How to Get a Mortgage
A Mortgage is a legal agreement between you and your lender, giving them the right to repossess or take over your home or property if you fail to meet the terms of your loan. Mortgages are installment loans, which means that each month you pay a portion of the debt along with interest. Many people rely on mortgages to help them buy homes because they typically cannot afford to pay the entire purchase price upfront.
Mortgage lenders will generally look at your credit score, income and employment history when assessing your eligibility for a loan. You may also be required to submit bank statements, investment accounts and tax returns to support your financial situation. If you are purchasing a home with someone else, it is possible to use joint mortgages to help you qualify. Mortgage rates will vary depending on the type of loan you choose, how much you are borrowing and your lender.
Once you find a lender with competitive rates and other terms, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved. Preapproval is a formal process that verifies your financial information and provides you with the amount you can comfortably borrow to buy a home. While preapproval does require a hard credit inquiry, it doesn’t negatively impact your credit score as much as applying for a mortgage would. It’s important to avoid applying for new credit during the mortgage application process because each inquiry will hurt your credit score and potentially delay your homebuying timeline.
After finding a home you like, you’ll need to complete the formal mortgage application, which will ask for additional documents. The lender will check your credit report again and order an appraisal of the property to ensure that it meets the value that you are borrowing against. Lenders will not lend you more than the market will bear, so this step is essential to avoid defaulting on your mortgage.
The underwriting process can be the most nerve-wracking part of getting a mortgage, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. The underwriter will review your financial history again and dig into your debt-to-income ratio, which is how much of your monthly income goes toward paying off other debt, such as car payments, student loans, credit cards and personal loans.
Your final approval will be based on your ability to pay back the loan in full with a certain number of years, which is called your mortgage term. Your monthly payments will include a portion of principal and interest, and over time you’ll gradually reduce the amount of your principal debt. In most cases, your mortgage will be fully amortized within 30 years. However, some borrowers may choose a shorter loan term for a faster repayment period. For example, if you’re buying an investment property with your mortgage, you might consider a 15-year term.