You’ve decided to purchase a home. You’ve seen others do it, but you don’t know the first steps toward making it happen. Before you dive in head-first, keep in mind that there are certain steps you should take with your finances before you start submitting paperwork.
Here are some tips and tricks to better your mortgage qualification process.
What is the smartest thing you can do before you even start looking at lenders, real estate agents or, especially, potential homes? It’s setting a budget. Especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer, the mortgage process may be a relatively foreign concept to you. That’s why knowing what you can realistically afford is an excellent starting point.
Take stock of the bills you currently pay, omit the ones you won’t have anymore as an owner versus a renter and add in the anticipated new ones. These might include electric, gas, water/sewer, garbage, etc. Adjust your monthly payment to reflect your actual monthly budget so you know what you’re shooting for, price-wise.
Get Multiple Preapprovals
How does the old saying go? “You better shop around?” Here’s another case where it’s completely applicable. If you want to ensure you’re getting the best possible scenario for your home-lending experience, get preapprovals from multiple lenders. The market rates and your loan type of choice may dictate prices, but it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. You may encounter a slightly better offer depending on the financial institution.
Check Your Credit
It can be tough to weed out the accurate information versus the false offers when it comes to obtaining your credit report—bad credit report commercials are a dime a dozen. Just know this singular fact—you are entitled to an annual free credit report from each of the major providers.
Knowing your credit score can give you a better picture of what sort of financing you can expect from a lender. Your creditworthiness is arguably the most important factor in determining your loan amount. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com for your official report.
Maintain Your Credit
The trick with a credit score, though, is that it changes. It will increase or decrease based on your financial picture. So when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage (and later closing on a property), it’s incredibly important that your credit score remain consistent during the entire process—from the preapproval to the final closing signature.
This means that you should avoid major purchases that are out of the ordinary—from taking out a new auto loan on a vehicle to buying moderately or highly priced furniture or appliances. Avoid the temptation—a large swing in your score could affect your qualification or even final closing.
Ask About Your Options
Not all mortgages are exactly alike. In fact, most lenders will have a lineup of options for you. You may qualify for a certain type of mortgage based on your household salary, your place of residence or even your military status. To get the best loan for your situation, ask the banks or credit unions managing your preapproval process what your loan type options are.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer in South Dakota that meets certain income criteria, for example, you may be eligible for the First-Time Homebuyer Program. It offers lending and downpayment assistance.