The first step to getting a loan is to determine how much money you can borrow. In the case of buying a home this should happen before you begin looking at listings, so you don’t fall in love with something too far out of your range. By finding out what your budget is first you can avoid a bit of home shopping heartbreak.
We’ll figure out how much you can afford by asking you a few simple questions and using that information to calculate your buying power, based on standard lender guidelines.
If you choose, you can also get pre-approved for a loan—which requires verification of your income, credit, assets, and liabilities. There are many benefits to obtaining pre-approval before house hunting including:
- Ensuring that the properties you look for are within your range.
- Being in a better position when negotiating with the seller (seller knows your loan is already approved.)
- Closing your loan more quickly.
What Other Variables Affect Your Mortgage Rate?
LTV and Debt-to-Income Ratios
LTV or Loan-To-Value ratio is the maximum amount of exposure that a lender is willing to accept in financing your purchase. If you have great credit many lenders are willing to lend a high percentage value, even up to 100%, of your purchase. For borrowers with lower credit, a lender may be more cautious and less willing to extend as much credit.
Another consideration in deciding what the maximum amount of loan is available for a particular borrower is the ratio of monthly debt payments (such as auto and personal loans) to income. The general rule of thumb states that your monthly mortgage payments should not exceed 1/3 of your gross monthly income. Therefore, borrowers with a high debt-to-income ratio would need to pay a higher down payment in order to qualify for a lower LTV ratio loan.
FICO™ Credit Score
FICO™ Credit Scores are widely used by almost all types of lenders in their credit decision. It is a quantified measure of credit worthiness of an individual, which is derived from mathematical models developed by Fair Isaac and Company in San Rafael, California. FICO™ scores reflect credit risk of the individual in comparison with that of general population. It is based on a number of factors including past payment history, total amount of borrowing, length of credit history, search for new credit, and type of credit established. You do need to be careful when you begin shopping around for a new credit card or loan because a lender will run your credit report. Unfortunately, every time it is run it adversely affects your credit score. It is, therefore, advisable that you authorize the lender/broker to run your credit report only after you have chosen to apply for a loan through them.
Self-employed individuals often find that there are greater hurdles to borrowing for them than a traditionally employed person. For many conventional lenders the problem with lending to the self-employed person is documenting an applicant’s income. Applicants with jobs can provide lenders with pay stubs, and lenders can verify the information through their employer. In the absence of such verifiable employment records, lenders rely on income tax returns, which they typically require for 2 years.
Source of Down Payment
Lenders expect borrowers to come up with sufficient cash for the down payment and other fees payable by the borrower at the time of funding the loan. Generally, down payment requirements are made with funds the borrowers have saved. If a borrower does not have the required down payment they may receive “gift funds” from an acceptable donor with a signed letter stating that the gifted funds do not have to be paid back.
Home loans come in many shapes and sizes. Deciding which loan makes the most sense for your financial situation and goals means understanding the benefits of each. Whether you are buying a home or refinancing, there are 2 basic types of home loans. Each has different reasons you’d choose them.
1) Fixed Rate Mortgage
Fixed rate mortgages usually have terms lasting 15 or 30 years. Throughout those years the interest rate and monthly payments remain the same. You would select this type of loan when you:
- Plan to live in home more than 7 years
- Like the stability of a fixed principal/interest payment
- Don’t want to run the risk of future monthly payment increases
Think your income and spending will stay the same
2) Adjustable Rate Mortgage
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (often called ARMs) typically last for 15 or 30 years, just like fixed rate mortgages. But during those years the interest rate on the loan may go up or down. Monthly payments increase or decrease. You would select this type of loan when you:
- Plan to stay in your home less than 5 years
- Don’t mind having your monthly payment periodically change (up or down)
- Are comfortable with the risk of possible payment increases in future
- Think your income will probably increase in the future
By carefully considering the above factors and seeking our professional advice you should be able to select the one loan that matches your present condition as well as your future financial goals.
Although lenders conform to standards set by government agencies, loan approval guidelines vary depending on the terms of each loan. In general, approval is based on two factors: your ability and willingness to repay the loan, and the value of the property.
Once your loan application has been received we will start the loan approval process immediately. Your loan processor will verify all of the information you have given. If any discrepancies are found, either the processor or your loan officer will troubleshoot it to straighten them out. This information includes:
Is your income sufficient to cover monthly payments? Industry guidelines are used to evaluate your income and your debts.
What is your ability to repay debts when due? Your credit report is reviewed to determine the type and terms of previous loans. Any lapses or delays in payment are considered and must be explained.
Do you have the funds necessary to make the down payment and pay closing costs?
Is there sufficient value in the property? The property is appraised to determine market value. Location and zoning play a part in the evaluation.
In some cases additional documentation might be required before making a final determination regarding your loan approval.
In order to improve your chances of getting a loan approval:
- Fill out your loan application completely. You may use our online forms to expedite the process.
- Respond promptly to any requests for additional documentation, especially if your rate is locked or if your loan is to close by a certain date.
- Do not move money into or from your bank accounts without a paper trail. If you are receiving money from friends, family, or other relatives, please prepare a gift letter and contact us.
- Do not make any major purchases until your loan is closed. Purchases cause your debts to increase and might have an adverse affect on your current application.
- Do not go out of town around your loan closing date. If you plan to be out of town, you may want to sign a Power of Attorney.
After your loan is approved, you are ready to sign the final loan documents. You must review the documents prior to signing and make sure that the interest rate and loan terms are what you were promised. Also, verify that the name and address on the loan documents are accurate. The signing normally takes place in front of a notary public.
There are also several fees associated with obtaining a mortgage and transferring property ownership, which you will be expected to pay at closing. Bring a cashier’s check for the down payment and closing costs, if required. Personal checks are normally not accepted. You also will need to show your homeowner’s insurance policy and any other requirements, such as flood insurance, plus proof of payment.
Your loan will normally close shortly after you have signed the loan documents. On owner occupied refinance loan transactions federal law requires that you have 3 days to review the documents before your loan transaction can close.