Mortgage Application Checklist

Before applying for a mortgage

  • Get copies of your credit report from several sources and check carefully to see if there is any incorrect information. You can dispute these items.
  • You will want to do some research in the neighborhood, and have the house you select inspected before committing to buying it.
  • Figure out how much of a down payment you can afford.
  • Determine how high of a monthly payment you can comfortably manage. This should be non-negotiable. Do not let the lender talk you into something you can't afford.
  • Choose either a fixed rate or an adjustable rate mortgage.
  • Use a mortgage calculator to determine how long of a term you will need to pay off your mortgage at the monthly payment you can afford.

Choosing a lender

  • Some Realtors like to work with specific lenders to streamline home sales.
  • Some home-buyers prefer to use their local bank or credit union.
  • Some loan companies deal only in real estate and have special financing plans.
  • In some cases, you'll find an owner willing to carry the note.

Documentation

  • Expect to be asked for 2 month's worth of pay stubs, and possibly your last 2 tax returns (the latter especially if you are self employed).
  • Most lenders want proof that you have maintained a residence and paid bills in a regular fashion for at least 2 years.
  • The lender will pull your credit report, so you should have already pulled your own copy and disputed incorrect items.
  • This is the most common kind of debt, and is a good indicator of your debt-to-income ratio.
  • 2 months is generally sufficient.
  • This includes government pensions, retirement or Social Security income as well as income from rental properties or investments
  • Your current house mortgage if you have one, plus any auto loans or personal signature loans must be included.
  • If you've recently divorced, your divorce decree may relive you of some joint debt. Also show proof of child support or alimony payments.
  • List all of your current and projected expenses.

Applying for your mortgage

  • Get several different quotes for your mortgage and compare. It never hurts to have some competition for your business.
  • If you have to, ask for a day to look over the papers with your attorney.
  • Don't let yourself be bullied into a down payment or monthly mortgage payment you can't afford.
  • If you feel the interest rate is unfair, ask why it is so high and try to have it decreased.
  • Request that extra fees be waived. Many fees are tacked on at closing under the guise of 'paperwork fees' or 'copying fees'. Many lenders will waive these if asked.
  • If at all possible, the other party or the Realtor should pay closing costs.

Applying for a mortgage may be one of the biggest events in your life. Getting the right deal on financing on your home is vital, and there are plenty of place to run afoul of the system. Educating yourself as to what the different types of mortgages are can help you decide which kind is right for you, and then you can begin to gather the documents you will need to successfully apply for your home mortgage. This checklist can help prepare you.

Tips

There are two basic types of mortgage plans: conventional loans, and government loans. Each of these categories can include fixed rate loans or adjustable rate loans. Government loans encompass FHA, VA and RHS loans, and usually are set at a fixed rate and have strict rules and regulations concerning lending. Conventional loans may be conforming (meaning their terms and conditions meet standards such as those used by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), or non-conforming, meaning the lender has more discretion as to how the loan is set up  In many areas, housing assistance is provided at state, county or city level. In addition, loan assistance may be provided in the form of a tax credit that reimburses a portion of your interest payment, or a grant to help make up a down payment. Most mortgage terms are set between 15 and 30 years. Longer term fixed rate mortgages have lower monthly payments, while shorter terms mean higher payments but a significant decrease in the total amount of interest paid. Adjustable rate mortgages will have a varying monthly payment depending on the current interest rate.  Interest rates may depend on a variety of factors including your credit, your income, the size of your down payment, and the state of the current real estate market. Likewise, the term of your loan and its conditions can vary depending on how much of a risk your lender believes you to be.  It is best to have all your 'ducks in a row' before walking into the bank or loan office and requesting approval for a mortgage.