Cathy Lomasney's Blog
Check out this video about the importance of a Mortgage Preapproval Letter.
Purchasing a home is a sign of new financial responsibility for many people. The leap into homeownership is a big and important step. Finding a home and securing a mortgage isn’t easy. Getting ready to take on a mortgage can require a lot of research and education on your part. Before you get too confused, you’ll need to learn the basics of a mortgage and what you should know before you apply.
This is probably the best advice for any first time homebuyer. Find some good lenders in your area. You can sit down with a lender and talk about your goals. The bank will be able to explain all of the costs and fees associated with buying a home ahead of time. This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect when you head into a purchase contract without any surprises.
What’s Involved In A Loan?
Each mortgage is a different situation. This is why meeting with a lender ahead of time is a good idea. Your real estate agent can suggest a mortgage lender if you don’t have one in mind. No one will be happier for you than your real estate agent if you have a smooth real estate transaction. You’ll be able to walk through the mortgage process step by step with a loan officer and understand the specifics of your own scenario.
What You’ll Need For A Mortgage
There’s a few things that you’ll need to have ready before you can even begin searching for a home.
Cash For A Down Payment
You’ll need to save up a bit of cash before you know that you’re ready to buy a home. It’s recommended that you have at least 20 percent of the purchase price of a home to put down towards your loan initially.
A Good Working Knowledge Of Personal Finances
You should have an understanding of your own finances in order to buy a home. Not only will this help you save, but it will help you to ensure that you’re not going to overextend yourself financially after you secure the mortgage. To get your finances in order, honestly record all of your monthly expenses and spending habits, so you know exactly what you can afford.
The Price Range Of Homes You’re Interested In
If you have an idea of what kind of home you’d like, it will make your entire house shopping experience a lot easier. You’ll be able to see exactly what you can afford and how much you need to save. When your wish list equates to half-million dollar homes, and you find that you can only afford around $300,000, you don’t need to go into shock! It’s good to have an idea of how much house you can afford and what it will get you. When you do a little homework, you’ll discover that buying a home isn’t such a hard process when you’re prepared!
Carefully document your incomeWhen you sit down with a lender and hand them your proof if income, you want to make it as obvious as possible that you're earning money in a reliable and predictable way. Lenders will want to see multiple documents that can help paint a better picture of your income and finances, including:
- Bank statements
- Schedule C tax forms
- Profit and loss tax forms
- Completed tax returns
- Credit score (they will run a credit check)
Separate your business and personal financesIf you own your own business, you likely have business banking accounts you use for expenses and invoices. But freelancers and contract workers often simplify things by just using their personal checking and savings accounts for income. To make things clear for lenders, you should put your income and business expenses into a separate business account. Not only will this make it easier for lenders to quantify your income, but they can also use this information to see that your expenses are for helping your business rather than personal spending.
Timing is everythingThere are a number of factors that go into choosing the right time to apply for a mortgage. Being self-employed only complicates the matter since your income might not be as steady as your average wage worker. You'll want to commit to a mortgage at a time when you've had at least two consecutive years of good, reliable income. You'll need to prove this with the aforementioned documents (bank statements, tax forms, etc.). Part of this planning could be to avoid large business expenses in the two years leading up to your mortgage application. This isn't always possible, of course, but it could be enough to boost your apparent income to get you approved for a better loan.
Seek specialized lendersSome lenders are aware that there is a large portion of the country made up of self-employed workers and small business owners. They go out of their way to work with people who are self-employed so they can give them fair deals on their mortgages. To find specialized lenders, you'll have to do some research online, but it could make all the difference when it comes to getting approved for the loan you're looking for.
Filling out a mortgage application may prove to be a long, arduous process, particularly for those who are buying a house for the first time. Lucky for you, we're here to help you dot the I's and cross the T's on your mortgage application to ensure you can quickly and effortlessly acquire your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare your mortgage application.
1. Be Diligent
A mortgage application may appear daunting at first. The application may include several pages of questions, and you may have only a limited amount of time to finalize your submission.
When it comes to completing a mortgage application, it generally pays to be diligent. If you answer each mortgage application question to the best of your ability, you likely will have no trouble moving forward with your home purchase.
2. Avoid Guessing
If you're uncertain about how to respond to certain mortgage application questions, there is no need to guess. Instead, search for the information that you need to provide a comprehensive response. This will help reduce the risk of encountering potential problems down the line that otherwise could slow down your home acquisition.
Remember, guessing on a mortgage application probably won't do you or your lender any favors. But if you allocate the necessary time and resources to understand mortgage application questions and provide thoughtful responses, you can minimize the risk of application errors.
3. Ask Questions
Completing a mortgage application sometimes can be tricky. Fortunately, a lender employs mortgage specialists who are happy to respond to your application concerns or questions at any time.
If you're unsure about information that is requested on a mortgage application, don't hesitate to reach out to a lender's mortgage specialists for help. These specialists possess extensive mortgage expertise and can help you complete a mortgage application.
Furthermore, mortgage specialists can offer insights into a wide array of mortgage options. These specialists can explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and enable you to select the right mortgage option based on your financial situation.
As you prepare to buy a house, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can seamlessly navigate the homebuying process.
A real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to acquire a house, regardless of the finances at your disposal. This housing market professional can set up home showings, help you submit offers on houses and ensure you can purchase a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations. And if you need help getting a mortgage, a real estate agent may even be able to connect you with the top lenders in your city or town.
Ready to move forward in the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can finalize a mortgage application and secure the financing that you need to acquire your ideal residence.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers multiple housing assistance programs for people hoping to achieve home ownership.
In spite of being offered by the USDA, you don’t need to be a farmer or rancher of any kind to qualify for a home loan. Similarly, you don’t have to buy a home miles from civilization--many popular, thickly-settled suburbs across the country also qualify for USDA programs.
In this article, we’re going to explain the different programs offered by the USDA, how to check your eligibility, how to find out which locations qualify, and how to get started with a loan.
USDA Assistance Programs
The USDA offers two types of home loans for prospective buyers. The direct program, or Section 502 Direct Loan Program, is designed to help low-income persons to acquire safe, affordable housing. The assistance for this loan comes in the form of a subsidy that can be applied directly to the applicant’s mortgage, reducing monthly mortgage payments for a certain period of time.
Another type of home loan offered by the USDA is the Single Family Home Guarantee. Much like an FHA or first-time homeowner’s loan, this type of mortgage is insured by the government. As a result, buyers can often qualify for lower interest rates and smaller down payments from their lenders.
Guarantees may be applied towards the purchase, rebuilding, or building of a rural home as an incentive to developing rural areas. Later, we’ll talk about what is considered “rural.”
Outside of help with buying homes, the USDA also provides grants and loans for repairing and modernizing rural homes.
Who is eligible for USDA mortgage assistance?
In general, those applying for USDA assistance must meet certain criteria. Applicants must meet income eligibility, be a U.S. citizen or qualified noncitizen, and must purchase a qualifying property.
For the Direct loan program, applicants must be without safe or sanitary housing and be unable to secure housing through other means. Whereas for USDA guaranteed loans, applicants need only fall under the maximum income limit.
To find out if you’re eligible immediately, fill out an eligibility form from the USDA.
How do I know which houses qualify?
Generally speaking, homes located within large, metropolitan cities won’t qualify for USDA loans. However, suburbs just outside of some larger cities often do. For example, towns located just a half hour’s drive outside of Boston have a good chance of being eligible.
To view the map of property eligibility, simply fill out the online eligibility form.
How Do I Get Started?
If you’re seeking a direct loan, you’ll have to contact your local Rural Development office. Applications for a direct loan are accepted year-round and are awarded based on funding availability.
For people looking for a private loan guaranteed by the USDA, applicants should contact an approved lender in the area. The lender will then work with the USDA loan specialist in your state.