Buying your first home can be stressful enough without worrying about whether or not your mortgage loan pre-approval is going to go through. You may not be prepared for the mountains of paperwork that you'll need to submit before a lender gives you the thumbs' up. That's why it's such a good idea to know the requirements before you narrow down your home search.
Here are the top items your mortgage broker or lender will need in order to pre-approve you for a loan.
1. Proof of Income
W2 employees will need paystubs, IRS 1040 forms, and copies of their W2 form for the last two years.
For self-employed individuals, and small business owners, the burden of proof is higher. In additon to 1099 MISC forms, you may need to submit a letter from your accountant stating that your business is still active and a profit and loss sheet.
2. Asset Information
In addition to the regular taxable income you are bringing in, the lender will want to see proof of other assets, including savings, investment accounts, and written documentation of a family member's intent to gift you money.
These assets will let the lender know if you can afford a down payment, pay for the closing costs on the loan, and have enough cash reserves to afford the transition into homeownership.
3. Employment Verification
Lenders want to know not just that you are employed but also that you are stably employed. Thus, they request a letter from your employer to verify your employment status and the salary you're earning.
Self-employed individuals will need to submit at least two years of their complete 1040 forms in lieu of this verification process.
4. Credit Information
Before they will pre-approve a loan, the lender makes a hard inquiry into your credit. You will need a credit score of at least 620 to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan or a Federal Housing Administration Loan with zero percent down. The government may approve borrowers for an FHA loan with a score between 580 and 620 if they are able to make a sizable down payment.
In order to qualify for the lowest interest rates available — typically the ones you see advertised — you must have a credit score of at least 760. In some cases, it is worthwhile to defer applying for pre-approval until you can raise your credit score. Why? A lower interest rate can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.
5. Personal Information
Finally, the lender will want to verify your identity by requesting copies of your driver's license, social security number, and signature.
When you make the decision to buy your first home, you should be certain that you’re ready to make the leap into homeownership. There’s many different things that you should do as a buyer to get ready before you even set out on the search of a perfect home.
Choose An Agent
You may think that one real estate agent is the same as any real estate agent that you’ll find. This is far from the truth. Some agents have certain specialties. The knowledge that an agent will bring to your house hunt is often invaluable. You are making one of the biggest purchases that you’ll ever make in your lifetime. While many buyers think that they can simply do an online search themselves to find a home, your realtor will have many more resources to assist you in finding exactly what you’re looking for.
Figure Out The Financial Portion Of Buying A Home
While knowing how many bedrooms you need and where you hope to live is important, understanding your finances is even more important. You’ll need to talk to a lender to get the process started. After looking at your own personal budget, you should get pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified allows you to see a general number of how much house you can afford. That can help you start the process, however, there’s still a few more steps.
From here, you can do what needs to be done to get your entire financial picture ready to buy a home. This includes saving for a downpayment, improving your credit score, and continuing to keep up bill payments and consistent work history.
Next, you’ll want to get pre-approved. This allows your lender to dig into your financial picture. Everything from your credit score to your income and employment history will be considered. Your lender will then give you a more definitive number of how much you’ll actually be able to get for a loan when you buy a home. To get pre-approved, be prepared with 1099 forms, pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. You’ll then have the concrete amount that you’re approved for along with the interest rate that you qualify for.
Once You Have Applied For A Home Loan
Once you find the realtor to assist you and secure the home of your dreams, you’re not free to head out and buy all the furniture that you need to fill up your house. The home loan must go through the underwriting process and until that is complete, your finances are essentially on lockdown. If you start opening new credit cards, decide to buy a car, or fall behind on payments, you could end up in a lot of trouble. You want to keep your credit score stable throughout the process of buying a home for smooth sailing.