Ready to buy a home? Meeting with the lender and getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a critical first step. You might have also heard the term “pre-qualify” and wonder what the difference is between these terms.
A pre-qualification is merely an informal estimate of your income, assets and present debt to estimate the approximate price range you should be looking in for your new home. But a pre-approval means the lender is prepared to offer you a loan of up to a certain amount based on your credit, employment, and income and has determined what loan program is the best fit for you.
Here are some of the items that I recommend buyers gather in order to get pre-approved:
Basic Items Needed
- Federal tax return for last 2 years
- Two most recent pay stubs
- W-2’s for the last 2 years
- Last two months of all bank statements
- Any long-term debt information (credit cards, auto loans, other mortgages, etc.)
- Statements on other investment portfolios (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401K, IRA’s and other retirement accounts)
Other Potential Documents Needed
- If using income from rental property, provide current rental agreements
- If self-employed, 2 years of business tax returns and profit and loss statements
- If you are receiving gift funds from a family member for the home purchase, you will need a gift letter from that family member and verification of the funds being deposited into your account
A significant factor used in determining the amount of money you can borrow and the interest rate you will receive is based upon your credit score. Here are some tips to improve your score before you apply for a loan and how to maintain your good score during the buying process.
- Avoid applying for any new credit cards or increased limits on current cards.
- Pay off and/or close out any unused credit cards.
- Make sure all bills are paid on time.
- Ensure you are no longer on any accounts with former spouse/partners.
- Keep a low balance on all active credit accounts.
- Do not make any major purchases or apply for any loans unrelated to the home mortgage (i.e. car loan).
- Talk to a mortgage broker before opening an account at a debt consolidation service.
Meeting with a lender can feel overwhelming, but it is a critical step if you are buying and getting a mortgage. I have a number of great local lenders I am happy to refer you to in order to get the ball rolling!