What credit score do I need to get a mortgage?

Typically, a credit score of 620 or higher is needed to get approved, but this varies from lender to lender. Many lenders offer lower loan rates for scores above 740 because they consider them excellent borrowers, however, you’ll usually get the best interest rates on new mortgage loans if your credit score is above 740.

What is a pre-qualification?

Pre-qualification is the process of determining how much a lender will loan you for a home purchase. It depends on your credit score, income, assets and liabilities which are all taken into consideration.

Think of it as a “rough draft” of your mortgage approval.

What is a pre-approval?

Pre-approval, on the other hand, is when you know how much you can spend before even looking at homes so that buyers don’t waste time looking for homes out of price range.

It’s everything from a pre-qualification – verified by a lender.

What documents do I need for my mortgage application?

You should at least have your W-2 for the last year and current pay stubs, tax returns from two years ago, bank statements.

If you are self-employed, you will need to provide additional documents such as your business’s financial statements, tax returns for the last two years, and a profit and loss statement.

How much of a down payment do I need?

For conventional loans it’s 20%

For FHA loans, the minimum down payment is 3.5%.

For VA loans and USDA loans, its 0%.

What are closing costs, and how much should I expect them to be?

Closing costs are all the fees associated with buying a home. They cover all sorts of things like title insurance, appraisal charges, points (discounted interest rates), and other miscellaneous charges.

Closing costs typically run between 2-4% of the purchase price.

Should I choose a fixed-rate or an adjustable-rate mortgage?

This depends on your goals.

If your plan is to buy a house and keep it for the long-term, you would probably do better with a fixed-rate. This allows you to budget and see what your payment will be months in advance.

However, if you plan to move relatively early after getting the loan, adjustable rate mortgages might make more sense because they can be much lower than fixed-rate mortgages.

Should I “lock” my interest rate?

This depends on when you plan to buy your house.

If you plan to buy the house within a month or two, locking in an interest rate can save you some money if rates go up after you get the loan. However, if they go down, it costs more because they are releasing their right to charge you a higher interest rate in the future.

What are discount points, and should I pay them?

Discount points are a form of upfront interest that lenders charge for loans. One point equals 1% of the loan amount, and you can think about it as prepaying your interest rate.

If you plan on staying in the house for more than 10 years, getting discount points makes sense because they will save you money over time since they lower your interest rate.

Should I get a 15-year or 30-year term loan?

30-year loans are traditional, but a 15 year loan can save you a lot of money in the long run because it lowers your interest rate and you pay much less in interest overall.

The truth is, many people don’t stay in their house for 30 years, however the low payment gives you more flexibility if you ever run into any financial issues.

What is an escrow account?

An escrow account is an account the lender sets up to make sure all your taxes and insurance are paid on time.

If you don’t fund this account, the lender may put a tax lien on your property which would make it harder to sell.

You should expect to pay 1-2 months of insurance premiums into this account monthly.

How long does it take to close?

On average, it could take 30 to 45 days for a lender to process all the documents and get final approval.

There are times though where it can happen in just a few weeks.

How is my mortgage payment determined?

Your mortgage payment is determined by the following:

  • Principal and Interest payment – as you make payments, a portion goes to paying off your loan’s principal balance while another part towards interest due for that month.
  • Escrow Accounts (taxes and insurance) – if you setup an escrow account, your mortgage payment will include this.

Have more questions?

If you have more questions about buying or refinancing a home, the best thing to do is to get in touch with us so we can get them answered.