Why pre-qualify for a loan?
Pre-qualifying for a loan makes you an appealing buyer in the eyes of the seller. Pre-qualification approves you for up to a certain mortgage amount, even before you look at your first home. Once you do start looking, you won't waste time looking at homes you won't be qualified for-and you'll be in a strong position to make an offer as soon as you find something you like.
Selecting the best financing package available is as important as finding a home that meets your needs.
- Down payment
Most loans require a down payment between 10 and 20 percent of the home price. If you are able to make a down payment of 25 percent or more, you may qualify for special mortgage programs offered by a variety of lenders.
- Ability to qualify for a mortgage
Most lenders require that your monthly mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance, should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income. They also expect your total installment debt (regular scheduled payments of 6 months or longer debt-car loans, credit card balances, etc.), including the proposed monthly mortgage payment on your new loan, not to exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income.
In addition to your gross monthly income, lenders review your employment history, stability, and potential for increasing your income. They also evaluate any additional income, such as bonuses, commissions and child support.
They will request a credit report to verify your debt repayment, outstanding debt, and available credit. They will calculate your assets, including checking and savings account balances, CDs, stocks and bonds.
Avoiding any late payments on credit accounts, and limiting your credit purchases, helps keep your credit report in good standing. If you have items on your credit report that could negatively influence your ability to secure a mortgage, be prepared to explain each situation in writing. You should also consider delaying major purchases until after you've moved into your new home.
- Closing costs
Closing costs typically range between 2 and 5 percent of your loan amount. These fees are due in cash at the time of closing, or, in some cases, can be included in the loan.
Taking the time to pre-qualify for a mortgage before you begin your home search will put you in a much better negotiating position: your pre-qualification assures the seller that the transaction will not be delayed while you secure financing.