Shopping for a mortgage is the first step toward owning a home and perhaps the most daunting, especially if you are not prepared. Once a simple task that meant comparing fixed rates from among perhaps a dozen or fewer savings and loan companies, the mortgage hunt today is like finding your way through a maze. There are dozens of loan types and hundreds of loan programs available through mortgage brokers, bankers, lenders, finance companies and credit unions.
First and foremost, you must determine how your mortgage payment will fit your current budget and, to some extent, your future obligations 15 to 30 years down the road. If you discover too late that you can’t afford your mortgage, you’ll not only face the possibility of losing the roof over your head, but you could also damage your ability to purchase a home later.
Examine Your Finances
If you can afford to buy a home, you must then determine how much mortgage you can afford. Lenders are apt to put your loan application in the best light and qualify you for as much as they are willing to lend, which can be more than you can afford.
It’s up to you to take stock of your income and expenses, both current and projected to determine what you can comfortably manage each month. Along with your mortgage payment, don’t forget related insurance, taxes, home owner association dues and any other costs rolled into the mortgage payment.
Apply For a Loan
The application process is the easy part — provided you’ve gathered documents necessary to prove claims you make on the application.
The application will ask for information about your job tenure, employment stability, income, your assets (property, cars, bank accounts and investments) and your liabilities (auto loans, installment loans, mortgages, credit-card debt, household expenses and others).
The lender will run a credit check on you to take a look at your credit status, but you’ll have to supply additional documentation including paycheck stubs, bank account statements, tax returns, investment earnings reports, rental agreements, divorce decrees, proof of insurance, and other documentation. If the lender deems you creditworthy, it will likely hire a professional Glossary Item appraisal to make sure the value of the home you are about to buy is truly worth your loan amount.