Obtaining a home loan is one of the most critical parts of buying a home for most Americans. It can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never been through the process before. There are a lot of documents to sign and collect and you might feel like you’re forgetting something. Before you start to worry, take a breath and let this list remind you of the most important things to do and the things NOT to do when you’re getting a mortgage.
- DO Get Pre-approved for a Home Loan - Before you even go out shopping for a house, contact a lender for a pre-approval letter. It just requires providing a few numbers and documents to the lender and then you’ll have a preliminary promise of mortgage funding that will make you a much more attractive buyer.
- DO Keep your Financial Record in Good Order - Know where to find your W2s or paycheck stubs, bank statements, and tax records for easy sharing with your lender during the underwriting process. Being able to turn all these in within 24 hours of being asked will help the process move faster and smoother.
- DO Stay Current on All Your Debt Payments - Your ability to faithfully repay your debts is what is being carefully evaluated by your mortgage lender. If you miss any credit card or auto loan payments while you are buying a house, it could cause your credit score to drop, and you might be disqualified. Be extra vigilant about getting payments in on time during the mortgage process.
- DO Ask Plenty of Questions and Learn About Mortgages - You definitely want to be well informed about what a mortgage is and what financial responsibilities it will mean for you. Be free and open with your lender about any questions you have along the way.
- DON’T Change Jobs - Changing jobs in the middle of the mortgage process can definitely throw a wrench in the approval. Lenders like to see stability at one place of employment to make sure you have a steady income. If you can wait at all, do not quit your job until your home loan closes.
- DON’T Make Any Major Purchases - If you go out and buy a new car or tons of furniture and appliances to fill your new house, your total assets will shrink, possibly making you look riskier as a borrower. You want your financial picture to look as rosy as possible during the underwriting, so put off any big purchases until you are approved.
- DON’T Close Any Credit Accounts - Even if you have finished paying off a particular credit card or you are about to pay off your car loan, do not close the accounts until the loan closes. Closing them will decrease your available credit, and even though it means you have less debt, it will look like you are using more of your available credit line and that can bring down your credit score. Basically, try not to change anything about your money situation during the whole mortgage process.
While there are important things to do and not do while you get approved for a home loan, your lender is always ready to talk you through the process and answer any questions you have.