Carol Rock's Blog
Getting a mortgage is one of those things that everyone seems to have quite a bit of advice about. While people surely have good intentions, it’s not always best to take the buying advice of everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find the wrong kind of mortgage advice and why you should think twice about it.
Pre-Approvals Are Pointless
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can give you an upper hand when it comes to putting in offers on a home. Even though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good step. It shows that you’re a serious buyer and locks you in with a lender so they can process your paperwork a bit more quickly when you do want to put an offer in on a home.
Use Your Own Bank
While your own bank may be a good place to start when it comes to buying a home, you don’t need to get your mortgage from the place where you already have an account. You need to compare rates at different banks to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on a mortgage. You’ll also want to check on the mortgage requirements for each bank. Different banks have different standards based on down payment, credit scores and more. You’ll want to get your mortgage from the bank that’s right for you and your own situation.
The Lowest Interest Rate Is Best
While this could be true, it’s not set in stone. A bank with a slightly higher interest rate could offer you some benefits that you otherwise might not have. If you have a lower credit score, or less downpayment money, a bank offering a higher interest rate could be a better option for you. Low interest rates can have some fine print that might end up costing you a lot more in the long term. Do your research before you sign on with any kind of bank for your mortgage.
Borrow The Maximum
Just because you’re approved for a certain amount of mortgage doesn’t mean that you need to max out your budget. It’s always best to have a bit of a financial cushion for yourself to keep your budget from being extremely tight. When life throws you a curveball like unexpected medical bills or a job loss, you’ll be glad that you didn’t strain your budget to the end of your means. Even though the bigger, nicer house always looks more attractive, you’re better off financially if you’re sensible about the amount of money you borrow to buy a home.
The dream of paying off your mortgage fast may seem like an overwhelming task. After all, it is money that is involved. And it is not just an amount you can sneeze at; it is thousands of dollars. In this modern era of financial distractions, being able to pay such amount of money within a snap of your fingers is not common.
However, if you wish you to pay off your mortgage fast, you can do so by switching to a biweekly payment plan.
What is a bi-weekly Payment?
When you are dealing with your debt, and you are trying to pay it off, a monthly structure is available. This monthly structure includes interest which you deal with and, it pays off every month.
The point of you getting out of debt on time is to live your life and pursue your dream so you need to use the tools and the knowledge available to you that you can implement right away - bi-weekly payment is one.
A biweekly mortgage is like your traditional mortgage. What makes it different is that you will need to structure your payments. In other words, you won’t be making one payment at the start of a new month; you will be making half of your payments every two weeks.
Bi-weekly Payment Are Not Twice a Month Payment
The main difference between a fortnightly payment and twice a month payment is that you have to pay an extra month payment at the end of a year. So, there are 12 months in one year. At the end of the 12th month, you would have paid 13 months of payment without spending more than you are already paying every month.
With a bi-weekly payment, you only have to split your mortgage in half. You take care of the first half after the first 14days and the second half at the latter 14 days, so nothing is changing in your monthly payments. The only difference with bi-weekly payments is that you have to make sure your money is going towards the principal and not the interest charge balance.
How Does Bi-weekly Payment work?
- 52 weeks a year/ 2 bi-weekly payment in a month = 26 payments a year
- Divide 26 payment by 2 to get the picture of what a “full month’s payment” would be. 1 full month payment = 1 month
- 26 payment per year/ 2=13 full payments (13 months) instead of 12 monthly payment in a year.
You will make an additional loan payment per year without any extra effort. Bi-weekly payment can help you pay off your mortgage fast, but you will need to consult a mortgage advisor to know if it will suit you.
Many first-time home buyers are worried about all of the documents and information they’ll have to gather when applying for a mortgage. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably dreading having to dig through the five places that these documents might be. Fortunately, the process is now somewhat streamlined thanks to lenders being able to collect most of your information digitally.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about the documents you’ll need to collect when you apply for a home loan so that you feel prepared and confident reaching out to lenders.
Documents needed to pre-qualify
Before going into applying for a mortgage, let’s talk about pre-qualification. There are three types, or in some cases steps, of approval with most mortgage lenders: pre-qualification, pre-approval, and approval.
Pre-qualification is one of the earliest and simplest steps to getting pre-approved. It gives you a snapshot of the types and amount of loans you can receive. Pre-qualification typically doesn’t include a detailed credit analysis, nor do you need to provide many specific details or documents.
Typically, you’ll fill out a questionnaire describing your debts, income, and assets, and they will give you an estimate of the loan you might qualify for. Might is the key word here. Your pre-qualification amount is not guaranteed as you haven’t yet provided official proof of your information.
Documents needed for pre-approval
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage entails significantly more work on the part of you and your lender than pre-qualification. First, the lender will run a credit analysis. You won’t need to provide them with any information for this step, as they’ll be able to automatically receive the report from the major credit reporting bureaus. However, it’s a good idea to check your report before applying to make sure there aren’t any errors that could damage your credit.
Now is where the legwork comes in.
You’ll need to gather the following documents to get officially pre-approved or approved for a mortgage:
W-2 forms from the previous two years. If you are self-employed, you’ll still need to provide income verification, usually as a Form 1040, or “Individual income tax return.”
Two forms of identification. A driver’s license, passport, and social security card are three commonly accepted forms of identification.
Pay stubs or detailed income information for the past two or three months. This ensures lenders that you are currently financially stable.
Federal and State income tax returns from the past two years. If you file your taxes online, you can often download a PDF version that includes your W-2 or 1040 forms, making the process of submitting tax and income verification much easier.
Personal contact information. Name, address, phone number, email address, and any former addresses which you’ve lived in the past two years.
Bank statements from the previous two months. Also, if you have any assets, such as a 401K, stocks, or mutual fund, you’ll be asked to include those as well.
A complete list of your debts. Though these will likely be on your credit report, lenders want to ensure they have the full picture when it comes to how much you owe other creditors and lenders.
If you’re hoping to buy a house in the near future, you’ll want to focus on saving for a down payment.
Down payments are a way to let a lender know that you are a low-risk investment, and a way to save money on interest over the term of your loan.
If you have your other finances in order--a good credit score and stable income--there’s a good chance that making a 20% or more down payment will land you a low interest rate that can save you thousands while you pay off your loan.
How large should my down payment be?
The larger the down payment you can afford, the more money you’ll likely save in the long run. While there are ways to get a loan with no or very small down payments, these aren’t always ideal.
First, if you put less than 20% down on your home loan, you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. These are monthly payments that you make in addition to the interest that is accrued on your loan.
So, if you don’t put any money down on your home, you’ll accrue more interest over your term length and you’ll pay PMI on top of that.
What affects your minimum down payment amount?
Lenders take a number of factors into consideration when determining your risk. If you’re eligible for a first-time home owners loan, a veteran’s loan, or a USDA loan, your loan can be guaranteed by the government. This means you can likely pay a lower down payment while still receiving a reasonable interest rate.
When applying for a mortgage, be sure to reach out to multiple lenders and shop around for the rates that work for you. Many lenders use slightly different criteria to determine your eligibility to pay a lower down payment.
Other things that affect your minimum down payment include:
Location of the home you want to buy
Value of the mortgage
Saving for a down payment
You’ll get the most value out of your mortgage if you put more money down. However, if you’re currently living in a high-rent area, it could mean that it’s in your best interest to get out of your apartment and start building equity in the form of homeownership.
If you want to buy a home within the next year or two, there are a few ways you can help increase your savings.
First, determine how much you need to save. Depending on your housing needs and the current market, everyone will have different requirements. Do some home shopping in your area online and look for homes that are within your spending limits. Remember that you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing (mortgage, property taxes, etc.)
Next, find out what a 20% down payment on that home would be, adjusting for inflation.
Once you have the amount you need to save, remember to leave yourself enough of an emergency fund in your savings account to last you a month or two.
There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.
Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.
What is a VA Loan?
VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.
Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed
VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.
Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.
Who is eligible?
There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.
If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:
You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime
You’ve served 181 days during peacetime
You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard
Your spouse died due to their work in the military
There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.
Applying for a VA Loan
There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.
Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender. If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.
Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.