Conventional 97 Loan Guide — Home.Loans

Home Loan Guide — Home.Loans

Other Types of Mortgages

Bond Money Loans. Bond Money is actually more of a grant program, but it’s available in most states in one form or another. Bond Money is a program that allows first time home buyers to bring no or low down payments to closing with grant money generated through state bonds. Generally, these grants are limited in nature and not every lender will offer them, but they can be used with most loan programs.

Subprime. Sometimes, no matter what a person does, they just can’t quite hit the mark. That’s what a subprime loan is for — when you’re down and out and still need to buy a home. They’re loans of last resort, often coming with high interest rates and unusual terms, like balloon payments or adjustable rates that usually only go up. They serve a purpose, but they should only be used for temporary situations. It’s wise to have an exit plan if you’re opting for a subprime loan.

Shelf loans. Credit unions and small local banks near you may still offer mortgages they keep in-house, known as “shelf loans,” though they’re getting harder to find every day. These offer attractive terms because they’re being made by your friends and neighbors, but are often for shorter periods than the bigger banks. Still, if you’re interested in a 15 or 20 year mortgage, asking the Bank of Anytown, USA if they have an in-house mortgage product might not hurt.

Important Factors for Home Loan Approval

Before you can get a loan, you have to qualify. This probably makes some amount of sense if you’ve ever applied for a credit card or a car loan. It’s a lot more complicated with a mortgage — they all have the same basic metrics, some are just a little bit tougher than others. It’s always a good idea to get your ducks in a row about six months before you plan to purchase, though goodness knows that lenders have been known to perform miracles with less time.

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The less stress you add to the homebuying process by procrastinating will be appreciated by everyone, from your real estate agent to your lender and even the closing agents. They might even bring donuts. But no promises. Here’s a handy list to get you started on that carb coma!

Mortgage Qualification Checklist

  • Forms of ID. You’ll need at least two, preferably a photo ID and Social Security card plus something that shows your current address. All of this is just to verify your identity and your residence, and to ensure that when a credit is pulled, it’s the right one.

  • Credit Report. Some websites say you need to bring your own credit report in with you, but this is incorrect. Your lender will ask for your permission to pull a credit on your behalf using their software, which then pushes that information through their credit grading algorithms. Officially, it’s pulling three credit reports, one from each of the major bureaus, but it’s all done with one action. This is called a “tri-merge” in the industry because it’s taking the three reports and inputting them together to get a better picture of how you use credit..

  • Tax Returns. You don’t necessarily need to bring these to your initial meeting, but it won’t hurt. The last two years’ tax returns, along with W2s or 1099s will help your lender get the most accurate picture of your financial situation. If you’re primarily self-employed, a profit and loss statement can be helpful.

  • Pay Stubs. Again, not necessary for the first meeting, but helpful. Pay stubs help establish your current pay rate, which may be different from the rate your taxes show. This happens when you get a different job or have a pay increase. Lenders want to check income from both directions. Pay stubs also give them the information they need to verify your employment later. If you get Social Security or Disability, bring that information.

  • Bank Statements. Lenders are really all about the money. Anywhere you have any stashed, they’re going to want to see a statement about it. Go ahead and print those statements off your bank’s website and bring them in, at least a couple of months’ worth — three is even better. If you decide to get a loan from the bank where you have your checking and savings accounts, they can often pull this information out of their system, saving you the hassle.

  • Investment Statements. Putting a fine point on the “any money, anywhere” statement above, bring in your investment statements. That includes your retirement accounts, like your 401(k) or IRA. These investment accounts can be used in place of reserves, if your lender determines you’re required to put them up, or, as in the case of a vested 401(k), used as a down payment.

  • Divorce Decree. If you’ve been divorced, even if your divorce was uncontested, you’ll need to bring a copy of the decree. This is just for the bank to verify that the financial responsibilities you claim you have from that marriage are correct (including child support and alimony payments), because they have to document everything.

  • Certificate of Eligibility. If you’re applying for a VA loan, you have to be a veteran. Your certificate of eligibility will tell the bank that you did, in fact, serve your country, and it’ll show what the amount of your benefit through the VA loan program will be.

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Understanding the Mortgage Process

When your lender has looked over all of this information, they’ll tell you what they think about things. You should not, under any circumstances, go house shopping before you’ve spoken to a lender about what you can afford. It might seem like it makes good sense to pick a house first, but if you do, you’re setting yourself up for a difficult transaction at best and a serious disappointment in the worst case.

What Do Potential Mortgage Lenders Use to Make an approval Decision?

Based on the following factors, your lender will determine how much buying power you’ll have. Remember, you are now at their mercy (though you certainly can shop around):

Credit score. Pretty much every loan eligibility matrix starts with a credit score. So, if your credit score is outside the range allowed by the program, no amount of compensating factors can get you into it. If your credit’s just barely in range, you may be able to buy, but with a much smaller loan than you might expect with your income.

Down payment. A downpayment can make a big difference to how much you can borrow, since your lender likes to see that you have some skin in the game. Most of the popular loan programs will allow you to bring a downpayment as small as three to five percent of the loan total, but if you can produce 10 or even 20 percent, lenders may overlook some blemishes in other areas.

Additional cash reserves. In some cases, you may be asked to provide reserve funds, to be verified prior to closing. These funds sort of act like a security blanket for the bank, so they worry less about you defaulting on your obligation. It’s common to ask for reserves for certain programs, if you’re considering buying another house before your current home is sold, or if you’re buying a second home. It’s not very often that first time home buyers are asked for reserves, but it does happen.

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