With all of the lending institutions out there (banks, mortgage companies, mortgage brokers) how do you know who to choose? Your realtor should be the first person you ask because they will have experience with these various institutions and who can recommend someone they know can get you to the closing table. Choosing your mortgage based solely on a rate is never a good idea. Every lender has the same or similar program. However, they are not all equal when it comes to service.
When choosing a loan professional, ask the following questions:
- Does your loan professional know the many details of the loan process?
- Does the loan professional have access to a wide variety of loan packages?
- Will the loan professional be available to you during the process and will he/she attend the closing?
- Can the interest rates be locked in and for how long?
Once you find a loan professional you are ready to get pre-qualified.
Pre-qualification is the first step in getting a mortgage. Pre-qualification happens when a buyer discloses to a loan professional the amount of their income, the amount of their debt, and how much money they have to put down on a new home, to determine what their buying power is (how much money the loan officer thinks you can borrow for a home). This process also determines the type of financing you will receive (i.e.; conventional, FHA, or VA).
The approval process takes the buyer a step further. At this point the loan officer does a credit check to determine whether you are credit worthy (meaning is your credit score good enough for you to be financed). The loan professional validates your ability to purchase by collecting required documentation (i.e.; pay stub, bank statements, verification of employment, etc.).
Some buyers tend to wait for loan approval until after they have found a home. I discourage this. Your power as a buyer increases when you are able to make an offer with pre-qualification. By doing this, you let the seller know that you are capable and ready to buy their home. This is a huge benefit to the buyer and the seller.