How to Apply for Your First Home Loan

While buying a home is a huge decision that should entail a lot of planning and preparation, applying for a mortgage can be surprisingly easy. Just like with other lenders and creditors, a mortgage lender will want to know that letting you borrow money will be a safe investment. Applying for a mortgage is all about ensuring just that.

In today’s post, we’re going to breakdown the home loan application process to help you have the best chances at a smooth and successful mortgage approval. We’ll also define some of the common terms used in mortgages that might leave you scratching your head so you have a better idea of what your options are.

Prequalification and Preapproval

Getting prequalified and preapproved for a mortgaged can both be helpful steps toward securing your home loan. The two terms mean two entirely different things, however.

In order to be prequalified for a mortgage, you typically need to only fill out a simple form (sometimes directly through a lender’s website). On this form, you won’t need to provide specifics or official documents.

Why is this process so simple? Well, that’s because getting prequalified for a loan doesn’t ensure that you’ll actually receive one. Rather, it is simply the first step toward finding out what type of mortgage and interest rates you could receive.

The next step after prequalification is preapproval. To get preapproved, you’ll have to fill out an official mortgage application. Your lender of choice will request a few pieces of information from you, including tax returns, proof of employment for the last two years, and a list of your debts. The lender will also perform a credit check to determine your loan eligibility.

Credit report

At this phase, lenders will also run your credit report. This is a type of “hard credit inquiry” that details your payment history, the number of accounts you have open, and other factors that help make up your credit score.

To secure the lowest interest rate possible, it helps to have a high credit score. So, in the years and months leading up to your mortgage application, focusing on building credit will pay off.

To increase your credit score, you’ll need to focus on paying your bills on time each month. You should also avoid opening new accounts within a few months of applying for a mortgage because this will count as a new credit inquiry. New credit inquiries–including applying for a mortgage–lower your score temporarily, so it’s best to avoid them when possible.

Additional paperwork required for mortgage applications

Not every mortgage application will be the same. Depending on the type of income you receive, you may need to provide different forms of income verification.

Each person will also have to claim different debts and assets. When buying a home with a spouse or partner, it’s important to consider your debts, assets, and credit scores to determine if it’s better to apply jointly or separately.

Avoid These Mistakes When Buying Your First Home

As a first time home buyer, you may feel like a fish out of water when it comes to the process of getting a home. If you’re ready to buy your first home, there’s some key mistakes that you should avoid. 

You Think That You Don’t Need Help From A Professional

So many homebuyers think that they can save themselves a few dollars by avoiding working with a realtor. This is a big mistake. Realtors are a valuable resource for buyers and will help you throughout the process of purchasing a home. Realtors can help guide buyers step-by-step while providing assistance with things like negotiations and making sure all of the paperwork gets from point A to point B. You’ll also need other professionals involved in this process of home buying including lawyers and loan officers. Having these people on your team protects you and gives you a backing of knowledge that you wouldn’t otherwise have. 

Don’t Skip Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is key before you even start to search for a house. The pre-approval letter is a great resource in helping you land the home of your dreams. If you’re going up against other bids on a home, your bid will be seen as more serious if you have been pre-approved. Getting a pre-approval lets sellers know that you’re serious about the whole process of buying a home and are ready to make the financial commitment. 

Know The Costs Associated With Buying A Home

Just because you have the monthly income to pay a mortgage doesn’t mean you’re financially ready to buy a home. There’s a few things that need to be in place before you can even commit to buying a home. First, you’ll need to make sure your credit score is up to par. Next, you’ll need to have enough saved up for a down payment. Without a down payment of at east 20% of the purchase price of a home, you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). There’s plenty of other costs that you’ll need cash on hand for when it comes to buying a home. This includes home insurance, home inspections, closing costs, property taxes, HOA fees, and maintenance. In other words, there needs to be some wiggle room in your budget for all of the extra costs that go into closing on a home and maintaining a home. 

Don’t Completely Deplete Your Savings

Just because you have been saving up for years to buy a home, doesn’t mean you need to completely deplete your savings in one pass. If you lack an emergency fund, you’re not buying a home with a responsible financial cushion. While you’ll probably take out a good chunk of savings in order to purchase the home, you need a bit more. Experts say that you need about 3-6 months of expenses saved up in case of the event of illness, job loss, or other emergency. Hence the name “emergency fund.”

Key Questions for a First-Time Homebuyer

For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.

Now, let’s take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:

1. What is my “dream” residence?

One first-time homebuyer’s definition of a “dream” residence may differ from another’s. As such, you should consider what you’d like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.

Creating a checklist of “must-haves” and “wants” in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they’d like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.

Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.

Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.

Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.

2. How will I pay for a home?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you’ll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.

Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.

Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won’t force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.

3. How do I begin searching for a house?

Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.

An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.

Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.

Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.

Should You Buy A Starter Home?

Many people think of their first home as a “starter home.” This refers to a home that is fairly small and typically is for young people who are just starting out in a new phase of life. These types of homes are generally not thought of as “forever homes.” Many times, as families expand, they will move on from their starter homes to bigger and better homes. This includes living in desirable neighborhoods and adding extra comforts that the first home may not have had. Other times, people expand on their starter home in order to make more room for children and the needs of a growing family. These homes truly are jumping off points.

Studies show that the idea of starter homes is disappearing. It could be that the requirements of first-time homebuyers are changing and therefore the types of homes that are being sought after are few and far between. The expectations of buyers have increased greatly. Buyers would like adequate space and hope that their first home is not only in a great location, but ready for them to move in without much work as well. Really, buyers are looking for everything anyone would want in their forever home in their starter homes.

So, is it a smart idea to search for a starter home, only to move a few years later? The answer is multi-faceted. Starter homes are typically the homes that you can afford at the present time in your life. If you decide that you can save up longer and go for the house you really want, that may be a smarter financial decision for you. There’s always an option to wait for more homes to go on the market while you rent a place. If you do decide to go for a starter home, here’s some tips for you:

Don’t Try To Get Everything You Want For A Low Price

Buyers tend to have wish lists of the things they desire in a house. While that’s a great idea, don’t expect to get everything you want in your starter home. Manage your expectations along with the cost of the home.

See Where You Can Expand

Many homes have great potential, but buyers have what they see set in their minds and fail to see what can be done in the future. Look at homes with open eyes and picture the possibilities.

Know There Will Be Work Involved

Purchasing a starter home means that you’ll usually need to participate in home improvement projects. Don’t go for a home that needs major work done if you’re not up for the challenge. Typically, you’ll need to be able to get your hands dirty by doing things like changing out wallpaper, painting walls, or sanding cabinets. These are the little projects that make your house your own.