Should you talk to a mortgage professional before house hunting?
Absolutely! Even if you haven’t so much as picked out houses to visit yet, it’s important to see your mortgage professional first. Why? What can we do for you if you haven’t negotiated a price, and don’t know how much you want to borrow?
When we pre-qualify you, we help you determine how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can afford, and how much we can loan you. We do this by considering your income and debts, your employment and residence situations, your available funds for down payment and required reserves, and some other things. It’s short and to the point, and we keep the paperwork to a minimum!
Once you qualify, we give you what’s called a Pre-Qualification Letter (your real estate agent might call it a “pre-qual”), which says that we are working with you to find the best loan to meet your needs and that we’re confident you’ll qualify for a loan for a certain amount.
When you find a house that catches your eye, and you decide to make an offer, being pre-qualified for a mortgage will do a couple of things. First, it lets you know how much you can offer. Your real estate agent will help you decide on an appropriate offer, but being pre-qualified gives you the confidence to know you can follow through.
More importantly, to a home seller, your being pre-qualified is like you walked into their house with a suitcase full of cash to make the deal! They won’t have to wonder if they’re wasting their time because you’ll never qualify for a mortgage to finance the amount you’re offering for the home. You have the clout of a buyer ready to make the deal right now!
Before you begin to shop for a new home, you should set up a time to meet with us so we can figure out how much you can afford. This will put you in a better position as a buyer. That’s when it is important to understand the distinction between being pre-qualified for a loan and pre-approved for a loan. The difference between the two terms will be crucial when you decide to make an offer on a house.
To get pre-qualified for a loan, we will collect information about your debt, income, and assets. We’ll look at your credit profile and assess goals for a down payment and get an idea of different loan programs that would work for you. We will issue you a pre-qualification letter indicating the amount you are pre-qualified to borrow.
It is important to understand that a pre-qualification letter is just an estimate of what you are eligible to borrow, not a commitment to lend. Getting pre-approved for a loan gives you competitive advantage when the time comes to bid on a home because you have been approved for a loan for a specified amount.
To get pre-approved, you will complete a mortgage application and provide me with various information verifying your employment, assets and financial status such as W-2 forms, bank records and credit card statements. We’ll review your mortgage options and submit your application to the lender that best meets your needs. Once the application process is complete you will receive a pre-approval letter indicating the amount your lender is willing to lend you for your home.
A pre-approval letter is not binding on the lender; it is subject to an appraisal of the home you wish to purchase and certain other conditions. If your financial situation changes (e.g. you lose your job), interest rates rise or a specified expiration date passes, your lender must review your situation and recalculate your mortgage amount accordingly.
Before deciding on what terms lenders will offer you on a loan (which they base on the “risk” to them), they want to know two things about you: your ability to pay back the loan, and your willingness to pay back the loan. For the first, they look at your income-to-debt obligation ratio. For your willingness to pay back the loan, they consult your credit score.
The most widely used credit scores are FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac & Company, Inc. (and they’re named after their inventor!). Your FICO score is between 350 (high risk) and 850 (low risk).
Credit scores only consider the information contained in your credit profile. They do not consider your income, savings, down payment amount, or demographic factors like gender, race, nationality or marital status. In fact, the fact they don’t consider demographic factors is why they were invented in the first place. “Profiling” was as dirty a word when FICO scores were invented as it is now. Credit scoring was developed as a way to consider only what was relevant to somebody’s willingness to repay a loan.
Past delinquencies, derogatory payment behavior, current debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and number of inquiries are all considered in credit scores. Your score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or reestablishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your score.
Different portions of your credit history are given different weights. Thirty-five percent of your FICO score is based on your specific payment history. Thirty percent is your current level of indebtedness. Fifteen percent each is the time your open credit has been in use (ten year old accounts are good, six month old ones aren’t as good) and types of credit available to you (installment loans such as student loans, car loans, etc. versus revolving and debit accounts like credit cards). Finally, five percent is pursuit of new credit — credit scores requested.
Your credit report must contain at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This ensures that there is enough information in your report to generate an accurate score. If you do not meet the minimum criteria for getting a score, you may need to establish a credit history prior to applying for a mortgage.
Closing costs depend on a variety of circumstances. Any increased costs are a result of market activity. As demand increases it puts stress on all parties to a transaction, which causes costs to rise.
The appraisal in particular is a good example. In the past appraisals cost a standard $425. Now, the cost for an appraisal will vary depending on location, due date and loan type.
In addition, a portion of costs are percentage based and as home pricing increase costs increase as a result. At Colorado mortgage (a dba of Sierra Pacific Mortgage) we do not charge a processing fee. Most lenders will charge a $250-$550 processing fee, however we made the decision to waive this fee with the past year to streamline the process/costs for our clients.
Closings costs are the most overlooked portion of the home loan. It’s important to shop different lenders and not focus solely on rates.
Closing takes place at a title company near the property. Or if it is a refinance, often a closer can come to your house.
More questions not covered here? Contact us and we’re happy to answer them! Call us at: 303-800-4595!
Michael and Melissa are always a pleasure to work with. They are extremely responsive, professional and work hard to get the best loan for us. I would recommend Colorado Mortgage to anyone. Thank you for another great experience!
Sierra Pacific Mortgage NMLS# 1788. Michael Shotnik NMLS: 218281, CO License: 100017466. Regulated in
Colorado by the Division of Real Estate #988320. To check license status of mortgage loan originator, visit D.O.R.A.
and NMLS consumer access.