate.
You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can find out your credit score and map out your search for the ideal mortgage lender accordingly.
2. Meet with Several Mortgage Lenders
There is no shortage of mortgage lenders in cities and towns around the country. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to meet with several credit unions and banks to explore all of your mortgage options.
Each lender can provide details about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, how these mortgages work and other pertinent mortgage information. This information can help you make an informed decision about a mortgage.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions when you meet with a mortgage lender. If you obtain plenty of information from a mortgage lender, you'll be able to understand the pros and cons of various mortgage options and make the best choice possible.
3. Review a Mortgage Closely
A mortgage may enable you to secure your dream residence, but it is important to understand all of the terms and conditions associated with a mortgage before you select a lender.
For example, if you decide to purchase a condo, your mortgage might only cover the costs of your property. Meanwhile, you still may be responsible for condo homeowners' association fees that total hundreds of dollars each month, so you'll need to budget properly.
Of course, you should feel comfortable working with a mortgage lender as well. The ideal mortgage lender should be available to answer your concerns and questions at any time and help you stay on track with your monthly mortgage payments.
If you need extra assistance as you consider the mortgage lenders in your area, you can reach out to a real estate agent for additional support. This housing market professional can provide insights into mortgage interest rates and may even be able to connect you with the top local lenders.
Take the guesswork out of finding the right mortgage lender – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to buy your dream residence.